The Hunk and the Hag – Part I

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Tinged in a layer of darkness and grief floating deep in her soul, Bella thought that no one would recognize her in the cover of the night. She often slipped past her home after midnight so that she could get some fresh breath of air minus the dirty comments that were fired her way. Life had always been cruel with her since birth and she had a face that made stereotypical thinking slip people’s tongues.

The moon was a pale round accompanied by dark clouds that made it difficult for the stars to shine to their fullest. Bella walked across the town to the end of it to get to the river, where the silver stream of water calmed her worries. At the bottom of her swollen feet, the water was a cool, narrow fluid that gathered to her ankles. She set down quietly on one of the protruding rocks.

The night was young but she knew that numerous terrors lurked past the woods. Young women were also sometimes captured and kidnapped into different kingdoms, never to be found ever again. But Bella did not care, she never worried for herself for her own sake, she had dropped doing that long ago, such was her loathing for herself. A few crickets sang peaceful harmonies into the night, the river played its own melody and an owl hooted, somewhere in the distance. This was the music of Bella’s soul, which was agonized and shamed from what people had to say about the way she looked.

But between the sounds of nature, a few crisp leaves shuffled beneath the weight of something. Bella’s keen ears perked at the first twist in the unnatural sound. Multiple thoughts raced through her mind, a wild beast’s attack, preying on her, training its sight on her, hiding from the cluster of the woods. Or it could be some humans, watching her carefully in an attempt to catch her off guard. But Bella knew that the catch of these people would not be a pretty looking maiden rather the ‘ugly duckling’ as the entire town called.

Yet, thick panic arose in Bella’s heart, threatening to spill over and freeze her on the spot. Bella was several things, ugly, horrible, and unattractive but she was not a coward. She forced her jammed muscles to stand and without waiting for any beat longer, she ran. Instinct told her that whoever had his eyes trained on her was also closely following her now. She had to hurry so she forced her bare feet into a frenzy, cursing herself all the while.

The day was never a time for her to get out of her small room, if she did she only ended up bring mocked, taunted or demeaned. Now, the night warned her against her visits, and decided to turn her down. The hustling voice of boots made it clear that whoever followed Bella was not a beast, rather some human. Yet sense spoke to her and alerted her that human was no different than a wild animal. She ignored the thorns and pebbles picking on her feet and ran like the fire itself was chasing her until she finally made it within the safe corners of her home.

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