There was no rose to map the blooming of Beauty’s love, nor its wither, its winding, its slow end. The delicate petals in their scarlet blush spoke only of the Beast’s heart.
The girl Beauty was an innocent, a charmed faerie who captured hearts like floating autumn leaves. She came to her Beast full of wonder and joy, and he laid down his heart, a libation at her feet.
But adoration in isolation rots, like a budding shoot drowning, starved of air and light. And so the woman Beauty found herself treading water, gasping for breath.
“Sometimes I feel,” said Beauty to her husband, “that my father’s need is suffocating. His helplessness makes me hateful, I am frightened of my rage.”
“This cannot be true, my love, for I know your kindness well. I see you serve others for love alone, and your selflessness makes you perfect.”
Beauty felt the first curling of a dry browning petal, the puncture of a thorn in her chest.
In the darkness one night, “Touch me here,” whispered Beauty, “like this, like this, like this, like this….”
But the Beast cried his pleasure and collapsed, exhausted. “So beautiful,” he murmured, “my Beauty.”
And so the rose in the castle grew stronger each year, while the rose in her heart turned brittle and bleak.
“I want to take a knife and carve the shape of a rose into my flesh. I want to feel my blood seep over my skin, feel its warmth and know there is feeling still in me. I wish to be ugly, I wish to know it was me, I made myself so.”
“You will never be ugly, my love,” crooned the Beast, “and I will protect you from knives and swords. Fear no danger, my darling, think not these thoughts, let no stain corrupt your Beauty.”
She would have wept if she could have wept, but her heart was frozen to ice. In the darkest day of winter, Beauty walked away into the snow.