Chasing Dragons

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A modern day Beauty and the Beast told in approximately 450 words. Some trigger warning for references to self harm and drug usage.

But it has a happy ending, so there's that...

Submitted: June 07, 2013

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Submitted: June 07, 2013

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The indigo sky was crying over the city, and Aloise was sinking through the floorboards, left arm laying limp with a belt wrapped tightly around the bicep. His fingers were loosely curled around the sharp, smooth edge of a shaving razor. Black trails of yesterday’s kohl ran down his cheeks. Belle found him like that, chasing dragons in their flat. He smoothed back Aloise’s hair and asked, “Why?”

 

The black rimmed lids of Aloise’s deep grey eyes were dragged closed, lashes heavy, catching sweat. Aloise recited softly from an old Disney movie they had watched together. “For who could ever learn to love a beast?” His voice was like bells, skin smelling warmly of liquorice absinthe and clove cigarettes. The indigo sky was crying over the city, and part of Belle had already accepted that he was counting syringes like seconds, waiting for the day he’d come home too late.

 

When they’d first met in a pub on the pier overlooking the Garrone, Belle had sealed his fate like a rose under glass. Belle found Aloise like so many others had before him, strung out at the bar. Downing absinthe, bumming cloves, and soaking up the sounds. Dressed in black and listless, caught in a string of bad boyfriends. They always brought Aloise home the next night, bruised and battered, half alive and calling for a fix.

 

Belle had gestured to the line of scars, too straight and even to be accidental, disappearing beneath the sleeve of Aloise’s shirt. His arms were decorated with a myriad bruising, track marks, and scabs. Words were spilling from Belle’s mouth, asking about the stories behind them. Aloise, voice was impossibly soft and trailing, had said, “they’re nothing. Just... cheap tattoos,” the one the barkeep called “The Beast” staring through Belle, rather than at him.

 

But now, Belle knew better. He wanted to do more than count syringes like seconds, so Belle stopped the string of bad boyfriends. He didn’t bring Aloise home the next night, bruised and broken, looking for a fix. Belle watched as the track marks and bruises faded, as the scabs and razor wounds healed and broke and healed again. He held back raven locks as Aloise knelt over the side of the tub and wretched, early in withdrawal. Laid a wet cloth over Aloise’s forehead when he was shuddering and shaking, lost in fever.

 

They opened up a place selling coffee on the pier overlooking the Garrone, where sometimes the sky would cry over the city. Aloise never kicked cloves, and Belle sometimes felt alone. They weren’t destined for a rose’s life under glass, they just listened to the river and the rain, catching each other’s pulse beneath their fingertips, and kept breathing.


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