Read Beastly Online

Authors: Alex Flinn

Tags: #Adolescence, #Love & Romance, #Personal, #Beauty, #Beauty & Grooming, #Health & Fitness, #Juvenile Fiction, #General, #United States, #Social Issues, #Adaptations, #People & Places, #Fantasy & Magic, #Fiction, #Fairy Tales & Folklore

Beastly

Beastly

By

Alex Flinn

To my daughter Katherine, who is finally old enough to read one of my books!

Index

CHAT

PART 1 - A PRINCE AND A WITCH

CHAT

PART 2 - THE BEAST

CHAT

PART 3 - THE CASTLE

CHAT

PART 4 - THE INTRUDER IN THE GARDEN

CHAT

PART 5 - TIME LAPSES, AUTUMN AND WINTER

CHAT

PART 6 - HAPPILY EVER AFTER

EPILOGUE

Acknowledgments

Trying something new is hard. I’d like to thank the following people for their help, and also for reassuring me that it wasn’t just a crazy idea: Joyce Sweeney (and various members of her Friday group), Marjetta Geerling, George Nicholson, Phoebe Yeh, Catherine Onder, Savina Kim, and Antonia Markiet.

Special thanks to my daughter Meredith for listening to numerous versions of Beauty and the Beast, often without pictures.

Author’s Note

There are many animal bridegroom tales from different countries and cultures. In them, “the Beast” is presented, variously, as a snake, a lizard, a lion, a monkey, a pig, or a creature with body parts of various animals, such as a winged snake. He has angered a witch or fairy and been cursed in this way until he finds true love, or a wife. In most versions “Beauty” comes to live with, or marries, the Beast because her father has stolen an item (usually a flower). The Beast is kind to Beauty and she realizes she loves him more than she initially believed. Her realization of this causes the curse to be broken. In one version, the courtship of Beauty and the Beast is through letters, and presumably, the Beast is an impressive writer. But typically, he is a simple man/beast. In several versions, including one by the Brothers Grimm, the Beast is human by night but an animal by day, and in this way, the tale is similar to the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche, where Psyche marries handsome Cupid, but since he only comes to her after dark, her sisters persuade her that he is a monster. Cupid and Psyche is perhaps the earliest variant on this tale.

In Cupid and Psyche, Psyche, when she leaves Cupid, must go on a quest to get him back. This occurs in several other stories, and I have incorporated it into my story.

The version most familiar to American audiences was written in eighteenth-century France by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont (though sometimes credited to Charles Perrault of Cinderella fame), adapted from an earlier novel by Gabrielle Susan Barbot de Gallan de Villeneuve. In this version, a traveler stumbles into the garden of a Beast, steals a rose for his youngest daughter, a beautiful but bookish girl, and is going to be killed until he promises to return. The daughter returns in his stead to become the Beast’s prisoner. In the Beaumont and Villeneuve versions, unlike most others, the fairy who placed the curse takes a somewhat active role in the courtship of Beauty and Beast, appearing to Beauty in a dream and reassuring her, then returning after the curse is broken, to congratulate them on their prosperous love. It is from this I conceived Kendra’s continued involvement in the plot of the book, though in this case, her involvement is with the Beast himself.

As a writer, I write about what disturbs me, and what disturbed me about many versions of Beauty and the Beast was that beloved as Beauty is said to be, in each case, her father gives her over willingly to the Beast, in order to save his own life (the Disney movie version is a gentler version of the tale, in which Belle’s father has no choice in the matter). Thinking of this led me to think about the Beast himself, how he was alone in the castle, possibly abandoned by his own family, the circumstances of which are unexplained in most versions. So the romance is really the story of two abandoned teens who find each other. As a young adult writer, I hear often of the negative portrayals of parents in my genre, but I am convinced that YA has nothing on fairy tales for evil parents (see, e. g. , Hansel and Gretel, Snow White).

This was how I conceived my story – unsugarcoated, though still with a happily ever after.

Readers interested in other Beauty and the Beast stories may wish to check out Beauties and Beasts by Betsy Hearne, which contains stories from different countries, and The Dragon Prince: A Chinese Beauty & the Beast Tale by Laurence Yep. Young adult versions include Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty & the Beast by Robin McKinley, Beast by Donna Jo Napoli, and The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold by Francesca Lia Block, which contains various fairytale retellings, including a short Beast tale. The Rumpelstiltskin Problem is a book by Vivian Vande Velde, conceived because the author was disturbed, as I was, by inconsistencies in a traditional tale.

Readers are probably familiar with the Disney movie version of Beauty and the Beast. But they may wish to watch the movie version of the tale, La Belle et la bete, directed by Jean Cocteau (in French, with English subtitles). It is, admittedly, this version of the Beast I visualized when creating Adrian.

CHAT

Mr. Anderson:
Welcome to the first meeting of the Unexpected Changes chat group.

Mr. Anderson:
Anyone here? Or should I say, anyone going to admit being here?

BeastNYC joined the chat.

Mr. Anderson:
Hello, BeastNYC.

Mr. Anderson:
Hello? I see you there, BeastNYC. Want to introduce yourself?

BeastNYC:
Don’t want to talk 1st… anyone else here?

Mr. Anderson:
Yes, we seem to have a lot of lurkers who joined the chat before you.

BeastNYC:
Let them talk 1st then.

Mr. Anderson:
Anyone else want to give a shout-out to BeastNYC?

SilentMaid:
Hello, BeastNYC. Should we call you Beast?

BeastNYC:
Whatever. Doesn’t matter.

Mr. Anderson:
Thanks for speaking up, Silent – pardon the pun. What sort of creature are you?

SilentMaid:
A mermaid. Just a little one.

Mr. Anderson:
You were transformed into a mermaid?

SilentMaid:
Actually, I’m currently a mermaid, but I’m *considering* a transformation. I thought this group might help me make my decision.

Mr. Anderson:
That’s what we’re going to talk about tonight – the experience of transformation, how you became what you are.

Froggie:
wer u trnsfrmd, Andy?

Mr. Anderson:
Well, no. But I’ve set this up to help you all.

BeastNYC:
You’re a girl, SilentMaid? I mean, a female, er, fish. A mer*maid*

Froggie:
Hw cn u hlp us wen u dnt know wat is like

SilentMaid:
Beast, yes, I am. I’m thinking of becoming a human girl.

Mr. Anderson:
Froggie, I’ve studied your type of case. Extensively. I’ve written a thesis on The Effects of Transformation on True Love, based upon the works of Grimm, LePrince de Beaumont, Aksakov, Quiller-Couch, and Walt Disney…

BeastNYC:
Location, Silent?

SilentMaid:
I’m sure you’re very qualified, Andy. It was nice of you to set this up :)
Mr. Anderson:
Thanks, Silent.

SilentMaid:
Beast, I’m in Denmark. Actually, the Atlantic Ocean, near Denmark.

BeastNYC:
Denmark?

Froggie:
Frgve me asking bt is hard typin w webbed fet.

SilentMaid:
Denmark. It’s in Europe.

Froggie:
I mean FEET.

Mr. Anderson:
Understood, Froggie. I think it will be good for you guys – and girl too – to get together and chat.

Grizzlyguy joined the chat.

Grizzlyguy:
I want to talk about these 2 girls I saw.

BeastNYC:
I know where Denmark is. Since the curse, I’ve had lots of time to study, cuz I have no life.

Mr. Anderson:
Good observation, BeastNYC. We’ll also discuss the lifestyle changes brought about by transformation.

BeastNYC:
Cold there, Silent!

SilentMaid:
Yes, it is. But it’s warm under the water.

Grizzlyguy:
I want to talk about these 2 girls!

BeastNYC:
U single, Silent?

Grizzlyguy:
These 2 girls – 1 is RoseRed & she’s really hotttt!!!

SilentMaid:
Sort of single, Beast. I think I know where this is going…

Froggie:
hardest prt 4 me is eatin flys

Grizzlyguy:
The other one is Snow White

SilentMaid:
I’m single, but there’s this one particular guy… a sailor
Grizzlyguy:
Not *that* Snow White. A different one – RoseRed’s sis. Quiet. She’s nice 2.

Froggie:
dont Ik flys

BeastNYC:
Thing is, Silent, I’m looking to meet a girl, a girl who could love me.

SilentMaid:
Flattering, Beast, but I’m in love w/another. There was a boy on a sailboat. I saved him from drowning.

Mr. Anderson:
Can we not *all* talk at once?

BeastNYC:
But we don’t have anyone 2 talk 2 usually.

Froggie:
Lnly being a frg when ur not rlly 1.

Mr. Anderson:
Understood. Still, we need to take turns so the threads aren’t too confusing. This is the first session, so I thought we’d discuss how we got the way we are – how we were transformed.

Froggie:
Thts ez – pissed off a witch.

BeastNYC:
Ditto.

SilentMaid:
Considering a deal with a witch, here. Sea Witch, actually. My voice for human legs.

That’s why I’m Silent.

BeastNYC:
U type great, Silent.

SilentMaid:
Thanks, Beast. I have fingers, not claws.

Grizzlyguy:
La-ti-da.

Mr. Anderson:
Beast, why don’t you tell us about your transformation?

BeastNYC:
I don’t feel like it.

Mr. Anderson:
You’re among friends, Beast.

Grizzlyguy:
Yeah, go ahead so I can talk about the 2 girls.

BeastNYC:
You know *2* girls, Prince??? Where are *you* located???

Mr. Anderson:
This isn’t a dating service, Beast.

BeastNYC:
Yeah, well I could use one. It’s hard meeting girls when you look like Chewbacca!

And I need to meet 1 to end my curse.

Mr. Anderson:
You need a support network too. That’s why I set this up.

SilentMaid:
Please, talk to us, Beast. You’re among friends.

BeastNYC:
All right, all right. The first thing you need to know about me is, I’m a beast.

Froggie:
henc the SN.

Mr. Anderson:
No flames, Froggie.

BeastNYC:
Yeah, right. But there was a time when I would have said about a fat girl, “She’s a beast.” I’m not a beast like that. I’m an animal. Fur, claws, you name it. Everything about me is an animal, except the inside. On the inside, I’m human still.

Grizzlyguy:
Ditto here.

BeastNYC:
It’s really hard for me because before I was a beast, I was… well, beautiful. Cool, popular, rich. Like, my friends at school, they’d elected me their prince.

Grizzlyguy:
Elected? Prince?

Froggie:
princ not elcted Bst… i ws a princ once

BeastNYC:
It’s a long story.

Froggie:
i ws a princ

Mr. Anderson:
We have nothing but time, Beast. Talk to us.

BeastNYC:
OK. It all started because of a witch.

Froggie:
thts hw they all strt

PART 1 - A PRINCE AND A WITCH

1

I could feel everyone looking at me, but I was used to it. One thing my dad taught me early and often was to act like nothing moved me. When you’re special, like we were, people were bound to notice.

It was the last month before the end of ninth grade. The substitute teacher was giving out ballots for spring dance court, something I’d normally have thought was lame.

“Hey, Kyle, your name’s on this.” My friend Trey Parker flicked my arm.

“No duh.” When I turned Trey’s way, the girl next to him – Anna, or maybe Hannah – looked down. Huh. She’d been staring at me.

I examined the ballot. Not only was my name, Kyle Kingsbury, there for ninth-grade prince, but I was the sure winner. No one could compete with my looks and my dad’s cash.

The sub was a new one who might still have been under the mistaken impression that because Tuttle was the type of school that had a salad bar in the cafeteria and offered courses in Mandarin Chinese

– i. e. , a school where the serious money people in New York sent their kids – we weren’t going to bust on him like public school dregs. Big mistake. It wasn’t like anything the sub said was going to be on an exam, so we were trying to figure out how to make reading the ballot and scratching in our choices take the entire fifty-minute period. At least most of us were. The rest were texting each other. I watched the ones who were filling out their ballots glancing over at me. I smiled. Someone else might have looked down, trying to act all shy and modest, like they were ashamed of having their name there – but it doesn’t make sense to deny the obvious.

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