Week 9 & 10
The world is a wild place. I've been extremely busy finishing up my last semester of undergrad, so as you can tell, my Dear Reader, I've moved to a more manageable schedule of posting once every other week. Not my original plan, but sometimes we need to make adjustments to keep ourselves from drowning under the wave of bullshit the world throws at us.
I've been writing. A lot, actually, but not entirely the things I want to write. I was paralyzed for a moment, stuck between all of the things I had to do. Between all of my classes and finishing up the final logistics of WriteHive, I've had two academic papers, a sitcom teleplay, an hour-long drama, a ten-page short story, a small forest's worth of reading,and enough emails and spreadsheets to make you see grids on a blank wall. This, as you can probably tell, left very little room for anything else.
I haven't even been able to keep up with the 100 Day Writing Challenge. I've fallen behind about nine days. Which is... unfortunate... to say the least. BUT, there have only been two days in these last two weeks in which I wrote zero words. Small victories, but victories none the less. Writing everyday is a challenge all by itself. Finding the mental courage to silence the voices in my head when it would be all too easy to just walk away and never look at it again, is a challenge. There are people with more significant, more life-threatening challenges, obviously. But struggles are not a competition. Struggles are not something to be worn like badges of honor, comparing the weight upon your shoulders to others, and looking down on them when you don't find your own struggles heavy enough.
In the last two weeks, I will admit, I wrote something I am incredibly proud of. That short story was one of the best pieces of writing I've come up with in a little while. It was a re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast, from The Beast's perspective, written in the style of YOU. It was horrifying to write, I'll admit. It made me go places in my psyche that made me feel horrendously uncomfortable. But I did it, and in my opinion, it's fucking great. So I'm proud of that.
Here's a little excerpt:
EXCERPT FROM: OUR HAPPY EVER AFTER
I waited for three days.
The halls of my labyrinth echoed with sobs of horror at my pride. If he had returned alone, I would’ve sent him back. Upon sober reflection, I realized I could not kill a man in cold blood, no matter the disrespect he had shown me. I’m not a monster; you know this.
On the third day, the gentle gallop of horse hooves sounded down the path, and out of sheer instinct, I hid. From the window, I peered to see if your father was alone. But fortune smiled upon me that day, for riding beside him was you. You shone like the midday sun, your essence beaming through the dark forest that surrounds my prison.
My heart pounded in my chest. I reached a hand to my face, to find that I was smiling. In my stomach, there was an unfamiliar sensation. Not quite fear, not quite joy, but something in between; something I’d never felt before.
Once again, I commanded all the windows to be lit and the table to be set. This time — for the first time (the first of many times) — the table was set for two. I wanted to allow you one final meal with your father. It was the least I could offer.
Now I know you might argue that I could have sent you home with him. But I am nothing if not loyal to my word.
Retreating to the safety of the shadows, I watched as you and your father entered my parlor. The room was warmer with you in it, every color brighter. The fire of the hearth was nothing compared to the flame which you had ignited in my soul.
Your father ate nothing. Tears rolled down his face though he tried to wipe them away before you noticed. I understand his pain. Leaving you must have been the most difficult thing he’d ever done.
I’m glad you enjoyed the meal I offered. Watching you eat is to experience a work of art. You’re so composed. So civil. Every cut planned with perfect precision, each bite the perfect size. The way you dab your perfect mouth with a napkin, careful not to stain your divine features (though I admit, I do not think that to be possible).
Without realizing, I moaned with pleasure while you ate. You must have heard me, for you and your father embraced, gripping each other in fear. I emerged from the shadows. You trembled before me. I do not blame you for this; I am a monstrosity to gaze upon.
I asked if you’d come of your own free will. It was wonderful to hear that, in fact, you had. If you’d told me he’d forced you to come I’d have sent you away and beat the old man. A man cannot force a woman to do something she does not wish to do; it isn’t right.
Deeply bowing, I granted you and your father one last night together. It was clear the love he had for you, and you for him. I wished to observe it for a while more, at least to know what true love looked like.
Retreating back into the labyrinth, I watched you from behind the wall on the far side of the room. You spoke of happy things, of books and of music. The way your face alights when you speak of such beautiful things is like nothing I’d ever seen. He just listened, staring into your eyes. When you ran out of things to say, the silence settled for but a moment. Your father begged you to go, but you refused. You are nothing if not loyal to your word.
You both retired for the night in my room. You shared a bed with your father, holding each other. I envied him in that moment, hoping one day I might feel the warm embrace of your love.
In the morning, he left, drowning in an ocean of tears. You watched him disappear into the trees, and only once the sound of his horse had been gone for some time, did you allow yourself to cry.
I admire you for that, for your strength.
It's weird. It's uncomfortable. It's an insight into the mind of someone who will do anything to get the thing he loves (because the Beast definitely doesn't view Beauty as a person. To him, she is an object to be won. We could go into the horrifying trenches of toxic masculinity and the deep roots of misogyny in Fairy Tales, but we really don't have the time.)
I'm moving forward, one step at a time. I keep working at it, and hoping the plague doesn't kill us all before my hard work comes to fruition. I don't think it will, but I'm just waiting on that email telling me my school is closed. But until then, I have an MTA bus to catch. Wish me luck.
Bi-Weekly Total 2/25-3/10: 12,913