Apologies for breaking the glass slipper

only it was really too inconvenient, you see,
not least when it shattered on the staircase
I was running up to catch the last train
in that station without an escalator, salarymen
swaying in front of me to a silent tune
and nothing else but the surly stare
of the konbini shopkeep, craning
his head out in disbelief, shouting,
“You dropped something, excuse me
but it seems to have broken—” and sure
it’s dangerous but there’s no time,
I’m sorry if the people darting by
get their feet cut, but I’ve learned humans
are great at sidestepping. I think
the next ball should be a sneakers affair,
or the kind where people can wear flats
anyway, with the ripped tights they bought
from Shibuya 109 before heading down
to Harajuku for a crepe—I’d prefer it
to the long itchy dresses, the long noses itching
with disdain. On the train I take the other
slipper off and cram it into my bag, trying
to pretend this is some new style, fit for a runaway
racing for her curfew, though I don’t doubt
some passengers thought I looked a little wild.
Wilder still—the rushing sound keeping time
with my heart, how little agony I feel
speeding away from you, how I don’t wonder
when I’ll see you again. I think this spell
might be broken.

(Editors’ Note: “Apologies for breaking the glass slipper” is read by Amal El–Mohtar in The Uncanny Magazine Podcast, Episode 4B.)


Isabel Yap

Isabel Yap writes fiction and poetry, works in the tech industry, and drinks tea. Born and raised in Manila, she has also lived in California and London, and studied abroad in Tokyo. In 2013 she attended the Clarion Writers Workshop. She is currently completing her MBA at Harvard Business School. Her work has appeared in venues including, Nightmare Magazine, Strange Horizons, and Year’s Best Weird Fiction, and her short story series about magical girls was released by Booksmugglers Publishing in 2016. She is @visyap on Twitter and her website is

2 Responses to “Apologies for breaking the glass slipper”

  1. 2015 Year in Review, Quiz Edition | isalikeswords

    […] Apologies for Breaking the Glass Slipper in Uncanny Magazine (Issue 4/May-June) I’m sorry if the people darting by get their feet cut, but I’ve learned humans are great at sidestepping. […]

  2. Poetry-Genre Pairings: Where to Start If You Love...

    […] If your fantasy tastes run more towards modern fairy tale re-imaginings, check out Isabel Yap’s Apologies for breaking the glass slipper. Yap’s Cinderella ends up stuck on a commuter train with only one slipper, and her wry humor is a […]

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