Beauty tore down all the sheets that hung around the room. It was Beauty’s darling Step-mother who requested they be hung in the first place. Beauty didn’t think anything of it at the time, the sheets needed to dry. But five years later, when they had begun to fade in the sun, Beauty knew it was time for them to be taken down. Flowery sheets weren’t Beauty’s idea of beauty. He liked plain white ones.
“Oh Beauty!” It was Step-mother calling. She waltzed into his room as though she belonged there.
“Step-mother, I told you before that I don’t like you coming into my room without knocking first,” Beauty whined.
“Oh nonsense!” Step-mother cried. “Now where are the sheets I asked you to hang up?”
“That was so long ago, I took them down,” Beauty confessed.
“Alright then, get on your knees. Where is the whip?”
“Step-mother,” Beauty sighed. “I’m four and twenty years old. Aren’t we a little past this?”
“Well who else am I going to beat now that your father is gone?” Step-mother exclaimed.
“Alright then,” Beauty conceded. “But just this once.”
Beauty took the barbed whip from the wardrobe and handed it to Step-mother. He fell to his knees before her, his long brown hair hiding his face as he removed his shirt. Step-mother hissed when she saw the scars on his back.
“Who did this to you?” Step-mother questioned.
“You did, Step-mother. Last week. And the week before. And every week for the last five years,” Beauty counted.
“Liar!” Step-mother screeched and the whip came down upon Beauty’s back.
Beauty felt the sting of the whip cutting into his flesh, removing the few scabs from the last time. Within three lashes the blood was flowing freely.
“Oh!” Step-mother gasped. She stepped back and Beauty looked up at her, a grin on his face.
“What happened?” Step-mother asked.
“Nothing at all Step-mother,” Beauty chided.
“Then hang up the sheets!” Step-mother demanded, dropping the whip and leaving the room.
“Right away Step-mother,” Beauty submitted.
As soon as the door to Beauty’s bedroom closed he lay upon his white sheets and graced them with roses and adonis.