The Beastly Love Triangle
This story is one of love. It is the tale of how a woman finds a beast and how a beast finds a woman’s heart. Picture two women exploring the new fallen snow in one of the town’s pine forests. The year is 1936 and they walk wrapped up in their luxury fur capes, which drag the powder snow behind them. The one in the black coat is Isabella and the one in the white coat is Laura.
“And you’re sure he’s the one?” laughed Isabel, “Three weeks until your wedding hun and then you’re in the second chapter of life.”
“You can’t be with somebody for as long as we have and not marry! He’s right. He’s so handsome you’d only ever expect novels to write of such beauty; and all man. What is even more astonishing is that he is as sincere and giving as he is handsome!
“I wish he had brothers! I’m always picking the wrong men.” Giggled Isabella.
Laughing the girls continued through the trees. It was the first day in winter where the warmth of the sun could be felt through the ice in the afternoon but it was quickly starting to cloud over. Having walked further than they ever had they turned back to be on their way home. Of course this story leads them into a snowstorm where they take shelter in a cave. There were dry logs they used to light a fire and found themselves comfortably stranded. The only thing that was daunting for the girls was the roaring howl that came from the depth of the forest.
Isabella woke from her sleep after midnight. Laura lay by the dying fire wrapped in her cloak fast asleep. Two yellow eyes caught the light of the moon in the darkness and vanished almost instantly when Isabella noticed. She quietly stood up and grabbed one of the sticks they had prepared earlier to light. She followed footprints she found that had already begun to snow over. “Hello?” called Isabella. She moved forward noticing a blood trail by the footprints, “Are you hurt? We can help. We have shelter and there are two of us”. A deep breathing was heard which carried a cracking growl, or wheeze? Isabella found what she had been tracking. It lay in the snow and slowly stood up towering over her. Drops of blood hit her cheek and though every muscle in her body told her to run she stayed frozen. Though hard to see through all this creature’s fur she found it was bleeding from it’s jaw and arm.
“Do you speak?”
It didn’t answer, only an exhale of air left its snout in pain. She extended her hand and opened her eyes kindly to reassure the beast.
“I promise I won’t hurt you, I only want to help. I can see the wounds better by the fire…. We’ll get you warm…” The beast took her hand and let her lead him to the cave.
In the cave she used parts of her black dress to bandage him. Though they were so different there was a curiosity and a tenderness toward each other.
In the morning when the girls awoke Isabel looked around for the beast but he was gone. She told the story of the handsome beast she found in the woods to Laura. Her description left Laura wondering if it were a dream; though she had an imagination which embraced magic and whimsy.
A week went by and Isabel went back to the forest often to look for the beast and Laura would sometimes come into the forest to find her. Throughout the week Isabella retold the story over and over again with nothing but affection. The story didn’t change so Laura believed her as it seemed so vivid, though they were both smart enough to keep it between themselves. One afternoon Laura went into the forest to find Isabel. After an hour of search she sat beside of the trees. The snow had turned into a mean ice and you could see the cold of the air on her breath as she hummed. She slowly pulled out a book to read as she sat. When she felt rested enough she stood up to go home and as she walked around the tree she found the beast who had been watching her. Fear struck now trembling body. How long had he been watching her? Remembering the kindness Isabella had talked about from him she made eye contact. His eyes were green and she saw his pupils grow large and curious. She threw her eyes down and darted between the ground and his eyes. His entire body was coated in fur and he was almost a portrayal of a man tangled between a wolf and bear. Eventually he made a gesture towards where she was covering her book. He reached for it and she offered it to him. “Can you read?” But he didn’t respond. He only flipped through the pages before stopping on the front page where the heading was, Fairy Tales.
“I never could settle into reality…” she said.
The Beast handed her back the book. They both noticed their hands as she retrieved it. Her hands were so small compared to his. She couldn’t help but smile and cautiously hold up her hand against his. Uncertain he let her press her hand into his. She looked up at him and noticed her touch almost seemed painful to him. She drew her hand away apologetically but he raised his hand in offering again. Together they touched the stranger in front of them.
* * *
The girls didn’t live in the town they were staying at. This was where they came for certain holidays and celebrations. Laura only had just under a week before the wedding and though she loved the man she was going to marry there were difficulties in their relationship she kept to herself. She walked bottled with secrets and under the shadow of guilt. She spent a lot of time in libraries as she found it to be one of the most relaxing sociable places. She was surrounded by people and her social anxieties were never confronted for more than a moment when she would have to bring the books to one of the librarians for hire. It was never short of conversation as the character’s in her books were always having such fascinating topics to discuss. She loved the philosophical and psychological discussions, especially in her fairy tales. Today she hired the beautifully illustrated Beauty and the Beast hard cover. She wrapped it up in a cloth and made her way in to the forest. During her walk she began to fall into a shallow breathe. It had been snowing the night before and started lightly to sprinkle again. She hunched over and lightly began cry. She felt the whispering of her hidden secrets taunting her. Now seated in the snow she cried in her white cape. She heard something behind her but only saw darkness under the trees. She moved to stand but as she turned, in front of her was a wild wolf. She had nowhere to go and her legs slowly took her backwards. There was a crack of a branch and she fell backwards. The wolf leaped at the chance but from behind her the Beast struck the wolf down. Now three others appeared. The Beast stood in front of her and his fur made him seem twice as large now. One wolf leaped at him and he hit it into the ground. He grabbed a second by the skin on its back that lunged at Laura throwing it against a tree. One bit him on the neck and then a second on the back. A third got his arm which Laura swung at with a log. Having his arm free allowed him to rip the other two off. After an agonizing few minutes two dead wolves was enough to make the other two run off with their injuries. The beast turned to Laura who despite being blood stained was safe. She ran to his aid and together they walked to the cave she remembered being stranded at.
* * *
Once again aided and warmed by a stranger, the Beast sat in his torn white bandages. Laura had put an antiseptic on his wound which stung him. Unfamiliar with the unexpected sting he let out a roar and grabbed Laura by the arm. He stretched it out for her to drop the rag but in fear she only clutched tighter to it.
“Please, trust me” she begged. He let her slowly begin again only this time cringing before she gently dabbed him on the neck. His breathing had slowed and the crackling of the fire was speaking between them. After she wrapped up his neck she reached into the bag under her cloak and pulled out and unwrapped the library book. She presented it to him and he gently took it.
“It’s a library book so you can’t keep it… it reminds me of you.” She whispered.
He looked at her curiously and then begun flicking through the pages. His excitement grew and he started to grunt and growl in pleasure causing Laura to laugh. She noticed his eyes darting over some the words and he found an illustrated picture of a creature dancing with a woman. He became transfixed on it. Laura was delighted to notice even his tail was uncontrollably wagging and it wasn’t long before they started to wrestle each other until they tired each other out. Laura fell asleep on him and unsure of how to first approach the situation he eventually moved her into a comfortable place and let her nestle into him. When she woke in the morning she quietly moved from his chest and gently brushed some of his hair from her cloak. He stood up and licked the side of her face. Suddenly her blood warmed her entire body and she felt a thump from her heart. She jumped back and faced him. He stood as he was. Eventually he lifted his hand up. She slowly went toward him but placed her hand on his wrist and the other on his chest. She slowly pressed herself into him and heard his heart beat. It was so strong it made her whole head move. She then pressed her chest as close to him as she could and he watched her struggle until they both felt their hearts beat together.
* * *
When Laura came home Isabel had been waiting. “Oh my god what happened to you!”
“…The creature, he really is as kind as you said.”
Isabel’s energy shifted, “You saw him?”
Laura nodded removing her tattered cloak. “How many times is that now?” pushed Isabel.
“Twice”. Laura’s heart was pounding and she struggled to breathe. Guilt crept in and before she knew it she fainted.
* * *
Laura stayed inside for the next three days as Isabella went out every so often as she said for food and walks. Laura knew she was out looking for him. Isabella had told her to stay away from the forest as seeing him was not doing her good. Laura woke up to a photograph of her and her fiancé on her bedside table with a ribbon saying, Congratulations. She felt a tear roll off her cheek and hit the sheets.
That afternoon she went into the forest again wearing a brown fur coat. Fighting her anxiety she searched for the Beast. It took all afternoon but in the evening she found him waiting for her in the cave. He came toward her on all fours and she buried her face into his fur. Laura felt so safe against him. They had an understanding for one another, something that needed no words. He grabbed a hold of her and pull her on top of him. She lay on his chest and together they felt the beating of their hearts again. He licked her cheek and she came close to his face. She closed her eyes and they fell into a kiss. She had never felt more at home than she did now in the depth of a cave.
* * *
In the morning she woke buried in his arms. She kissed him good morning and eventually made her way back to the hotel. Before leaving, the Beast returned to her the library book. She noticed the illustrated page had been torn out. At the hotel Isabel was tidying the room. “You went back” stated Isabel.
“Yes” was all Laura could muster.
As Isabel continued to clean, Laura undressed ready for a shower. The air was unbelievably tense. Laura began to find breathing difficult again. A wash of guilt went over her. It was excruciating but this time she did something different. “I love him” slipped from Laura’s lips. Isabel shot an accusing look at her.
“I guessed” whispered Isabel with virulence. “What about your fiancé?”
“I can’t marry him. We aren’t right for each other and we both know it. It would have been murder to marry him and everybody knows it. I love the, Beast” said Laura.
Frustrated Isabel erupted, “What will you do? Marry the Beast? Have hairy offspring? Live happily ever after in a government underground facility? You can’t run off with a wild creature. It wouldn’t be capable of human love.”
Isabel had stopped cleaning now and was holding back tears as successfully as a soldier.
Laura’s answer came, “I know he loves me. I don’t know why he loves me but he does… and I can’t let another moment go by where I push someone I love away just because I am terrified of disappointing people around me.”
Isabel listened to what she said but it seemed she couldn’t hear her as her blood boiled.
“People around you? Am I simply that? I love you and you do this. You’re unbelievable. I can’t agree with this. I don’t want to know you.” Shouted Isabel. Like a dagger to the kidney she slightly hunched forward and held onto a sofa for support.
“Isabel, I’m so, so sorry. I couldn’t control myself. I couldn’t ignore my feelings any longer. I’ve been suppressed and I hoped you’d understand… I know what I did was selfish but how could I continue ignoring it. One day I will grow old and only wonder, what if?”
For a moment Isabel seemed to soften but quickly shook it off. “No it isn’t right. I found him hurt. If it wasn’t for me he wouldn’t have even lived to meet you. You have no right. I refuse to continue this. I am going for a walk”. Despite the chill she stormed out without a coat, and only a whimper of her name came from Laura’s lips. Laura went into her bed chambers and sat on her bed. Catching her eye was the picture of her and her fiancé. She held it tight to her and she whimpered.
“I’m sorry, I can’t stay”. She grieved. Laura kissed the picture and let it drop to the floor causing it to shatter into a hundred pieces.
Laura had stayed in doors for another few days love sick almost identical to early consumption symptoms. Still furious Isabel still had sympathy for her friend though she never checked on her, only when the doctor came to check on her progress or to bring her a bitter soup. Isabel hoped now that she had been in bed for so long she could let the idea of the Beast go as she herself had run into the Beast early that afternoon. He seemed concerned and looked Isabel in the eye as for an answer to Laura’s absence. “Laura is to be married to a man. Did she not tell you?”
The beast froze, and remained stoic. Isabel took his paw and held it against her cheek. “We’ve both been cheated. People aren’t kind. I’m sorry”. The Beast removed his hand without blinking and slowly walked away on all fours into the darkness of the woods. It was only a minute before Isabel heard a deep howl.
* * *
As for Laura she had begun to pack her backs. Only bringing the necessities. The most precious item was her book of Fairy Tales. She left the Library book by the fire place for Isabel to find with a message inside.
Dear Isabel. You have been my loving friend for years and I am sorry I hurt you so deeply. If I could erase my love I would but that is impossible. Though I’ll admit I am relived I can’t because for the first time I feel real love and hoped I could share that with you as friends do. But I know you too well to expect forgiveness and that is a burden and a sacrifice I unfortunately have to make. I can’t live another moment of my life pleasing others. As dramatic as it sounds, I am dying and have been for many years. As Shakespeare said, “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefor is winged cupid painted blind.” I am blind but I am happy. I will always love you and I hope one day you will forgive me… even if I am not there to hear it.
Laura sealed the envelope with wax and her initials before hearing a howl not too far from her hotel. Outside stood the beautiful creature as tall as ever. He took his paw and threw it against the hotel cottage causing damage to the woodwork and a scratch down the window. Only breathing could be heard. Laura ran to the window and looked directly at him.
“What’s the matter?”
The Beat exhaled in pain and all his exhale could be seen in the ice cold atmosphere.
“What is it?’ repeated Laura. She held her hand to the foggy glass and wiped away the fog. She then held her hand against it. He slowly moved to place his over hers but frustration it caused him to crack the glass and shards of glass struck her. She pulled away in pain. Unable to resist the Beast broke the rest of the window to climb through. He held her hand and licked it. His tongue seemed rougher than normal making it possible for him to pull all the glass from her wounded hand. She sat on her bed and held her arm in pain. The antiseptic was by her bedside table which the Beast spotted. He ripped the bottom of her dress and applied some of the antiseptic to her wound mimicking what she had done for him. She withdrew in pain at first and the Beast held on to her wrist to keep her from pulling away. Laura gave in immediately and let him finish bandaging her. Tears welled in her eyes and the beast could only watch.
“Tomorrow I am supposed to be heading home to be wed…. But I don’t love him. I love you.”
He seemed to not quite grasp what she had told him but was quickly confronted with a kiss.
“I love you and only you.” She whispered. Laura went to where she had left her suitcase and brought it to him. “I want to come with you”. She took his hand and he let her climb on top of his back. In her new white fur coat she and the Beast leaped through the window and ran off into the distance further than ever before.
When Isabella came home to find the mess she knew Laura had abandoned everything. Her family, her fiancé, her friends…. And her. She pretended not to be surprised but inside she was furious; but more overwhelmingly hurt.
* * *
This ending has no known ending as they were never found afterwards. Occasionally you’d hear the howl of a creature and even sometimes the howl of a woman. These howls were not haunting in the slightest for there was joy behind the cries.
This fairy tale need no large crescendo as it had an internal one for the characters. They had to face what was stereo typically right and what was wrong. Only empathy can be a source of understanding the heartbreak and fear these characters went through. I will not spell out the moral of this story as I will let the reader decide. It may not be a liked or loved ending but it ended with one woman following her heart and one Beast/Man facing his fears of rejection in order to pursue a woman he desired and daringly revealed himself for what he was. And it was the honesty that they were both attracted to.
Little Porcelain Doll
This is a short story of a porcelain doll I wrote last year on my last visit to Sweden.
The first experience of freedom the little porcelain doll who escaped her casing was a crack to the skull from the landing off her shelf. Not too long after, her thighs were cracked but her silk dress hid her legs and her locks of hair covered her skull. Frightened thereafter she sat hidden in the dark of a corner of the toy shop in which she was born. She watched for for years the rise and fall of the sun through the window. She gathered dust leaving a clean floor mark where she sat. She witnessed storms without understanding beyond what her eyes saw but there was one phenomenon that snared her. The passive moon that also seemed to be a voyeur. Leaving the safety of her corner she walked into the grass and experience the truth of the different weathers and storms and quickly began to crack and decay her perfect frame. She followed the moon as a leading star making her porcelain glow. It took her somewhere in nowhere where she died. She crumbled under the gravity of the fullness of life. A pile of glowing powder much like ground bone. Some swept up by the wind into the seas and the rest turned to a blend of mud and earth; and her. Porcelain is not made to endure such life. What is it made for (though obvious), ask why.