Hellooo from the other side*! (Aka I am writing this on February 24 but scheduling it to go up on March 2.) (Because by the time this goes up I will be on a cruise ship.) (Because senior year spring break.)
As I promised last week (or about five minutes ago, for me), I’ve got a special Wordy Wednesday for you today! We recently had to write a five-page adaptation of a classic fairy tale for my writing children’s literature class. Mine got a little (very) rushed at the end, because five pages is, like, nothing. But my professor liked it a lot and I haven’t shared any fiction on here in a while. So, I give you: “Beast and the Beauty.”
(Warning that this story contains some mild language and stuff!)
Once upon a time there was a beautiful girl named Rose. She was a high school senior—all golden hair, skin from the “after” segment of a Proactiv infomercial, and sparkling blue eyes. And, most importantly (at least for this tale), she was a fierce competitor in the Provincial County Annual Beauty Pageant (err, “Scholarship Competition”).
“Mirror, mirror, on the wall. Who’s the fairest of them all?” she could frequently be heard saying to any reflective surface within her sightline.
“For the last time,” Mindy Sue (who wore very reflective glasses) could likewise frequently be heard saying, “I am not a mirror, I am a human being, and—” But Rose was also known for having a very short attention span for anything that was not herself, and she’d generally moved on by that point.
Mindy Sue would just push her glasses further up her nose, sigh, and pronounce, “She’s such a royal pain in my ass.”
“Yes, well, that’s generally what happens when you’ve won Princess of Provincial County the last three years in a row,” her twin brother, Henry, would say from where he had his nose buried in a Sudoku book. You see, Henry was a math nerd and he didn’t like his skillz to get dull during the twenty-three hours or so between each AP Calculus BC class, so he liked to practice other math-related activities in his free time.
Both Mindy Sue and Henry weren’t exactly what one might call “traditionally attractive.” They weren’t even really “nerd chic.” In fact, on the day on which our story begins, Mindy Sue was wearing an oversized orange t-shirt (which truly is not an attractive color on anyone), flared jeans that didn’t quite reach her ankles, and beat up white tennis shoes that, if polled, nine out of ten grandmothers would likely agree they would be embarrassed to be seen wearing. Henry, on the other hand, wore a faded t-shirt featuring that one X-Men character no one cares about, jeans that, while they fit him fairly well, were not even properly faded or distressed (nor were from a name brand), and scuffed black off-brand high-tops that showed off his truly beastly-sized feet. (Okay, so maybe Henry didn’t look that bad. But he certainly didn’t deserve to breathe the same air as someone as beautiful as Rose.)
Just then, the bell rang, and the twins parted ways with another annoyed sigh from Mindy Sue (she sighed quite a lot) and a distracted, halfhearted wave from Henry, whose nose was still buried in the Sudoku book.
At the end of the school day, after play practice (for Mindy Sue) and mathletes (for, well, you can guess who), the twins trundled home. Their family was solidly middle class, with a nice split level in a nice subdivision, all of which was wholly nice and ordinary and often made Henry dream of something more. (“I want to be where the people are,” he could often be heard murmuring to the MIT pendant tacked above his desk.) However, on this particular evening, at dinner the twins’ father fidgeted in his seat and couldn’t bear to touch his second slice of meat-lovers’ pizza, which was so wholly unordinary (and not nice) that Henry even looked up from his copy of Mathematician Monthly to ask, voice quavering with a rush of concern, “Dad, why aren’t you touching your second slice of meat-lovers’ pizza?”
“It’s nothing,” said Mindy Sue and Henry’s father.
Mindy Sue rolled her eyes dramatically. “Well clearly it’s not nothing. Goodness, Dad!”
“Don’t harass him,” said Henry, the ever understanding and supportive child.
“Please,” said Mindy Sue, “I’m older. I understand these things.”
“For the last time,” Henry groaned, “you were born five minutes before me! That does not make you wiser in any statistically probable—”
“I LOST MY JOB,” their father burst out, more to get the twins to stop squabbling than to actually share his upsetting news.
The teenagers stared at him. The pizza—normally their favorite meal—threatened to make a return trip out of their mouths. “What?” Mindy Sue said, an outraged glint in her eye.
“I got caught stealing from the breakroom and I lost my job,” their father repeated—and, quite comfortable sharing news now that the first part was over, he added, “Also, I need what money we have left to finish paying off the mortgage on the house, or everything we own will be repossessed, so you guys are on your own for figuring out college now. Sorry. Henry, would you mind passing me another slice of meat-lovers’ pizza?”
Mindy Sue stared at him, gaping like a fish. Henry, on the other hand, was ever the dutiful son so he passed their father another slice of meat-lovers’ pizza and immediately began thinking about how to make enrolling at MIT next year still a statistically probable possibility.
“What do you mean,” Mindy Sue finally spluttered out, after their father had ingested another two and a half slices of meat-lovers’ pizza, “that we are on our own for figuring out college now?”
“I’m sorry,” their father said, “but what’s happened has happened. I can’t afford to send you two to college anymore. If you want to go, you’re going to have to find a way to pay for yourself.” And he ate another slice of pizza.
“I’m doomed,” Mindy Sue wailed. “DOOMED, I TELL YOU.” She flew from the room.
“Eh.” Henry shrugged. “I’ll figure something out.”
“I always knew there was a reason you were my favorite,” said their father. “You know, besides the obvious ‘younger sibling’ thing.”
The next day, Henry dutifully hung flyers around the school, offering to tutor students in math. He waited beside his phone all evening for calls begging him to teach the lowly miscreants of Provincial County High how to solve for x, but his phone rang no more than usual (which is to say it did not ring at all). After a second night of this, he was ready to give up in despair—but then, on the third night, a truly shocking thing happened: his phone rang.
It took him a solid three rings to figure out how to answer the call, it happened so infrequently.
“Hello,” the person on the other end of the line said, “it’s me.”
“Me who?” he asked. “Is ‘me’ like a nickname for Mea from English class?”
“No, you dolt,” said the voice. “It’s ‘me,’ as in Rose, the three time champion of the Provincial County Beauty Pageant—I mean ‘Scholarship Competition.’”
“Oh no,” Henry said. “No, no, no. I’m not tutoring you.”
“Rumor has it that if you don’t, you won’t get to go to college,” Rose said.
“How do you know that?” Henry said. “Wait, right—your family owns the company that fired my dad for stealing from the breakroom. Ugh.” Henry fondled his MIT pendant. He was so close to getting out of Provincial County. “Fine. Whatever. Sure. I’ll tutor you.”
They met the next afternoon in Henry’s favorite spot: the calculus classroom.
In place of greeting, he asked, “So what do you get out of this anyway?”
“The Provincial County Beau—Scholarship Competition says I can’t compete this year if I don’t get my grades up,” Rose confessed.
“Well, how bad are they?” Henry asked.
“All Fs,” said Rose. “But that’s F for phenomenal, right?”
“Please tell me you’ve hired an English tutor as well,” was his response.
“The point is,” the young beauty wailed, “if I don’t get my grade up in algebra, I’ll never get to regain my title and be a princess again!”
“You do realize winning the beauty pageant does not make you a real—”
“Shut up, Harry.”
Henry shrugged and began tutoring her.
He taught Rose all about imaginary numbers and integers and other things that begin with the letter I. He also slowly taught her about the important things in life, like how glasses and mirrors are two different things, the names of all the X-Men, and how to do Sudoku. By the end of their tutoring, Rose had a C in algebra and a much better grasp on #lyfe. She also had quite a crush on Henry (whose name she had finally bothered to learn around their second month focused solely on how to draw x, y graphs), which was good because he’d also learned to look past appearances and had fallen for her as well. After all, the beauty was much more bearable now that she knew who Professor X was. One might say she was even transformed.
Henry got into MIT with a hefty scholarship (which is good, because it turns out tutoring one person doesn’t pay all that well), Rose won the Provincial County Scholarship Competition for the fourth year in a row (thus reinstating her as Princess), and, with Rose enrolled in beautician school just down the street from Henry’s dorm, they lived happily ever after. (Oh, and Mindy Sue got a scholarship to Julliard. It turned out all of her dramatic sighing paid off, too.)
Thanks for reading! (Here’s hoping I make it back to Michigan without a sunburn and/or Zika Virus?)
*You’re welcome for the multiple cliche Adele references in this post.