The Beautiful Rose (working title)

Aoife drew her fur cloak tighter and advanced further into the garden, eyes transfixed by the thicket of roses buffeted by the harsh wind. As she gazed upon the soft full petals of the crimson flowers, she considered her father at home. How he must have felt when the Beast threatened his life for the act of stealing a single blossom. How she wished she had never asked for the flower when he left; if she had not she would be home with her family, embroidering by the fire with her sisters. Aoife reached for one of the blooms to smell the sweet scent: roses were such a weakness of hers. A sharp pain touched her fingers and blood welled from a thorn prick in her finger, mingling with the petals and falling in fat droplets to the dusty ground below. She cursed softly and sucked at the wound, the coppery taste on her tongue.

Later that night, Aoife at her supper in silence while the Beast watched from his chair at the opposite side. He had inquired about the bandage on her hand but she had brushed it aside as a simple accident. A considered look filled his eyes and an idea began to take shape.

When Aoife awoke the next morning, a steaming cup of tea and a plate of fruit were on her bedside, as she had grown accustomed to after staying here so long. However, unlike before a leather-bound book with an embossed pink and silver rose on the cover accompanied the breakfast meal. With trembling hands she took up the volume and cracked the spine, the thick smell of paper and ink winding towards her nose.

Upon a page marked with a pink ribbon were the words:

’Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself though, not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O! be some other name:
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.

Aoife passed the day in a window seat above the garden, alternating the beautiful sonnets of Shakespeare with the view of her beautiful flowers until she had read all the words it contained.

The next day another book appeared with her breakfast. She pushed the plate of food aside and hurried to her window seat with the book under her arm, eager to absorb a new world of words and life. The words spoke to her, as though she was with her family again in the outside world. They gave her a new appreciation for the Beast. Too hideous to venture out without scaring others yet too intelligent and caring to remain inside the castle walls without yearning for something.


Prompt: rewrite a fairytale.


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