Wednesday Work in Progress…




I thought I’d share with you a snippet of a story I started a while ago. I’m not sure what the title will be, but it’s a kind of twist on the fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast. It’s set in a world where beauty and being beautiful is seen as evil, and being plain or average was seen as a great advantage. 🙂

I hope you enjoy it.

Untited copyrighted c. 2013. T.A. Chase

Hidden behind a very large oak, Calest watched the young man lead the girl away from the woods. He longed to call out and say good-bye, but he knew he couldn’t do that. Too many minutes of listening to his mother’s warning trained him to obey her wishes.

You must never let the villagers know you exist. If they find out about you, they will kill you. They think you are a monster.

Calest remembered asking his mother if he really was a monster. She’d draw him onto her lap, and cradled his face in her hands. Tears had welled in her eyes as she told him he was the most beautiful boy in the whole world, and he shouldn’t listen to ignorant people who believed in fairy tales.

He still wasn’t sure what she meant by that, but Calest accepted his mother’s words as the truth. He was beautiful, yet the villagers would fear him as a monster. So he watched whenever one of them came into the forest. He never approached them, shadowing their steps from one end of the woods to the other.

But it was the young man walking away from him that had intrigued him from the first moment he’d laid eyes on him. Calest didn’t know why the millwright’s son fascinated him so much.

He’d managed to follow Sean home one night as the man left the woods. Sneaking his way through the village, he’d discovered the young man’s name and what his father did. Calest had peered into the window of Sean’s house, watching as he cooked an evening meal.

A couple strolling through the village had scared him and he’d scurried back to his home. He’d never gotten the courage up to go out into the village again, and then winter arrived, trapping him in his cabin deep in the middle of the forest.

During the long harsh cold, Calest had dreamt and thought about the millwright’s son. He imagined what it would feel like to touch the man’s hair and skin. He didn’t understand the feelings and urges he had, since he’d never felt them before for anyone. Of course, it wasn’t like he ran across a lot of people in his woods. Most of them would have run away from him the moment he appeared.

Calest couldn’t even ask his mother. She’d passed away four years ago during another particularly rough winter. He’d been alone since then, wandering around the forest like a ghost, always yearning for more than what he had, but knowing he wouldn’t be able to have it.

When he saw Sean earlier that morning, he’d been thrilled to have the man back in his woods. He’d been tempted to approach Sean and speak to him, but he hesitated, unsure of how Sean would react to his presence, so he hung back.

Yet when he saw Sean get trapped in the scent of the Rapture flower, Calest had broken his promise to his mother about never interacting with the villagers. He got Sean away from the plant, but he knew the effects of the pollen would last for several hours.

Calest had approached the donkey with trepidation. He’d never dealt with a creature like that, but the animal didn’t seem bothered by him. It really acted like it was worried about Sean, nuzzling the man’s hair and huffing excitedly. Calest knew Sean had come to gather wood, and he didn’t want him to get in trouble. So he carried Sean to the edge of the forest, settling him down under a large oak.

After that, he turned to the donkey, and politely gestured for the creature to follow him. It seemed reluctant to go at first, but Calest persisted and finally it accompanied him to where there were several dead falls. It took most of the day, but Calest managed to fill the cart with all the wood it could hold.

When he finished, he returned to Sean, and moved him out away from the trees, where someone would find him. He tied the donkey to an oak nearby, making sure he could graze and get water from the bucket he found in the cart. Calest had filled it on their way back from the clearing.

Then he slipped away, watching from a far to make sure nothing happened to Sean until someone found him. When the rather unattractive female grabbed Sean and shook him, a strange emotion welled up in Calest. He didn’t like the idea of anyone else touching Sean. Why would he feel like that when he had no claim to the man? They hadn’t even spoken, and Sean didn’t know he even existed.

Once Sean and the woman were out of his sight, Calest turned to stroll back to where his cabin nestled, stopping to dig up the Rapture flower on the way. He didn’t want anyone else getting caught by its hypnotic pollen.

How had the plant gotten to that part of the forest? Usually they grew in the northern reaches of the woods. Maybe because of the rather cold weather they’d been having up until now, the flower had decided to expand its growing area.

He wrapped the roots in his handkerchief, and continued on his way to his cabin. Behind the building, he planted the flower in his garden. Standing back, he studied the odd collection of plants growing in his back yard.

His home was in one of the few clearings found in the very center of the forest. Travelers had never discovered it, because none had ever strayed from the road meandering from one edge of the woods to the other. His privacy was one of the few reasons he was thankful for the villagers’ fear of monsters in the forest.

He stared at the sea of color spread out in front of him. Most of the flowers weren’t dangerous in any way, yet the villagers feared them because of their beauty. His mother had begun the garden when she first came to live in the Demon Woods. She claimed that ancient fears and ignorant superstitions would drive those who live outside the forest to destroy all things beautiful.

Calest walked through his garden to the very edge of the clearing. He knelt in front of the wooden cross he’d placed to mark his mother’s grave. He cleaned some weeds out of the middle of the white and yellow flowers he’d planted there on the day he buried her.

“Hello Mother,” he said softly. He smiled as a gentle breeze teased his hair. “It’s been an interesting day.”

He proceeded to recount all the events of his day as the sun set and night slowly invaded his yard. He wasn’t afraid of the darkness, and shadows held no monsters for him. When he finally finished telling his mother what he’d done, he leaned over and kissed the cross before he climbed to his feet.

It was time for him to make dinner and settle in front of the fire for the rest of the night. He’d done all his chores earlier in the day before setting off to spy on the village. Calest had set a stew to cooking and it should have been ready by now.

Calest entered his cabin, shutting the door behind him before lighting the lantern hanging just inside. He checked on his supper, and dished it out on the one plate he had. Sitting at the table, he ate quickly, dunking his bread in the broth to get the last drops. He’d discovered he enjoyed cooking during his mother’s last days, when she hadn’t been strong enough to make anything for them.

After washing his dish and setting the stew back over the coals to keep warm for the morning, Calest settled in the chair closest to the hearth and pulled out one of his tattered books. He only had four books, and had read them all over the years. He had no way of getting more, so he treated them like they were treasures, even though the pages were falling out and the covers had ripped apart years earlier.

 An hour later, Calest sighed and gave up on reading. He shut his book and set it aside, slouching in his chair to stare at the glowing embers in the fireplace. His mind hadn’t stopped thinking about Sean and how the man had felt in his arms. Calest hadn’t allowed himself to dwell on it while taking care of the drugged villager.

Now he had nothing to focus on, and his mind remembered every single touch and brush of skin and hair. He relived how intriguing Sean smelled like newly cut wood and freshly turned earth. Somehow he’d known Sean would fit well in his embrace, though Calest wished the man had been awake, so he could have looked into Sean’s eyes.

He shook his head, and snorted. If Sean’s eyes had been open, all Calest would have seen in them was fear. His mother had explained why the people of Anleou were scared of beautiful things and people.

Every day Calest thanked his mother for having the courage to run away from the village instead of allowing them to end his life.  The practice of killing pretty children had come into being shortly after the Demon War, and no one thought of how barbaric it was. Not one mother or father questioned the law, and thousands of children were butchered over the centuries, until all the attractiveness had been bred out of the Anleou people.

His mother had been the first to go against the authorities. When she’d seen how beautiful her little boy was becoming, she knew his life would end on his fifth birthday.  So she ran away into the Demon Woods. The villagers feared the forest more than they did a little boy. They probably believed the woman and her child would die within days of entering the forest.

Somehow his mother had managed to survive and create a life for them both. While it had often been lonely, Calest had come to understand why they remained isolated from the rest of the world.

And until the day he saw Sean, he’d been happy in his solitude.

6 Responses “Wednesday Work in Progress…”

  1. Marie A. says:

    I’ll be looking forward to this story!!!

  2. Martha says:

    Sounds really interesting.
    Can’t wait for it to come out if you are going to continue on it.

  3. Judy Catalano says:

    This sounds really interesting – let us know when you get a title and when it will be published. Thanks.

  4. josexpressions says:

    I like it!

  5. Cynthia says:

    Very interesting uummm Thanks for sharing it

  6. Yvonne says:

    This is going to be a good one. Do it you have an idea of where it may fall on the release list?

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