Belle sat in her room. She had long ago ceased to go down for supper with her husband. She ate in her room with only herself and the silence that enveloped her. It’s not that he wasn’t a kind man, not really. He had always been gentle with her always, careful, but he just wasn’t the man that she had fallen in love with. No, she had fallen in love with the Beast, not the pompous prince that he was now.
She sighed and raked her fingers through her long brown hair. Her plate of food lay on the table to her right. It hadn’t been touched, not since she started dwelling on these thoughts. It had made her lose her appetite. She couldn’t keep herself from wishing that she could just have the old him back. The him that she actually loved. The him that she had first met. The him that she knew had loved her too.
She choked back a bitter laugh and climbed to her feet smoothing out her pale pink gown with her hands. It was about time she went downstairs to confront her husband. By now he must have been angry that she hadn’t shown up again. And there was no point in prolonging the inevitable.
She opened her bedroom door and stepped out into the spacious hall. The hall that made her sick to her stomach. She hated this place more than anything else. It was too ornate. Too embellished. She wasn’t use to such beautifully decorated rooms. Even during the time she had been here while her husband was the Beast, things had somehow looked different. Felt different.
This place had once seemed like a dwelling of refuge. Her sanctuary even, but now it only resulted in making her feel nauseous. She walked down the hall toward the staircase, her feet moving one in front of the other as if by their own accord. As if she was incapable of stopping them.
When she reached the bottom, Belle carefully made her a way to the dining room. She placed her hand tentatively on the doorknob. She took a deep shaky breath then let it out in a shuddering gasp. She pushed the heavy wooden door open and slipped inside.
Her husband looked up from where he sat at the end of the table. It was obvious that he had been waiting there a while. For her, no doubt. His eyes were narrowed, his lips firm, and his forehead creased in concentration. Belle closed the door silently behind her.
“Hello, Belle,” Her husband said quietly.
She shuddered at the words though there was nothing strange about them. Only a husband speaking to his wife, but…it scared her right now, more than ever before.
“You missed supper again.” He kept his voice expressionless, like always.
“Yes.” Belle, said, her voice a monotone like his. “I wasn’t feeling well. I was resting, but knew that I must inform you as to why I missed the meal.”
The lie jumped to her lips easily. She almost let out a sardonic laugh at how her once peacefully honest life had turned into this…her lying to her husband about everything.
“Yes,” Her husband said. “But will you have dessert with me?”
She didn’t miss the glint of maliciousness that flashed through his dark eyes. The eyes that she had once loved to gaze into. The eyes that now sent chills screaming down her spin.
“Nay, I’m still quite unwell—.”
“Belle,” he cut in. “Sit down.”
She obeyed him because she had little choice. Her hands trembled in their place on her lap and she futilely tried to still them. Some servants entered just seconds later carrying trays of food: cake, cookies, pudding, everything. It was obvious that he had already had this planned.
She loathed him for it. For trying to control her life the way he did. Who was he to say that she couldn’t eat in her room? Who was he to direct her every act? Who was he to tell her when to take a step, when to smile, when to breathe?
Belle swallowed the lump in her throat but never looked away from her husband. She wouldn’t let him have the satisfaction of unnerving her in that sense. He sat across from her unmoving. His chin rested on his hands and his gaze remained riveted on her. Finally after what felt like hours she turned away from him. Away from his soul searing eyes.
She picked up a fork, just to let her hands do something other than shake uncontrollably on her lap. Even if she had felt hungry at all before, it had vanished in her staring contest with her husband.
The one word made her flinch and the fork slipped out of her fingers, falling onto the floor with a clatter. She stared at it for a while before bending over to pick it up. Her husband’s eyes had never once left her. She put the fork on the table.
“I said, eat.”
She trembled again, then clamped her jaw shut tight. She wouldn’t let him see the fear in her. She had to be brave. Had to outsmart him. She picked the fork up and took a bite of the chocolate cake in front of her. The sweet sugary taste filled her mouth and for one brief moment she forgot about the man sitting across from her. But only one moment.
She swallowed, nearly coughing it back up, as bile rose in her throat. She forced it back down.
Not in front of him. She pleaded desperately. Not in front of him.
Thankfully enough, she kept the food down and even ate a few more forkfuls, but that was as far as she got. She set the utensil down, fighting the urge to gag and throw up.
“Are you happy?” She asked acidly.
He gave her a gentle smile then leaned back in his chair. His first sign of movement other than his lips when he spoke to her. “No, my dear.” His voice was just as empty.
Belle just stared at him, hate finally burning a hole away in her heart. “Then, pray tell me, what must I do to appease your needs?”
He rose to his feet and walked over to her. He placed his hand against her cheek, and she flinched away, her eyes going wide in fear, although the act had been nothing more than a gentle caress. This didn’t phase him though. He continued watching her, with his strangely piercing eyes. But now she didn’t turn away. She glared defiantly back at him, rising to her feet.
“I’m going to bed,” she said, her voice calm once again.
“Yes.” her husband murmured. “That may be wise. I don’t wish to look at you any longer.”
Her cheeks turned red with fury and she opened her mouth to say something profane to him, but words failed her. He smiled at her again, then turned away. Her hands turned into lethal fists by her side and her whole body quaked with the hate that had been set aflame within her.
She spun around and marched out of the room, afraid that if she stayed a moment longer she might do something that she would long regret for the rest of her life. Not that it may be very long considering her husband was driving her towards the brink of insanity.
When she finally reached her bedchamber she closed the door behind her and locked it, tears springing to her eyes. She couldn’t stand it anymore. She couldn’t stand him anymore. Was he trying to kill her with his hateful words? Did he really want her gone? Belle couldn’t stand to think about it.
She collapsed onto her bed, her body wracking with silent sobs. She didn’t want her husband to hear her crying. She didn’t want him to ever know that he had gotten to her. She pulled her blankets up around her and buried her face in the pillow.
It was ironic really. Most girls would kill to be able to be as rich as she was, but all she wanted was to go back to her old life. She hated this place. This stupid castle. She had nowhere to go without her husband watching her. She couldn’t even breathe without him reprimanding her.
“It’s a prison.” She whispered to no one but herself. “And I’ve fallen into it. This is a glass house. I can see freedom, but I can’t reach it.” Her words, though, were muffled by her pillow.
She stayed there for hours, crying and crying, until she felt as if she had no tears left to cry. Her soul had been dried up, and now she knew that her body would shrivel up and she would die. But no. If she gave into death, that would mean her husband had won, and she would never let that happen.
Belle sat up, her face unusually dry and empty of all emotion for someone who had just cried her heart out. She climbed onto her feet and walked over to her mirror, picking up a brush off the dressing table. She pulled it through her snarled hair. There was one thing that she could do.
She slipped quietly over to her wardrobe and opened it up, rifling through her hundreds of choices of dresses to where. She settled for a plain white gown. It was simple, but appropriate for what she was going to do. She slipped it on and stared at herself in the mirror, but instead of seeing her reflection there, she saw her husband.
She whirled around to confront him, but he wasn’t there. She gave a derisive laugh then faced the mirror again. Her reflection was there this time, though it was distorted, a mockery of who she was, but maybe a vision of what she would become.
She pulled her hair up into a bun, fastening the dark locks in place with bobby pins. Her lips lifted into a pathetic attempt at a smile. It was more of a grimace. A scowl. Or a smirk.
She shuddered then turned away from the mirror. She walked quietly out of the room and back downstairs again. Her husband’s room was on the first floor and at one point they had shared it, but only for a couple of days, then she had moved away from there. She walked silently towards his bedroom and pushed the door open.
He was lying in his bed. Asleep, thankfully. She slipped inside and closed the door behind her. She walked over until she was standing by her sleeping husbands side. She stretched out her arms, towards his unconscious body then stopped. She couldn’t do this, but it was the only way. The only way that she wouldn’t go utterly insane.
She let her hand touch his neck. He stirred but didn’t awaken. Belle’s fingers curled around his throat tightly, and his eyes sprang open. He didn’t move. Of course, he could have easily broken her grip, but he didn’t. Just stared at her out of his large brown eyes, hurt shimmering there. Not physical pain, no. He would never let her see that. It was deeper. It was emotional.
She tightened her grip until she knew that he couldn’t breathe, yet he still didn’t make a single move to stop her. But why? Why didn’t he yank away and ferociously grab her by the arm until she screamed in pain. It’s what she deserved, and even she knew that.
But he just stared up at her, shock, pain, confusion, distorting his handsome features. If things had been different she was sure that she could have loved him, but he drove her to do this. He pushed her over and over again. She hated him for it.
He finally raised his hand up and Belle readied herself for him to hit her, but he didn’t just gently touched her hands around his throat, still staring at her with misted eyes.
Then when Belle was sure that he had no more strength left to live he uttered one small simple word that made tears jump to her eyes.
Her fingers relaxed and she backed away from the bed. “I’m sorry,” she ground out. “But I won’t stand living with you any more. And neither will my child.”
His eyes widened and he struggled to sit up, but she ran out of the room, out of the house, out into the bitter darkness, her unborn baby having no choice but to be brought with her. No choice but to grow up without the knowledge of who his father was.
- Title: Bitter Life
- Artist: mythological irony
- Description: This story doesn't have anyone dying in it. Yay! But again this is a short story that I wrote for a contest. Anyway, it had to be about what happened after some fairytale, but it had to be a bad ending. I actually one this one, so that counts for something, right? Maybe? Hopefully.
- Date: 03/03/2009
- Tags: bitter life beauty beast fairytale