ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

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Friday, 14 February 2014

Write...Edit...Publish prompt - What's in a face? My story, Beauty and the Beast, a fractured fairytale.

For my Write...Edit...Publish entry this month, I am offering a fractured fairytale. If you know the story of Beauty and the Beast, you will get some of the references. I struggled with how to finish it, but I think the ending belongs to a longer story, so I had to make do. I hope you enjoy the read...

The brief was...

TIME for the February challenge for WEP. The prompt is - What's in a face?
What comes to your mind - a ghost story? a treatise on the scientific dimensions of the face? a poignant poem? a photo that captures the face? artwork? Whatever strikes you as inspiration, go for it! 
February 14 is Valentine's Day. You are welcome to incorporate this romantic day, but it is not mandatory! Just remember to keep your flash fiction or non-fiction to approx. 1,000 words.


Beauty and the Beast

Why are some people blessed with beauty while other poor souls miss out, abandoned to the world with faces that look like they have been kicked, punched and torn by a savage beast?  He has heard the expression: kissed by an angel.  Well, he was kissed by the Devil when he gushed, kicking and screaming, from his mother’s womb some thirty years hence.

His life lacked beauty from that first moment, but he finally learned the truth from the birthing attendant, Marjorie. “Take this Devil’s spawn from me!” his mother had screamed. “Leave him on an anthill far inside the forest. I hereby name him ‘Beast’!”

Marjorie saved his life, but his mother’s rejection sentenced him to a life of misery. Every time he sees his reflection, he cringes, he hates, he dreams of revenge. His face is like a monster’s, his eyes black as the pitch he collects from the boglands, his hands permanently stained with inky sludge.

As Beast clumps along the muddy laneway, he oft-times examines his reflection in the smudgy shop windows. He is thankful that his hair has been overlooked by the Devil. It is long, curled and sleek from the rain and snow which falls upon him as he huddles in the abandoned garden near Grimwade Bridge.

***
Beast wakes to another day. Even without rising from his damp bed, he can guess the weather. Real books are denied him, but these are his books: the colour of the sky overhead at dawn, the cries of seabirds over the icy river, the noisy crackle of waves as the tide ebbs and flows.

He runs his work-wrecked fingers through his hair and prepares to leave. He shrugs into his torn black greatcoat which has offered some protection against the night freeze. Will I ever know warmth? He feels the throbbing need for love. Will I ever know the sweetness of a pure woman? The whores of Grimwade aside, what woman would welcome my cracked, broken hands on her soft body? I need a sweet woman to release me from this prison my witch of a mother sentenced me to.
 
Beast shakes snowflakes from his hair, brushes the white drops from his shoulders, then knocks on the nearest door. He salivates at the vision of the hot gruel the kind mistress will feed him.

He lifts his gnarled fingers to the shiny gold lion’s head and raps on the cheery yellow door. No answer. He tries again, clump, clump, clump. Strange. The kind mistress always opens her door speedily.

He reaches out his arm, then withdraws quickly as he all but touches the face framed in the doorway.

The kind mistress is not at the doorway.  Instead…a vision…Beauty…stands before him, dressed from head to toe in a silky robe, spun from sunshine.  He beholds a wondrous golden face wreathed in smiles, laughing eyes and perfect white teeth.   At the sight of her heart-shaped face framed by a crown of golden hair, he cannot speak. What lies beyond that perfect face? 

He steps a little closer, the better to smell her feminine sweetness; a memory of summer strawberries picked in the abandoned garden.

“Good morning, kind sir.” Her voice transports him to the buttresses of the Opera House where he was wont to eavesdrop on the melodies within. “My mother did speak of you, but is currently detained. She asked me to greet you in her stead.” She takes his hand and he feels how soft and small it is clasped within his rough, stiff claw. Beauty blesses him with a sweet smile, one dimple dancing in her cheek, as if her face itself is winking at him.

Perchance she is confusing him with another. He rasps with longing. “I have but pitch for sale, Mistress.”

“Yes, indeed. My mother has waited on you. She said that you never steal from us.”

She misinterprets his silence as he imagines by what trickery he will steal Beauty from her mother’s kitchen.  

“Oh dear sir, do come in. Shelter inside awhile. You must be chilled to the bone in this snowstorm. Our furnace rages day and night. When I lie in my warm bed it is like I have died and gone to heaven; I’m in a fairytale world. I never want to wake up. I expect that is why I have never seen you before.” She looks upon his hair. “I am too enraptured by my dreams.”

He watches as the thoughts dance beneath the surface of her skin, wondering at her dreams. He flicks his long tresses so they cover the lower half of his face, hoping she will be enraptured by his glossy mane and overlook his ugly visage.

He follows her into the grand foyer, his hungry eyes ravished by sights such as he has never seen before—tall ceilings trimmed in gold leaf; walls of green silk, the hue of the forest; furniture of the deepest mahogany, like tree branches. He wonders at the single red rose at the window. Is she already betrothed? No matter...

He drops his load beside the crackling fire while thinking - how can people live like this while I, the Devil’s spawn, live with no walls to enclose me?   His ceilings are the underbelly of Grimwade Bridge, his furniture crafted from scraps of timber he finds floating in the river. Why does God choose to give all to some and nothing to others?

“Please, kind sir, stand against the fire. Warm yourself while I make you coffee.” She holds out an apple. He crunches it with his sharp teeth.

Soon he feels uncomfortable. He is not accustomed to such a roaring fire, within or without. He has never known what it feels to be too much heated. He begins to think he would prefer the howling gale outside. It becomes just another part of the ordeal he is meant to suffer. But, be damned, I am done with suffering...I deserve to live...I deserve to wear splendid clothes...To sleep with a full belly each night...To sleep beside this sweet woman.

He strokes his hair, capturing a curl with a thick finger.

Beauty will know the Beast.

He will teach her.

Life is no fairytale.

***


WORDS: 1035



  • As always, thanks for coming by. I appreciate your visit. I hope you enjoyed my flash fiction. Please leave a comment and suggestions for improvement. Maybe you'll pick up some tense mistakes. It was tricky moving between past, present and future.
  • Please click on the names in my right hand sidebar to read more entries for WEP's monthly bloghop. And the invitation is open for you to participate any month that the prompt resonates with you...March is - Through the eyes of a child.
  • Don't forget Michelle Wallace's bloghop, Ubuntu, starting on February 18. Click on the image in my sidebar for more info. Mine is done, dusted and pre-scheduled.
  • Happy Valentine's Day! 











93 comments:

  1. Ah, the romantic that I am -- I had hoped for another ending. But years of self-hatred and envy of others could have produced nothing but the beast he was inside. Interesting post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will definitely write another ending so it's more HEA.

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  2. A perfect combination of sinister and sweet. This is a scary beast of foul deeds. Loved the emotion, the sense of longing and entitlement. I liked it :)

    ......dhole

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Donna, you picked the things I hoped readers would.

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  3. How sad. Nice little tale, but it aroused such horrid thoughts. By the way, hence is forward not backward.

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    Replies
    1. So it is Jo...a pity...it fitted so well there too!

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  4. I was very much caught up with story and wondered how it will end ~ Creative twist on this beloved story but then life is no fairy tale ~

    Thanks for this lovely story ~ Maybe we should have a fairy tale theme with a twist, smiles ~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, fairytales are always fun to play with. Maybe in the second half of the year we could have such a prompt...maybe Halloween even...

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  5. On my second round here, I liked the story the first time and even better the second time. Have to say I completely loved the ending - life is no fairy tale indeed. You could totally tease out the end a bit more, and never mind word counts! Not every story needs to be a round 1000,sometimes longer feels fine too.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Nila. I agree...I want to play some more with this, then I will publish it on Wattpad. I made the 1,000 limit rule, so I feel like I'm setting a bad example if I go over too often. :(

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  6. I liked your writing style which captured the angst of the story and like the other commentators, the ending clinched it.

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  7. Ohhh almost sinister that ending! Makes you wonder, will he truly become the "Beast" inside as well as out, or will he stay true to his seemingly good nature and earn her love...? Great and entertaining!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, Lisa, i haven't answered those questions, even to myself. But I will...

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  8. Hi Denise .. I too hoped he'd see sense and wait for the right moment, but the Beast took hold ... as Lisa mentions above .. I hope he will earn her love ..

    Loved the read - it took me back to the Parisian back-streets not the setting though .. just the Angelique series in some ways .. - cheers Hilary

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  9. I found an old Angelique novel at a booksale, so must read it and see...

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  10. Do I detect a bit of naughtiness in the Beast? I liked the musings of his human mind, while he still feels like an animal, caged inside. This could be before the story we know a la Disney. The variety of posts make for a nice read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. D.G. Thanks. I'm glad you are enjoying reading the posts. They are all so varied.

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  11. Denise, this is an intriguing piece! I like it! By the way, today I read about Wattpad for the first time, and now I see you mention it again here! I shall have to look into it? Are you settled back home again now?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Val, nearly settled again. Always so busy at the beginning of the school year. Wattpad has the potential to get your writing read by a wide audience. I only just joined so am still learning.

      Delete
  12. Hi Denise,

    My good friend, you have captured an essence of hope beyond what might be a normal reality for the Beast. Sometimes beyond the fairytale, we can visualise a love without boundaries.

    Beautifully written, Denise.

    Gary :)

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    Replies
    1. Gary, lovely of you to drop by. Glad you enjoyed my Beast. Hope all is well with you my friend.

      Delete
  13. "Real books are denied him, but these are his books: the colour of the sky overhead at dawn, the cries of seabirds over the icy river, the noisy crackle of waves as the tide ebbs and flows. "

    I really liked this! I love a lot of the sensory details in this short piece. I think you did a lovely job with this, especially the ending! Nice job!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Mary Mary. High praise coming from you!

      Delete
  14. Oh dear, I was afraid of that, my lovely comment didn't post - damn computers! LOL
    I loved this one - and still think - well, I mentioned it in the first comment I made - that beauty may just have something to teach the beast in this interesting tale! Can sense the tide turning but not necessarily in his direction. My take, anyway. Great job!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. You know me, Y, Beauty will certainly get the upper hand eventually.

      Delete
  15. Beauty and the Beast is one of the best examples of character arc I have seen. My kids still watch that movie. It's deep, and there is always something new to discover in the story.

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    Replies
    1. Yes Stephen, I agree. Fairytales are a rich mine for writers.

      Delete
  16. I'm with Roland - I was so hoping for a different ending for him. Still, love the unexpected twist too! Hope Beauty manages to escape...
    Love this especially: " these are his books: the colour of the sky overhead at dawn, the cries of seabirds over the icy river, the noisy crackle of waves as the tide ebbs and flows."

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  17. I didn't see any fault. I thought it was really good. Loved the twist at the end.

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  18. I like the ending, very strong imagery.

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  19. An interesting take on Beauty and the Beast. Thank you for sharing.

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  20. It interesting story about ugliness and how we really feel about it. Are you challenging the reader? But not complete there is more isn't there? the character have more to say I hope?

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  21. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  22. Hi Denise.
    Finally made it here to read your wonderful story. I loved it.
    The twist at the end gave me the chills... and now I'm wondering about The Beast's intentions...
    I sense human-beastly conflict at play and I'm curious to know which side of the personality will dominate.

    ReplyDelete
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