He had been called beastly for so many years that Beast he became, and so he was shunned from all around him. He fled to the deepest part of the wild wood where even the bravest feared to tread and lived in shame and isolation; and soon he repented his actions, though his countenance changed not.
Sunday, 27 May 2018
Beast in the beauty
Stories are strange: what starts off as fact soon becomes fiction, and after repeated tellings even the most far-fetched yarn can begin to sound like truth. People are much like this too.
He changed his ways, learned to appreciate the solitude and became friends to the other wooded creatures, for they saw beneath his fearsome visage and saw the gentle soul; the ache behind his eyes. Yet whenever he stumbled upon those who wandered too far –either mistakenly through inebriation or a badly judged bet- he was always judged harshly before he even had a chance to speak, and so faced either fear or aggression; so he gave up even trying.
Until one day a young Beauty wandered into his very cottage: wide-eyed innocence, fair hair and deep blue eyes. At first he thought that she was lost and waited for her to leave, hiding as best he could, lest he frighten her too much. But she didn’t leave.
“I know that you’re there; I can hear you breathing. I don’t know who you’re trying to fool. I’ve come to see you; to seek you out.” He tried holding his breath but only started coughing instead. She found him easily, cowering behind the curtains. “That’s not very beastly.” She said.
“Not everything is as it seems.” He replied, his voice sounding hollow after having no one else to talk to for so long.
“No.. indeed. Well, you might try a little harder. I have a proposal for you.”
The Beast was perplexed. Initially he was intrigued by this beauty, then bemused and the more she talked the more bemused he became. “I could give you a home, companionship and fame. You are known throughout the land as the fearsome beast. Can you imagine how famous we could become? The Beast and the Beauty who tamed him!”
The idea was ludicrous but the more she talked, the more he found himself listening; she was captivating: her eyes had a cold diamond hardness behind them that told him she was used to people doing what she wanted; and he felt himself compelled to do so as well.
Within three hours he agreed to be paraded in front of the village as the repentant Beast.
As she expected they flocked to see him. They gathered around him in fear initially; in awe at what had lurked in the dark woods: he was the stuff of legends. Many people came from far away as the stories spread. During the day he was caged and roared, striking out at the people around him as he had agreed to; until one day he grew tired of this behaviour.
He had attained a degree of peace and self-acceptance before this and that was now denied him. For sure, in the evenings he lived in luxury with Beauty but even then he was treated as no better than a pet. He had been happier on his own in the wood; but he had signed a pact so had to serve her.
One day the anguish of him being caged became too much and he began to cry; much to the shock of those that crowded around him. Some jeered but most were moved, so imagine their shock when he said three words in his deep, velvet tones: “No more, please.”
This was beyond all reckoning. More flocked to see him and wanted to hear him speak; and so his fame spread further, much to Beauty’s delight. She now dressed him in luxurious clothes that heightened the incongruity of such a beast.
People then began to feel sorry for him and question why he was still being caged. They had been led to believe that he was the Beast, but as time passed they realised that this was not so. They then saw who the beastly one was.
And, as if often does in stories, the tides turned; slowly, gradually: at first she didn’t noticed. The Beast slowly moulted and she became a little uglier each day; her hair becoming ragged, skin sallow and drawn; pockmarked and blotchy. She then developed fangs and grew fur where none should be seen in a lady.
She made the Beast’s life hell then, but he was no longer the beast and would stand for it no longer. When the transformations were finally complete she looked wretched and forlorn, truly beastly.
He was magnificent and noble, a true Prince. He offered her two choices: live as he had in the cage or go back to the wood. She did not appreciate the irony and chose isolation… and I believe she is there still.