A series of fictional encounters with books.
‘Oranges are Not the Only Fruit’ by Jeanette Winterson
‘That afternoon I went to the library. I went the long way round, so as to miss the couples. They made funny noises that sounded painful, and the girls were always squashed against the wall. In the library I felt better, words you could trust and look at till you understood them, they couldn’t change half way through a sentence like people, so it was easier to spot a lie. I found a book of fairy tales, and read one called ‘Beauty and the Beast.’
In this story, a beautiful young woman finds herself the forfeit of a bad bargain made by her father. As a result, she has to marry an ugly beast, or dishonour her family forever. Because she is good, she obeys. On her wedding night, she gets into bed with the beast, and feeling pity that everything should be so ugly, gives it a little kiss. Immediately, the beast is transformed into a handsome young prince, and they live happily ever after.
I wondered if the woman married to a pig had read this story, She must have been awfully disappointed if she had. And what about my Uncle Bill, he was horrible, and hairy, and looking at the picture, transformed princes aren’t meant to be hairy at all.
Slowly I closed the book, It was clear that I had stumbled on a terrible conspiracy.
There are women in the world.
There are men in the world.
And there are beasts.
What do you do if you marry a beast?
Kissing them didn’t always help.
And beasts are crafty. They disguise themselves like you and I.
Like the wolf in ‘Little Red Riding Hood’
Why had no one told me? Did that mean no one else knew?
Did that mean that all over the globe, in all innocence, women were marrying beasts?’