Beauty and the Beast Triptych: Piece 1–“Beauty and the Beastess”

Melanie Magaña

Please read the Introduction first. Then continue reading each piece in order.

Click on the following titles to be magically transported to each piece of the triptych.

2. Beast’s Beauty”                3. “Beauty’s Beginning”

1. BEAUTY AND THE BEASTESS

The Curse

Once upon a time there lived a princess.  Naturally she was beautiful, as all princesses are, but more than that, she was also kind-hearted, and smart and interested in all sorts of things.  One day, she caught the eye of an evil imp, who became besotted with her.  “Marry me!” he commanded her.  “Excuse me?” she said.  Being a princess, she was unaccustomed to strangers approaching unannounced and making demands of her, whether they were human or not.

“Marry me immediately or face the consequences!”  the imp ordered.

The princess looked around uncertainly, wondering where her retinue had disappeared to, and how she might remove herself from this unpleasant situation without hurting the imp’s feelings.

“Well?” the imp demanded.

“I’m sorry,” the princess began, “I don’t even know you, plus you don’t appear to be human.”

“What?!?” the imp screeched. “Many a successful marriage has been based on far less than that!  You’d be lucky to land a husband like me!”

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Beauty and the Beast Triptych: Piece 2– “Beast’s Beauty”

Melanie Magaña

Please read the Introduction first. Then continue reading each piece in order.

Click on the following titles to be magically transported to each piece of the triptych.

  1. “Beauty and the Beastess”                  3. “Beauty’s Beginning”

 

2. BEAST’S BEAUTY

Tale

Once upon a time, there was an extremely handsome young man who lived in a village at the foot of a mountain.  It was generally a peaceful village, whose residents laughed, loved, celebrated, broke each others’ hearts, worked, played, buried and mourned their dead, helped each other when they could, and tried to live as comfortably as possible.

All the while, the mountain watched over their lives, changing with the seasons and growing over time.  The mountain was home to lots of trees, bushes, flowers, herbs, deer, squirrels, rabbits, skunks, birds, goats, mice, and bears though not many of those, and they’d be more afraid of you than you would be of them.

Near the top of the mountain, just below the clouds, there was a cabin made from some of the trees that grew there, and quite grown over with moss.  Inside was a small living room, cozily furnished with a big stuffed chair and footstool, a big stuffed bookcase, a small table and a great stone fireplace.  It also had a small kitchen with several iron pots, its own fireplace, and a window overlooking the glade outside.  Tucked behind the kitchen was a tiny room containing a sink and a large tub, which flowed with clean, hot water at the turn of a nozzle, and a small porcelain seat in which one could do what one must and flush away the result in a trice.  This last is noteworthy because in the village down at the foot of the mountain, the residents were still visiting the backyard whenever ablutions became necessary, which was most inconvenient during the long, cold winters.

The cabin had an upstairs as well, with two small bedrooms, each with its own fireplace, bookcase, feather bed and lots of warm down blankets, necessary to endure winters on the mountain.

As comfortable as the cabin was in itself, however, its most extraordinary feature was outside, just behind it.  Where the residents of the village below had outhouses, the smells of which wafted into their open windows during the hot summers, behind the cabin stood a large, old tree, around which a narrow but sturdy stair wound, leading up, up into its boughs where sat nestled a treehouse built of the same wood as the cabin, grown over with the same moss and therefore difficult to see unless one knew to look for it.

Inside the treehouse were more bookshelves, overflowing with books, a largish telescope, and a smallish laboratory with vials and tubes and jars and dishes containing strange mixtures.  From this vantage point, the resident of the cottage could see the valley below, the mountains to the west, and the plains and river and forests between them.

It was in this canopy-ensconced perch that she read her books, mixed her herbs, drew her plans, and watched the world below.

In good weather, every few months, she would rise in the dark hours of the morning, gather some jars and vials, some books and drawings, and packing them tightly to her back, she would make her way down the mountain, passing through the village before the sunrise, on her way to the town across the river.  There she would buy supplies and meet with a group of wise people to discuss ways of making life even more comfortable for themselves, for the people in the town, the small village, and for you and me.

It was a solitary life, and quite a satisfactory one for the woman who lived atop the mountain.

At the foot of the mountain, the handsome man lived a life which could hardly be described as solitary.  He was personable and outgoing, with an infectious laugh that drew both women and men toward him, eager to bask in the glow of his company.

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Beauty and the Beast Triptych: Piece 3–“Beauty’s Beginning”

Melanie Magaña

Please read the Introduction first. Then continue reading each piece in order.

Click on the following titles to be magically transported to each piece of the triptych.

  1. “Beauty and the Beastess”                        2. Beast’s Beauty”

3. BEAUTY’S BEGINNING

Crappy Ending

“Once upon a time…” That’s how the stories opened.  And we believed it, she and I.

“…and they lived Happily Ever After.”  We believed that too, every word.  But then she met Him.  She believed he was her Prince Charming, the one who would make her the princess in the fairy tale.  I thought at first that he might be too, but soon I knew better.  I don’t know if she ever really got it, but it doesn’t matter now.
The day of Isabel’s funeral dawned bright and sunny, lovely as Isabel herself.  It was ironic and completely unfair. In my head, the storms raged and the clouds hung heavy and dark, blocking every trace of the sun.  She was my best friend, had been my best friend, closer than a sister, the person who knew me best in the world.  Now she was dead.  She’d been beaten to a pulp by an unknown attacker on her way home from serving soup to the hungry at church. She stumbled home somehow, where she died in the tender arms of her grief-stricken and loving husband: that was the official story.  Bullshit!  I know damn well who this “unknown attacker” is. He winked at me during the graveside service, the bastard.

She was excited when he asked her out.  “Mags,” she said, “He’s The One!  He’s Prince Charming!”

“Really? Real-life Prince Charming?” I teased. “Does he have a brother?”

“No, only an older sister. I can’t wait for you to meet him!”

And then I met him.  He was handsome, I’ll grant him that, and he went out of his way to be charming. But this guy was no prince. There was something a little off about him and I couldn’t put my finger on it.

“I don’t know, Belle,” I told her later. “I think you can do better.”

“Better? There is nobody better than William. He’s the prize at the bottom of the crackerjack box,” she effused. As for me, I thought he was the prize at the bottom of something, all right, but it wasn’t caramel popcorn. I kept my own counsel though. I’d already made my opinion known, and she was having none of it.  “Oh, Maggie, when I’m with him, I feel like I’m the most beautiful and fascinating woman in the world!  You’ll see…one day you’ll meet someone who makes you feel that way too, and then you’ll understand!”

Ok, sure, I’d never been in love.  Certainly nobody had ever been in love with me.  I couldn’t even imagine feeling pretty, let alone like the most beautiful woman in the world.  But Belle really was beautiful, and truly in that fairy-tale princess kind of way, all sweet and delicate femininity, like a dusky china doll.  And I could see why she’d feel so fascinating when she was with him; William had a way of schmoozing that made people feel important.  It was part of his charm.  But something lurked underneath that wasn’t quite wholesome, and I was always relieved when he turned his attention away from me.

Wedding

Their wedding promised to be a gorgeous affair: it would be at a swanky church on Ward Parkway, with all of William’s swanky lawyer friends attending.  His sister would not attend.  On Belle’s side there was basically just me, her brother from out West, and a few of her coworkers.  Former coworkers, I should say, since William made her quit her job.  Oh—I mean, she wanted to quit her job so she could concentrate on being the kind of wife that he needed.  At least that what she told me (and herself).  Of course she looked beautiful.  Radiant!  I’d never seen her look as happy as she did on that June afternoon, yet I felt a chill I just couldn’t shake. Continue reading

MEJ Call for Papers

Minnesota English Journal

Call for Submissions 2015-16

Editors: Scott Hall (Irondale High School) and Michael MacBride (Minnesota State University)

[pdf version here: MEJ Call for Papers 2015]

 

MEJ, the online journal of the Minnesota Council of Teachers of English, publishes scholarly articles, personal narratives, opinion/position pieces on topical teaching issues, short creative work (mostly poetry), and pieces focused on pedagogical strategies of major interest to English and Language Arts teachers of all instructional levels.

MEJ seeks to represent both quantitative and qualitative research—papers that are driven by classroom experiment, observation, description, anecdote, survey, interview(s), case study, and cross cultural comparison directly related to pedagogy, instructional research, content and curriculum, and literacy.

MEJ will also value pieces taking positions on important current issues impacting those teaching as well as being taught in the classroom.

MEJ’s audience consists of teachers from the elementary to the college level who want to learn more about effective teaching techniques, share their own classroom discoveries, and desire a platform for interacting with those who present their work.

MEJ now has a rolling deadline for submissions.  Articles can be published on the website as soon as revisions and editing are complete.  In order to meet the demands for our Spring publication, articles and essays must be submitted by January 15, 2016.  Peer-reviewed articles may take up to three months before publication after submission.

 

MEJ encourages the submission of three kinds of pieces:

  • formal research-driven articles, driven by theory, that will be peer-reviewed

–survey-driven articles; case studies; classroom experiments; traditional scholarly articles on language, literacy, and literature; online or face-to-face pedagogy; bibliographical essays; etc.

  • informal pedagogical pieces, driven by personal experience in the classroom, that will NOT be peer-reviewed

–“teaching tips,” or experiential pieces that come directly from a teacher’s (not always) successful attempts to address a specific classroom challenge; narratives by new teachers adjusting to their new classroom circumstances; effective methods for using technology in the classroom; methods for responding to student work; collaborative learning and how to manage it; requiring more student writing and how to manage the workload; matters of classroom assessment; interviews/conversations with mentor teachers, writers, or exemplary teaching professionals; management of classroom discussion; assembling teaching units that stimulate and succeed; efforts at enabling students to teach each other; creative projects of substance; effective strategies for helping students to use the internet responsibly and productively; etc.

  • opinion/position essays on issues of concern to those working in the profession, that will NOT be peer-reviewed

–writing across the curriculum; censorship; the role of testing in the educational process; the need for all teachers, at all levels, to continue to write in their disciplines and areas of interest; working in, with, and for the multi-cultural classroom; creative ways for public school teachers and college instructors to work in the same classroom and enrich the student experience in the process; making peer teacher evaluation a reciprocally constructive process; recognizing the teaching of English as the most important teaching endeavor; issues of educational policy; etc.

MEJ encourage pieces of all lengths, from a couple of pages to thirty.  Citation of sources (primary or secondary) should be done in accordance with the MLA Handbook for Writers for Research Papers, 7th edition.

 

MEJ looks forward to hearing from all of you.

Submit to: Scott Hall @ scott.hall@moundsviewschools.org

Deadline to meet Spring publication date: January 15, 2016