Chapter 3: Traded for a Rose (Part Two)

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 147
Comments: 1

 

Clutching the thin coat to her trembling body, Beauty watched as the leafless oak trees zoomed by her window. Her father sped down an icy, gravel, narrow road. Worried that he might crash, she sat stiffly in the passenger seat and listened to the wheels click and the engine rattle. The car smelled like old cigarettes and strong, musty cologne. Her father did not engage her in any conversation, nor did he try to relieve her of her fears. Beauty wished he would tell her something extraordinary about this new place they sentenced her to live, yet she had so many questions to ask about the Beast. She knew her father would not answer her the way she wished him to. So, she kept her silence because his answers would only cause her fears to magnify. 

She glanced now and then out the window to see if she spotted Mr. Unknown, but no matter how far they drove, she did not see him anywhere. Beauty rubbed her hands together to warm her numb fingers, which ached from the cold. She blew into her interlaced fingers and held them out to the broken heater. 

They drove further into the dark snowy woods. The ice turned into snow, and the car struggled to navigate through the snowy roads. Over each bump and dip, Beauty clutched her hands together and prayed for someone to hear her. Why was this happening to her?  

She worried about being abandoned by both her family and Mr. Unknown. Once she completed this story, she would move onto the next one and then the one after that. She felt like a spinning top, and once she crashed and failed, would Mr. Unknown forgive her? Or would he leave her in limbo?  

Why did the original Beauty want a rose? If she had asked for seeds and soil instead, she could have grown them on her windowsill. Plants withered and died quickly within the desert. Was the rose a premonition for her future? Beauty did not understand the story's purpose. How did a woman's value equal a flower? Of course, Beauty believed it did not, but what she thought did not matter to anyone in this world. 

"We're here, Beauty." 

Wiping the moisture away with her fingers, Beauty looked out the fogged window. Her breath caught in her throat as she stared openmouthed at the fantastic sight. Rows of fruit trees lined the cement road that seemed to go on forever in the dark. Hundreds of lights lined the streets and branches. As if winter did not exist within this magical place, there was not any sign of frost, ice, or snow. Everything was full of life and vibrant colors. While the real world slept through the dead of winter, the Beast's estate existed within an ethereal, fantastical spring-like realm. 

Beauty whispered in awe, "The Beast lives in such a magical place." 

"A monster will surround itself with beautiful things to hide its ugliness," her father replied with disgust as he drove underneath an arch of wisteria. 

Beauty did not reply to her father's comment and thought back to her sisters. Even though Teresa and Gloria were both pretty, their inner selves were hideous and unpleasant. Perhaps the Beast was only ugly on the surface and was truly remarkable on the inside. 

 She pressed her face against the cold window as she gazed out into the gardens. Hedges of roses circled a large water fountain sculpture of Cupid and Psyche. 

"So beautiful," Beauty breathed. "I'd love to walk in the gardens." 

Her father remarked, "The devil curses this place. Remember why we are here, Beauty. He threatened to kill us all if you refused to come to this place. Do not let him seduce you with his magic. He's a demon in disguise." 

"Yes, papa," Beauty replied. She straightened in her seat and folded her hands in her lap. She closed her eyes and hoped to see Mr. Unknown again. 

"That's where the monster lives." 

Beauty opened her eyes and saw an enormous five-story brick mansion. The building seemed to lean forward as if it were about to swoop down and swallow them. The gardens reached the estate and engulfed the harsh building with its natural charm. She was more curious than scared, and Beauty was ready to meet the Beast. Her father had never actually described the Beast's appearance and had only said the monster was ugly. 

Her father pulled the car up near a long sidewalk that connected the road to the mansion. With his gloved hands still on the wheel, he stared straight ahead and waited for her to exit the vehicle. 

"Are you coming in with me?" 

"I'm sorry, Beauty. I decided on the way up here that it would be better for you to stay here. If you returned home, and the Beast changed his mind, we would not be safe from his wrath. Please forgive your weak father. Think of your sisters at home." 

"I see," she replied with a flat tone. "I guess this is goodbye." 

She opened the door and grabbed her bag that she had packed earlier from the back seat before slipping out of the car. Her father did not say anything else, so she closed the door. Without a glance, he drove away with her, still standing in the same place. 

Beauty shivered from the lukewarm temperature, as it was not hot, nor was it cold. She was not sure what to do. Her father had betrayed her. She had not even known him that long and already she disliked the spineless man. Forget him, she thought, move on with the story.  

"That's right," Mr. Unknown said, replying to her thoughts, as he materialized next to her. 

She jumped in surprise and glared at him. "Why do you keep appearing like that? And can you hear my thoughts?" 

"Don't make any sudden movements. They are watching us." He replied, avoiding her questions. 

"What is that supposed to mean?" 

"The E.L.A. is here. They already altered the story. Your father was supposed to go into the mansion with you." 

"Are you going to kill me since I messed up the story?" 

"What the hell? How did you even get that from what I just said? No, we will not kill you. I swear H-..." Mr. Unknown stopped speaking. He took a deep breath and paused. 

"What?" 

"Son of -" Mr. Unknown rubbed his hand over his face and then took another long, deep breath. "I almost said your real name." 

"And that is?" 

"You won't trick me into saying it. CLOAK ordered me to keep your identity a secret. Nice try, though." 

"Excuse you? I am not at all convinced that it is my fault that I lost my memory. It is CLOAK's fault. Not remembering your name is like not having one. Wouldn't that bother you?" 

"You have many names. Right now, you are Beauty," Mr. Unknown said with a wide grin. 

Beauty frowned. Her left eye twitched as she struggled to regain her temper. 

"Did I hurt your feelings? Poor Beauty doesn't like her name." 

She clasped her hands together and exhaled before she returned his grin and said, "Stop being a jerk. Are you always like this?" 

"Yes." 

"Mr. Unknown, please, I want to know my real name." 

"Finish a few more stories, and then I'll tell you. But first, you need to complete the one that you are in currently. CLOAK will minimize the damage created by the E.L.A. Remember this Beauty; you are twenty-one in this story. You're compassionate, and you don't judge others by their appearances." 

"I'll keep that in mind. It was hard with my sisters. Teresa and Gloria were awful." 

"If you don't know how to answer, just smile and ask a question instead." 

"Does that usually work?" 

"Sometimes." 

"Well, that's helpful." Beauty said with a dry voice. "Anything else I need to know before I go in?" 

"If anything glows unnaturally, it's been changed by the E.L.A." 

"Glows? I didn't see anything like that on my father." 

"Really? Damn them up there. I'll talk with my supervisor, and we'll have that fixed." 

"My memories?" 

Mr. Unknown laughed. "Good one, Beauty. Try not to die." 

"What?" Beauty shrieked. "Will the Beast..." 

"Not unless the E.L.A. tries to change the story. But I will be watching to make sure that does not happen 

Beauty glanced at the mansion and frowned. "If the story does change for the worst, would you save me?" 

"You don't need to worry about that." 

"That doesn't answer my question." 

Mr. Unknown coughed and hid a smile. He continued without acknowledging her. "Be aware of what you say and do because the E.L.A. may try to kill you themselves rather than manipulate the story." 

"I thought they only wanted the ending changed." 

"If you're dead, then there is no story." 

"And if Beauty dies, I die." 

Mr. Unknown nodded. "I'm afraid so." 

"I'll do my best so that won't happen." 

He gave her a soft smile. Pulling out his pocket watch, he glanced at the time. With a quick snap, he replaced the timepiece in his coat pocket. "Goodbye, Beauty." 

And just as he appeared, he disappeared without a sound. Beauty stood, clutching her bag to her chest, and walked down the sidewalk. The mansion's shadow swallowed her, and as she walked in the dark, the lights from the garden faded. Fear flashed through her body. Biting the inside of her cheek, she held her breath as she walked up the five steps leading to the front door. The large door loomed with uncertainty. She wished that she knew more about the story and herself. She reached up to the gold knocker and wrapped her fingers around the cold metal. Knocking three times, she waited for the door to open and for the story to begin finally. 


Submitted: March 08, 2019

© Copyright 2021 A.E. Surdam. All rights reserved.

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Alexandra Lynsen

An incredibly unique story theme, very original and captivating. Easy to read, yet haunting and intriguing enough.

Sun, March 17th, 2019 2:45am

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Thank you so much. Your words inspire me. I’m glad that you enjoyed it so far.

Sat, March 16th, 2019 10:16pm

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