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Beauty and the Beast

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This was one of those occasional mornings when Jean set her alarm clock to go off 10 minutes before her husband’s, despite having no reasonable excuse for this. She glanced quickly  to her left to see the man sleeping next to her still desperately sucking in air as he had done all night and every night since she agreed to marry him 7 years ago, knowing that after she had passed 25 her chances of finding a husband who’s rich and handsome were very slim. So she settled for the Beast slumbering next to her, comforted by the fact that he’d spend the majority of their first 30 years of marriage at the office. She gently tapped the box beeping on her bedside table, then stretched her bird-like limbs up over her head and sighed softly. With several minutes remaining to herself, she silently peeled the silk sheets from her bony legs and padded towards the bathroom, clicking the door shut behind her.
She removed her nightgown first and then stepped out of her panties, staring euphorically at her reflection. In the mornings, before eating her unsweetened, organic bran flakes with skim milk, Jean could actually see her hip bones poking out of her stomach right next to the toned lines of her abdomen. Her breasts were small enough that they still retained a bit of their youthful perkiness. She savored these private moments in the early mornings and they helped her persevere through her fairly ambitious, though necessary, weekly routine. The bliss of staring at her protruding collar bones justified the pain of running that sixth mile 5 times a week, despite every muscle in her body begging her to stop. She turned to see her body from the side, her dangling arms only barely slimmer than her torso. The ability to stare into a mirror and see a slim, crisp 100-pound package brought her sheer, unconditional, childish delight.
Her watch now read 6:29, so she slipped back into her nightgown and slithered out of the bathroom and into the walk-in closet, right as the Beast’s alarm clock began to buzz (a welcome interruption to the previous 8 hours of loud, erratic snoring). Jean then put on the pre-selected outfit draped on the chair on her side of the closet, freshly pressed by the cleaning lady, Fátima. Emphasis on Fat, Jean thought, chuckling to herself as she began to button up the blouse before fully registering how hideous the shade of washed out green was. How many times did she have to tell that imbecile that green was not her color? Jean resigned to wear the hideous blouse anyway, baffled that a person could be so beautiful yet still denied even the most basic forms of respect.
“De Misses cood pick out her own clodes, yees?” Jean whispered to the empty room in a horrendously exaggerated imitation of Fátima’s mild Spanish accent. Fully dressed, she headed back into the bedroom quietly, disappointed to see that the Beast had spotted her and would probably want to kill a few minutes chit chatting.
“Oh!” He said, upon noticing his wife fully dressed at 6:30 a.m. He kicked off the sheets and stretched his thick hairy body, his feat extending beyond the edge of the king-sized bed, toenails like claws he flexed his feet.  “What are you doing up so early, Sweetheart?”
“Oh nothing, just couldn’t sleep,” Jean said, flexing her cheeks in what she hoped would pass for a smile.
“Well, nevermind. What would you think about me takin’ the day off? I’ve got a couple sick days, and no serious cases at the moment. We could go that Italian place you love? I just miss you is all. I feel horrible about how busy I am, but it’s just part of the job description I guess,” He chuckled. “Whad'ya say? I could sure use the day off.”
“I’m…” Jean started, trying to pass her visible disappointment off as mere surprise, “Well, I wouldn’t want you to do that for me. It’s no trouble, really. Besides, I’m watching my carb-intake anyways, so Italian wouldn’t be good for me right now.” She put a measly amount of effort into a fake laugh, resulting in a suffocated “ha” with her neck bent and her mouth open.
“Well, I guess I’ll,” for a moment he looked similar to Jean after one of her 10k jogs when every inch of her body ached and all she wanted was to take a cold bath and rest her eyes with a margarita in each hand. He continued in a disappointed monotone, “I guess I’ll just get ready for work then.”
She forced out another one of her choked laughs, desperately trying to think of something happy spouses say to one another. She stood gawking at him for a moment and for the first time in a long while felt a twinge of pity for someone other than herself.




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