The Beast in the Mirror,
The Beast in the Mirror
Copyright 2011 Lauralynn Elliott
Cover Art by Anya Kelleye
Please feel free to share this story with anyone you wish. This free work of short fiction is my gift to you.
This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.
From the shadows he watched her. She was exquisite…perfect. He knew he would only be able to watch her from afar. She was beautiful and he was a beast. So he would watch her, admire her, but he would never speak to her or even let himself be seen by her. Her delicate senses didn’t deserve to look upon such ugliness as his.
He watched as she got out her canvas and placed it on the easel she had set up. She mixed her paint, a little furrow between her brows as she concentrated on the colors she wanted to use. Why she had chosen these ruins…his ruins…as the place to paint, he would never know. Did she see beauty in these old stones? Could she possibly see any beauty in him? But, no, that was wishful thinking.
The beast had never let another human lay eyes on him since the witch had cursed him, three years ago. The witch had been beautiful and had enticed him to want her. But he had soon seen the evil that lay deep in her heart and had rejected her. In a fit of rage, she had cursed him to be ugly forever. In an act of cruelty, she had left him a beautiful ornate mirror so he could always be reminded of his ugliness. He had once been a happy go lucky playboy. Now he was this.
He looked at his hands. They were just as handsome as they had always been. His body was fit and lean, as appealing as it had always been. But when he viewed his face in the mirror, he saw where the true ugliness lay. The large ridged forehead, the pig-like snout, the large teeth with oversized canines, the sparse hair on his head. Where there had once been a handsome, almost perfect face, there was now the visage of true revulsion. As much as he longed to speak with the beautiful creature before him, he would never subject her to the horror of his face. The beast would just content himself with admiring her and making up fantasies in his mind.
Rose frowned at the canvas as she tried to figure out why it wasn’t quite right. Something was missing. Then she smiled; the sky needed more red. It was close to sunset and the colors of the sky were beautiful this time of day. It was a perfect backdrop to the ruins. She had found this place a few days after her family had moved to this tiny town in England, and she had been delighted. For some reason, these ruins seemed to speak to her. She painted them over and over at different angles and at different times of the day. She hadn’t quite gotten the nerve to explore too deeply inside, but she vowed that someday she would. The shadows seemed almost alive in there and she shivered as a little thrill of fear shot through her. But it was curious fear and she would definitely do some exploring soon.
She looked at the finished painting and breathed a contented sigh. These paintings might be good enough to be included in the local gallery that she had seen in town. She had sold quite a few paintings when she lived in Atlanta, GA in the U.S. But she felt like these were even better. There was just something special about these ruins, and she had done her best work here.
Rose gathered up painting supplies and the new painting and started back to her cottage. It was a delightful little place with three bedrooms, a living room, a dining/kitchen area, and two baths. It was just right for her and her father and mother. And the grounds were beautiful, with a profusion of flowers and other plants. She didn’t regret moving here, even though she missed her friends. But, for some reason, she was contented to just come out here and paint. She was enjoying being alone for a change.
The Beast paced back and forth in the shadows of the ruins. There was something about this girl, this delicate angel, that touched his heart. His heart that he had thought to be so tainted with bitterness he would never feel affection again. But he could feel the ice melting as he thought about her.
He took his mirror and peered into it. He studied every abominable feature of his monstrous face. How could a gentle creature such as she ever love or feel affection for one such as himself? He sighed…he didn’t even know her name. He longed to speak with her, but could that actually be a possibility? Should he try? A plan formed in his mind.
Rose decided that she would explore the ruins more thoroughly today. Setting off without her art supplies this time, she wanted to just enjoy discovering what lay behind the crumbling stones.
With a merry heart, she hurried to the place she had come to think of as her own. The shadows of the ruins looked a little foreboding, but she wasn’t afraid of spiders or lizards, and she was sure there was nothing else to be afraid of here. She approached the entrance with a little thrill coursing through her, almost as if she was trespassing or doing something forbidden. She peeked into the darkness, but wasn’t really able to see anything. She could have kicked herself for not thinking of bringing a flashlight. That was okay, she would only explore the outermost area of the stone buildings today. That would give her something else to look forward to tomorrow.
She stepped into the first room of the structure cautiously. Even though she wasn’t afraid of creatures, she didn’t really want to be startled by one. As if on cue, a colorful little lizard scurried away. She could hear the running water of the little brook that ran behind the ruins. She hadn’t yet ventured there in her ramblings, but it was on her list. When she was almost to the point where the light gave out, she saw something. There, sitting on a large rock, was a wooden carving. As she approached it, she saw that it was a rose. She picked it up, looking in wonder at the intricate details of the petals and stem. Whoever had done this had real talent, but she was confused about who it could possibly be. And who was the rose for? She looked around, hoping for some kind of answer, but there was no one to be found. Rose hesitated, not knowing whether she should take the carving or not. It was almost as if someone had left it for her, and it somehow felt right to take it. Making up her mind, she held the rose to her chest, and ran out of the ruin. She hurried home, the beautiful little carving clutched tightly in her hand.
The Beast smiled, happy that she had accepted his gift. Of course, she had no idea who had left it for her, but he intended to change that soon. For the first time since the curse, he felt his life had purpose. He frowned. Even if he could get her to care for him, once she saw him, that would be the end. He looked in the mirror, then flung it against the stone wall. Of course, it didn’t shatter. It never broke. The witch had made sure that he could always see.
He decided to wash in the stream behind the ruins. He took off his clothes, looking down at his hard, muscled body. If only he could wear a hooded mask of some sort. The rest of him was appealing. He lowered himself in the cool water and used the soap that he had filched from the vendor at the town festival after everyone had left for the night. Actually, he hadn’t really stolen it…he had left more than enough money to cover the cost.
After he had finished bathing, he changed into new clothes. He had gradually moved most of his personal possessions from his estate to here. His attorney was taking care of all his affairs, and he was paid well enough not to ask questions. Yes, he even had a cell phone here with him, which seemed kind of ironic since he was living in these ruins and the victim of a curse that seemed like something out of a fairy tale.
He settled down for the night with his oil lamp by his side, and started working on another carving. His angel would be so pleased.
Rose remembered to bring a flashlight the next day. She crept into the entrance of the ruins and glanced toward the rock where the rose had been left for her the day before. To her surprise and delight, there was a wooden dragon lying on the rock. She picked it up and saw that every little det
She made her way deeper into the darkness, shining her flashlight around, admiring the beauty of the carved stone walls. There were so many images depicted here, and she wondered if this was the original art from the structure, or if her secret artist had done this. Deeper and deeper into the shadows she went, until she found a room that looked as if it had been inhabited recently. There was a clean smell, almost like a man’s cologne, and she saw some used candles lying around. She heard a scuffling sound coming from the next room.
“Hello?” she said, a little nervous. She thought she heard a throat clearing.
“Is someone there?” she asked.
“Hello,” she heard someone say. A deep male voice.
“Who’s there?” she asked.
“Only me. I hope I didn’t frighten you,” he said.
“Will you come out, please? It’s a little creepy talking to