Read Part 1 – Calla
Read Part 2 – Tower
Read Part 3 – Beast
Read Part 4 – Rose
Read Part 5 – Quest
“We’ll look into it, ma’am,” said the police officer, in a tone that indicated he’d do the exact opposite, tossing the form Calla had just filled out atop the messy stack of papers at the edge of his desk.
After Calla and Rose escaped the mansion, they’d split the money Edgar had given Rose for supplies and tearfully gone their separate ways. Rose wanted to forget. To drive miles and miles away, change her name and start over in a beautiful place. Calla knew she was never going to forget.
Calla could tell the officer was trying to dismiss her, but she refused to move. “You aren’t going to go out there and arrest him?!”
The officer sighed deeply, folding his hands and staring at her as though the sight of her caused him pain. “That’s not how it works, ma’am,” he said through gritted teeth. “There has to be an investigation. Is there anyone that can corroborate this…story?”
Calla thought of Rose, hoping she was sunning herself on a beach somewhere with her nose in one of her beloved romance novels, a pink beach rose tucked in her wind-tousled hair. “No, there’s no one else,” she whispered. “But I was held there against my will! For months!”
“Yes ma’am, I heard you. He took you and locked you away and attacked you and made you wear…” he glanced at the report “…Victorian gowns.” He stifled a hiccup that sounded suspiciously like a giggle. “No one has even seen Edgar Henry in town for years. He’s a bit of a recluse and quite…errr…sheltered…by his mother. It’s hard to imagine him pulling off something like this.”
“I know it sounds insane but it’s true,” Calla’s knees weakened, and she gripped the edge of the desk for support. “I need you to believe me. That man…is a monster. You have no idea what I’ve been through.”
He sighed again, leaning back in his seat. “I’ll send someone to bring him in for questioning. But I can’t promise anything.”
Calla’s spirits lifted, but the feeling was short-lived. Another officer called her that night, in the dirty motel room she was staying in at the edge of town. She didn’t sleep, keeping her eyes on the flickering television screen, listening for sounds of movement outside. The call with the officer was short. Edgar had told the police that he was a friend, helping Calla with her sobriety by letting her live with him for a short time while she got back on her feet. She’d been free to leave at any time, according to him. Calla was unfamiliar with the town, hundreds of miles from her home, but apparently the Henry name was influential, even though their mansion was decaying, and the neglected grounds had to be an eyesore among the other fine homes surrounding it.
“Ma’am,” the officer said through the phone. She’d been called ‘ma’am’ more in the past day than in her entire lifetime. “We do see that you have multiple arrests for drug possession, public intoxication, drunk and disorderly…”
“I get it,” Calla interrupted. “Thanks for calling.” She hung up without saying goodbye. She had to move quickly.
During the entire cab ride to the bus station, she kept checking the back window, looking for headlights, a shadow lurking in the trees. She was certain the driver thought she was paranoid by the time the car came to a smooth stop in front of the well-lit terminal, which was still bustling with activity despite the late hour. Maybe she would track down Rose somehow. They could start over together.
As she was nearing the ticket counter, she felt someone grab her arm, squeezing so tightly she was afraid her bone would crack. “I’ll always find you,” he whispered in her ear.
She shrugged her arm away, surprised at how easily he released her. He was wearing the mask. She stepped backward on trembling, watery limbs, hoping to put as much distance between them as she could. He didn’t approach. “No one gets away with humiliating me, with humiliating my family, the way you did today. You can leave town, walk away right now, and look over your shoulder, every day for months, years, wondering if I’m following you, if I’m watching, biding my time.” He slowly stepped forward. “Or you can come back with me now. Be my wife. Give me an heir. Live a life you could have only dreamed of before.”
“Or I can scream and have every security guard here running over in seconds.” She squared her shoulders, hiding her shivering hands behind her back.
He nodded, taking another step forward. “You could. But you saw how that worked out before.”
She bit down on her bottom lip, hard, tasting blood, to keep it from quivering. She looked at the ticket counter and thought of Rose, the warmth of her friendship. Maybe they’d find a small apartment together, somewhere near the water, a healing place. But it would be a life of restricted freedom – a life of fear and checking rearview mirrors and dark corners forever. She turned, with a pained sigh, as Edgar extended his hand.
Read Part 7 – Transformation
My favorite prompt during Story A Day in May was Rewrite a Fairy Tale, so I decided to tackle it again, this time with Beauty and the Beast in a serial form.