In a hard-to-connect, weird line of logic, mostly ridiculous way, I consider myself a sort of Cinderella.

I’ve loved the story all my life. I remember my mom reading me a condensed version from a huge storybook we had on the shelf, and then remember the thrill of seeing the Disney version on the big screen. There were times when I believed in princes, and magic, and I accepted that in life there were such things as wicked stepsisters and selfish out-for-themselves people, who with little thought would give nothing and take everything.

Honestly, though, it wasn’t until I was in my 30s and I took my young sons to a stage version of “Cinderella,” that I had an “aha” moment I think of still. It’s the scene where the clock is starting to chime at the midnight hour and Cinderella races from the ballroom, losing a glass slipper on the stair.

It’s over, we think, because we can’t imagine a situation that will connect the original wearer with her shoe. Cindy used up just about a lifetime of magic to get to the ball. There’s only so much a fairy godmother can fix, and the pumpkin into a coach, mice into horses tricks should have been enough.

Truthfully, I’d have lost the glass slippers sometime before the first dance. About 10 years ago, reading the story to a 5-year-old, I shared my aversion to uncomfortable shoes, which I think glass ones would surely be, and she advised it’s best to try on the shoes and make sure they “fit OK” before you wear them to a ball. So that’s another lesson for all of us.

All this to say, I’ve been channeling Cinderella since probably about this time last year, and presidential campaigns began. You know what I mean? I imagined that somehow this was all going to work out. The right shoes were going to get to the right feet. The wicked were going to be removed from the scene.

I weathered the conventions and the formal nominations, and I thought, “Nov. 8. Election day will be our midnight. It will be over. We’ll go on. We’ll mend. We’ll fix. We’ll do. We’ll patch. We’ll pray and we’ll put what we can behind us, smarter for what we’ve learned and with absolutions to do better.”

We’re this close and I have no belief whatsoever that it’s possible for any of that to happen. There will be no winners Nov. 8 – least of all we, the citizens of this great nation. As to those vying for the highest office of the land, the one who manages to get the most votes will be punished by the one, and the party, who didn’t. And the fight will go on, and on, and on. And we will all lose.

The only agreement will be to continue the bitterness and the fight, to turn our wrong side out, the bright side dark, call each other names and complain.

Complain and blame. Blame the other party, complain about those who are less fortunate and who fail to live up to our standards – even though those we’ve nominated for president fail “bigly” to live up to our standards, no matter how we bend the truth and hide the facts.

How’s that going to work for us? Well, judging from the last eight years, where congress has failed to accomplish anything – so set were they to deny the president the election he’d won – I’d say, “Not well.”

Nov. 8 is nearly here, and I am sad and disillusioned down to my very bones. I feel confused, and stupid. And honestly, and truly, I feel like some sort of old grandmotherly Cinderella who believes – dreams – about how wonderful it’s going to be if some fairy godmother comes along and magically makes it possible for me to go to the ball.

But then, I’m going to get to the ball and I’m going to get to dance with the prince, and he’ll know with amazing certainty that I’m a terrible dancer. Worse than that, the glass slippers are going to hurt my feet and all that I thought was going to be great and beautiful is going to be gold and glitz, and a far stretch from real life.

There really isn’t a happily ever after, you know. But there’s a right and a wrong, which will require each of us to decide the way we can be a part of the solution, is to stop being part of the problem.

Editor’s note: Candace Cooksey Fulton is a freelance writer, formerly of Brownwood, now living in San Angelo. Her weekly columns are published Sundays in the Brownwood Bulletin and Thursdays in the San Angelo Standard-Times and are unique for each paper. She can be reached at ccfulton2002@yahoo.com.