April 23, 2014

Beauty & the Beast : A Modern Stockholm Syndrome “Love Story”

Our prompt here was to create a retold version of a classic / fairy tale. Naturally I chose Beauty and the Beast but I wanted to make it a little darker (as if it were a German rather than French story). Belle is deluded and reinterprets some of what (we, the audience - aware of the traditional story, know to be true ... such as the fact that she is not there by choice etc.) 

Beauty and the Beast – A Modern Stockholm Syndrome “Love Story”
“Beast” I called him. For indeed that is what he seemed to me at first. Ghastly, and despicable, but time has healed our tensions. Time has transformed my ability to understand the truth- I made the lonely journey through depression to the softer lands of toleration to a love so passionate and pure the sun itself burns in envy. A love like ours will last unrivaled until the end of time itself.
Master’s home is enormous, as big and grand as something you’d see on TV. When I met my love, I had just lost my job and my lease expired- given the choice between being homeless and living with “Beast”, it seems like a pretty obvious choice. How could I ever decide otherwise? Now that I have come to know him, I never want to leave his side!
Initially I thought he was crazy. I eventually came to realize my master is simply eccentric- a man who carries the troubles of world upon his shoulders and the burdens of an artist in his heart. Beast swore the house was magical. He wanted a muse to help him with his art but only one that could hear the voices, see the colors, feel the magic lingering in the air. Confused, I listened, trying to understand. He told me to go to the wardrobe and pick an outfit- whatever “spoke” to me. I didn't understand but I complied. I began to browse and came across a yellow dress – it was perfect – almost as if it was calling my name – I told him this and he was pleased, he stroked his beard as he always does when he is beaming. “I’d hoped you’d picked that one. The voices, you can hear their magic?” There was no voice, just intuition, but I did not want to disappoint him, my master, and so I lied and said I heard it. He was pleased with me that day and most days after that. It was sometime after that I stopped resisting him – if he asked me to wash his paint brushes for him – I’d do it without complaining. Make coffee, change the sheets, clean the dishes, it does not matter to me so long as he remains satisfied with my work.
There’s rules of course, like his soft leather bound journal with the little roses etched on the cover. I’m not supposed to look at it– his words moved me made me crossed into his world- could see it from his eyes. Once he caught me with it in hand, it would have been hard to deny that I was reading it- I didn't even try. My master’s face grew long with disappointment, as if I had committed some heinous act of treason against him and all he held to be dear. He ran his fingers through his long hair. This was my fault. Master told me not to look at it and I disobeyed him. I did not mean to offend him.
           Truly, there was no singular, defining moment. My change of heart was a gradual process- forgetting all I knew and loved, my Saturday morning runs in the park, the opera, Friday night crochet club– and accepting my new reality with stoic contentment. Of course, being with Master, I managed to escape other horrors of the world- like the relentlessly flirtatious Mr. G. Aston across the hall in 32B, girl scouts, and of course public transportation.  
Slowly, as I watched him day by day, at first looking to escape but later for signs of his affection, I felt the ground slip from beneath me- like a cliff eroding, pebble at a time. The taste of the words I used to insult him, mocking him with “Beast” and “Master”, had changed on my tongue from honey to ash. How could I be so cruel to- overlook his love for me and lash out with hateful words against him? I still use these, he has yet to correct me with a legal name, and insists on calling me “Belle” rather than Isabelle. Still, every time these words flow off my tongue I take caution so as to give it a nature half as noble as he, my loving master. I would like to stay with him here— together for all time.    

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