March 28, 2012

February Contest Winner: Beast's Beauty, By Diana Parparita

Hunter had thought himself prepared. He'd expected the tall, hulky beast, the evil glint reflected in its fangs, its long black claws, its mane of tangled fur, he'd even expected the knife pointed at his throat. What he hadn't expected was the short chubby woman holding the knife. One moment of surprise was enough for her to strike. The knife lunged at his throat. Hunter closed his eyes instinctively. He heard the sound of blood drops hitting the wooden floor, but felt no pain. He opened his eyes. The knife was shining half an inch from his throat, its blade gripped tightly in the beast's firm hand, ruby-red blood trickling through the clenched fingers. The woman let go of the hilt and burst into tears.

"There, there, love," the Beast said soothingly, patting her on her shoulder. "It's only a scratch."

"But, Honey-bear, he was going to kill you!" the woman answered, rubbing her eyes. "I know these so-called princes. Always snooping around, trying to slay the Beast. Think you're all mighty strong, don't you, breaking into our home like vandals, all dressed up in your shining armor, swinging those big flashy swords around, hunting innocent people who're minding their own business."

"Actually, I knocked first," Hunter pointed out.

"But you were going to kill him," the woman insisted relentlessly.

Hunter looked away sheepishly. He had certainly planned on killing the Beast. He looked around at the peacefully domestic interior of the small hut, the sparkly clean floorboards, the orderly rows of pottery on the shelves, the gurgling cauldron simmering in the fireplace, the pot of roses on the windowsill. There was no excuse in sight, no trace of the Beast's evildoings that he'd heard of in the village.

"It's because of the Beauty," he said, suddenly remembering why he'd come here in the first place. His eyes glittered with hope, thinking she'd understand and approve.

"The beauty?" the woman said, rolling her eyes. "So you want to kill my Honey-bear because you're jealous of his beauty?!"

"Huh? No!" Hunter protested, trying hard to keep his jaw from dropping at this ridiculous accusation. How could she misinterpret his noble intentions so?

"Of course you're jealous!" the woman insisted. "You're just a little yellow chick that thinks it can call itself a man because it walks on two feet! Think you'll look any better if you kill him? Beauty doesn't rub off, you know? Can't steal it either. He'd still be the most handsome man in the world even if you could kill him, and you'd still be nothing but a little straw man."

Hunter had always thought himself quite handsome, with his blond hair and childlike face that made girls swoon. He wasn't sure he could defend his life against the Beast and that tiny enraged woman, but he would not go down without defending his looks.

"He's not even a man!" he protested, pointing at the Beast with his chin. "He's a monster! All covered in fur like an animal."

"The boy's raving mad!" the woman said in consternation. "A man's supposed to have hair on his chest. And arms, and legs and other parts."

"I think he'd find me more human if I shaved," the Beast answered, scratching the tangled fur on his chin.

"But, Honey-bear, I like your beard just the way it is, all grown and rugged," the woman cooed.

Hunter looked away as the little woman reached on the tip of her toes to give the Beast a kiss.

"Not in front of the guests, love," the Beast remonstrated, turning its head away with a distinctively human blush under the fur on its cheeks.

"He was just leaving," the woman answered, throwing Hunter a menacing look.

"But... but the girl trapped here!" Hunter protested, even though his legs were already sliding towards the door. "The Beauty that the Beast holds prisoner."

"Prisoner?" the Beast asked in genuine surprise. "No one's keeping her prisoner. Why, I wouldn't even let her stay if she weren't such a good cook."

"You big tease!" the woman said, pretending to give the Beast a punch in the ribs.

"But... if I could just see her," Hunter insisted, feeling behind him for the doorknob, "make sure she's happy here."

"She's right here!" the Beast protested, putting his arm around the woman's shoulders. "The most beautiful girl in the world, and every bit as pretty as when I married her twenty years ago."

Hunter's eyes widened. He stumbled backwards out the door, and ran down the hill from the Beast's hut. Behind him, he could hear the woman laughing. When he reached the foot of the hill he thought he heard her say, "You can turn back into your human form now, Honey-bear. Now, where were we when he barged in?"

Diana Părpăriţă lives in Bucharest, Romania.


Cat Russell said...

Oh, that was precious!

Lissa said...

Great twist--beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder! Well done.

A.L. Loveday said...

Most retellings of Beauty & the Beast never question the idea that 'Beauty' is physically beautiful, so I really like what you've done here :)

Diana Parparita said...

Thank you to everyone who left comments. It makes me very happy to know that you've read my story and that you liked it.

Anonymous said...

What a sweet twist on the traditional fairy tale! It’s wonderful to read a story that depicts Beauty and her Beast years down the line and still as much in love with each other as they were when they were young. It’s true that there is someone for everyone and someone who truly loves you will find you beautiful no matter what the rest of the world thinks of you. Beautiful features are only a minor fraction of a person; a beautiful soul and personality are more important in a relationship because they are what lasts when a person ages.

It is very funny to see the perspective of the princes that attempt to “save” Beauty only to discover that she is not who they believe her to be. She has aged from the young girl of legends and is loved for her personality not just for her face or figure. Thank you for writing such a beautiful story.

Anna W.

Anonymous said...

Molly G.
I love that this story ends up twenty years after Beauty met the Beast. This story gives you something to believe could have happen between the two beloved characters. As I was reading the story and Hunter said he was trying to rescue Beauty it reminded me of the story of Shrek. I never thought of Shrek as a version of Beauty and the Beast, but it has many similarities. The beautiful woman falls for the beast, but in Shrek and in this case the beast does not get the fortune of changing into a human form. In the end of this story it hints that he might be able to change form, but it could be just a trick of Hunter's ears. It was interesting that over twenty years have gone by and in the village people must still discuss the young beauty that was captured by the beast so long ago. I'm glad to know they were able to live happily together in a small hut obviously content with only each other and still in love even now when Beauty is described to have gained some weight and grown a little older.

Anonymous said...

This certainly wasn’t what I expected. Though it was a great little story of a future beauty and the beast. I enjoyed how beauty wasn’t the same twenty years down the road and how she poked fun at the hunter. I also enjoyed the ending where the hunter could hear beauty tell beast he could turn back into his human form. I found that rather amusing as it made it more of a joke they play on hunters. It was definitely different than any I have read before and it kept me wanting to see what would happen next. The introduction was very well put together as well, you had a mixture of emotions from the side of beauty. There was beauty enraged, laughing, and crying. This tale was very amusing and appealing. It is hard for me to find writings that just pull me in like that. It very well shows that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Even if beauty grew chubby over the years, beast still loved her just the same.

Brandon Dell

Anonymous said...

What a cute and quirky take on the Beauty and the Beast story!

I am sure I am not the only person who tries to figure out the story before its end, and this one sure had me changing my mind several times. I thought at first that this was going to be a “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” type of story, where they love each other so much that all they see is the person they love whether or not they are what mainstream society would consider to be attractive. As the story continued I was a little confused. Not about the identity of the beauty, that was clear enough to me, but where the story was heading. I wasn’t sure what the “point” was going to be, the lesson. I actually really enjoyed the surprise ending where it was suggested by what Hunter overheard - that the look of the beast was just a glamour. I can’t help but wonder how many people they have pulled this trick on in 20 years. If a lesson is to be had from this story I suppose it may be to not stick your nose in anyone else’s business.

- Freyja of Sessrumnir