I’m bristling with nervousness and excitement to bring you today’s blog post! I may have mentioned it a few times but before I came to the book blogging community, I used to write a lot of poetry. Long story short, I don’t write poetry any more, and it has also been quite sometime since I’ve written a story. But this week’s Top Five Wednesday prompt for Ideal Mashups had me day-dreaming and scheming! I hope you enjoy the two little stories I put together. I actually have a few more but narrowed them down to two ideal mash-ups because I wasn’t sure if you would like them.
If you do, let me know and I’ll make it happen!
WHAT MAKES A BEAST?
A Beauty and the Beast Retelling
The man was fascinated, which says much about a man who has traveled the entire world 80 times. Eighty one if he was to count his latest trip. The Stranger, as he named himself, listened to haughty whispers of an insane woman, who walked with books on her head, and whispered incantations into teacups; they say she runs into the woods to twist the heads of rabbits, rip the fur from wolves, and fornicate with the devil. They say, they say, this pretty little belle will soon turn on their children, so could The Stranger please kill the beast?
The Stranger sits among the branches watching the blue witch and her devil. The first time he hears the devil speak, The Stranger feels a crack. Even with the blood of a freshly caught deer dripping from his muzzle, there was elegance; the devil walks with a grace that make flowers blush.
The Devil does not say a word about the boy who plays raven in his apple trees. The Devil is happy; he has beauty, peace, and winter. It is before the first snowfall when she tells him of the ocean and a ship captained by women.
“When will you come back?”
“When I am done.” She takes the mirror and he takes her loneliness.
The Stranger had never a devil cry. He had imagined brimstone and floods, or black blood, not the shattering howl that left him scratching at the hollow where his soul used to be. Night after night, he listens to the Devil scratch ink on paper, watches every morning as a single dove flies away but none fly back. He has counted. He has waited too.
Send me, send me.
But what he wants to say is, Will you let me stay? I do not fear you. I do not fear you in the least.
It is mid-winter when The Stranger arrives at The Devil’s doorstep with nothing but a frame strapped to his back. The Devil practices the manners Belle taught him; he does not slurp, does not burp, or fall into a scratching fit in front of this stranger. They talk about their enchantments with none of the formality; curses, they say. But neither feels it a burden.
Cherry red lips pull back into a sardonic smile, “The people call me Gaston.” The Stranger reveals one night after a fight.
Still, it takes The Devil another year to ask for his real name.
The Stranger’s eyebrows crease as though her had forgotten who he once was. “I was once called a gift.”
The Devil never asked about the painting in the attic or why the boy disappears there when nights are coldest.
“I was once beautiful.” He pinches his lips. “I was once…someone.”
The Devil could not fathom the despair in a voice so young and he doesn’t try to. He cups the boy’s hands in his heavy paws and says, “Beautiful, you are not. But a gift…”
Perhaps this was the moment when The Devil felt the last petal drop, or the moment when he knew Belle wouldn’t write back; perhaps it was the moment when what was human finally woke.
In The Stranger and The Devil both.
“You are a gift, my…my…Dorian.”
Laughter, gracious and not unkind, spills from the boy. It is spring in a castle of curses. “And who are you?”
KISS THE BOY
The Little Mermaid and Little Women Retelling
“If I tell you tales of the sea, will you tell me of your human land?”
“I can do better.” Jo March leans closer to the water, a strand of dark hair falling into her eyes. “I will bring you treasures.”
The red-haired gasps sending bubbles into the open. “Oh my!” she slaps a hand to her mouth, giggling furtively until the air around them is dancing with iridescence. Ariel pulls herself onto the rock, slapping her tail against the water to rid the seaweed.
Turning to her friend, she fingers the bow-tie at Jo’s neck, careful not to leave a trace of slime on the boy’s new coat. “My darling Jo, you can bring all the treasures you find, but nothing will compare to your company.”
Ariel wonders if this is what the humans call love; the feeling like ocean waves in her chest. Jo had told her about sweaty palms and weak knees, but Ariel didn’t have knees and her tail felt strong as ever. Looking up, she was alarmed to find the Jo turning pink in the cheeks. Humans, she knew, were not capable of such magic.
“What is wrong?”
“I-I…you’re just…” Jo stammers, sways, and falls into the water. Ariel rolls her eyes at her friends silliness. Humans were weird. How is it that humans could be gifted this…swimming…but merfolk were not given the chance to walk on land?
Joseph emerges from the water – his fine new clothes completely soaked, a crab scuttling over his head.
“Joseph March.” Ariel groaned knowing the cost of his gentleman’s attire. As silly as she thought it had looked, she loved how it made Jo happy. She sinks into the water next to him, channeling her father’s disapproving stare. “Five months’…uh, wages…gone to the ocean!” Ariel flips her hair back, suddenly aware of the anger biting at her shoulders.
She cared about this boy – whom she had first met as Josephine. Josephine who hated her body, Josephine who hated dresses and the way her family tried to pawn her off to a man. Josephine, whose mother worried about her daughter’s penchant for trousers and top hats. Ariel had stumbled upon the small wisp of a girl crying on the shoreline. The mermaid had tried to pull the young human into the sea, afraid that she was melting.
“Ariel…” Joseph’s voice called to her, drawing her close until feet and tail were touching. “I…don’t know what I’d do without you.”
“No,” she touched his face. “But I know what we can do now.” Wrapping her arms around his waist, Ariel leaned in and kissed the boy.
Joseph tasted of salt and ink, of coffee and mornings. So this is what it’s like, Ariel thought, to be kissed. Jo’s dewdrop touch on her skin, his quiet chuckle, his reckless, his daring, his love – she could have this, oh, how she could. All she had to was sing and the boy would follow her down to the depths, down into the darkness of forever.
“Jo,” she whispers. “what is love?”
“I don’t know.” When Jo presses her to his chest, Ariel feels the bite of the golden shell between her breasts. “But if you’d let me, I’d like to find out.”
She touches Jo’s cheeks, catches his grey eyes run from the enchantment touching her chest. “Will you write a story about me?”
“I can do better. I’ll write one about us.” Jo promises, and Ariel snaps the spell away from her neck. Crushing the gold between her fingers, she swallows the sea witch’s blessing.
Finally, the sun sets.
Finally, with the loss of her voice, Ariel seals her love with a kiss.
🌸 Well, what did you think? Hated it or loved it?
🌸 Is this a segment you’d like to read regularly?
🌸 Do you think our characters will find their happily ever afters?
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