Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1073430-Beauty-the-Beast
by Zech01
Rated: E · Short Story · Comedy · #1073430
Short story adapted from "The Way up to Heaven" by Roald Dahl
Beauty, the Beast?

She loathed him. It was official. Let the newspapers scream it; let those accursed reporters indulge in the latest speculations. She, Malyn Lee, 23 year old undergraduate and winner of the 2005 Miss Singapore Universe Pageant, was planning on a divorce from millionaire Kwok Siow Kee.

Her eyes welled up with tears and her lips quivered in distress as she saw his limousine cruising past the huge garden and nearing the 10-room mansion. After two years, she truly regretted those two, hated words – “I do” – which so ruined her life. “To love and cherish him, to honor and sustain him, in sickness and in health, in poverty as in wealth, in the bad that may darken your days, in the good that may lighten your ways, and to be true to him in all things until death alone shall part you.” Malyn laughed bitterly as her mind recalled that marital vow she once swore to observe.

“How hard can it be?” she had argued with herself as the pastor droned on.

“How hard can it be? How ignorant can I be!” she now cursed herself.

It was a nightmare. It had to be. How could she, a young beauty with a promising future, end up with this man? A lone tear of rage trickled down her flawless cheeks. She looked out at the man she once considered to be her husband stroll out of the car.

She hated every part of him. His attitude, his habits, his looks, his… his… everything! Her well-manicured nails bit into her tender skin as she clenched her fist. Another tear of aspiration rolled down her cheek. As her mind raged about his countless flaws, she thought of one which clearly showed she was nothing but his object of fun and entertainment.

All her life, Marlyn had had an almost pathological fear of being late. It did not matter what the occasion was, she just could not bear the idea of arriving even a second late. It had almost become a habit. Half an hour before it was even time to leave, Marlyn would already start having this feeling of apprehension. She would constantly pace around the huge, well-furnished living room, impatiently awaiting her husband’s “grand entrance” (or exit for the matter).

It was fairly obvious he knew very well of her vexing habit. Yet, it had become clear to Marlyn that he seemed to manipulate it to his pleasure. After two years, he had learnt the perfect timing to appear. It seemed to Marlyn that it was not until she was on the verge of screaming for him that he finally made his way down the carpeted stairs, making sure he took his time.

Torture! That was what it was, plain torture! Marlyn thought. She continued recalling how terribly he had treated her. She was nothing but his toy! He… Then, something deep inside her heart, the only part of her that was still sensible, gently reminded her of the real reason for her hatred of him.

Jacques. The man of almost every woman’s dreams. Unlike Kwok, everything about him was perfect to Marlyn. His stunning features, his irresistible charm, his well-toned muscles, his witty and humorous conversations and basically everything else about him. Perfect. There was no other word to describe him.

They were from the same university once. Marlyn recalled with little pang of jealousy how he used to flirt with almost every girl. All but her. Yet, her best friends used to joke that he would never flirt with the girl he truly liked.

Marlyn smiled as she wiped away the tears gathering at the bottom of her eyes. If only she could be his beloved. Just the two of them, living far away in an island paradise. No one to disturb them, no one to break them apart, just like at that party in Hilton. Just the two of them, him holding her, moving slowly to the music, his muscular arms hugging her…

Then Kwok had to come in. Tearing both of them apart. Splintering the most beautiful moment of her life. As she grudgingly accepted his invitation to dance, she caught the look in Jacques’ eyes. Jealousy? Sympathy? Anger? She could never figure it out. Yet, it was clear. He loved her. And she loved him. If only they could be together. Together forever.

“If only,” she sighed.

The sound of the huge oak door opening brought her back to reality.

“If only it wasn’t for him!” Marlyn hissed as she rushed out of the master bedroom to greet her husband. A wide, beautiful smile replaced the sneer that her heart now gave.

He had made another sweet million. He laughed as he bragged about how his business rival, with a defeated look on his face, was forced to sign the contract that sold his former company to his hated rival for a dirt-cheap price.’

“Of course, only you are the smartest!” Marlyn cooed as she massaged his back slowly. All her previous thoughts of divorce had been vanquished at the sound of more money. After all, had Kwok not promised her another eight million if she took care of him till death did them part? However, the feeling of his rough, blotched shoulders against her soft, tender hands made her wince.

“Only you and that partner of yours are wise enough to think three steps ahead and make this business so successful,” she gently praised him.

He jerked around suddenly to face a shocked Marlyn.

“Don’t mention that foolish partner of
mine in front of me!” he spat.

Visibly shaken, tears sprang to Marlyn’s eyes. She opened her mouth to say something, but was hushed by Kwok. He sighed as he patted her hand and apologized for his rashness. She accepted it and forced a kiss on his time-ravaged cheek. His smile again disappeared as he described his “foolish and ignorant partner”.

“Yes, yes, of course, no one is smarted than you darling,” Marlyn breathed into his ears. That disgusting smile of pleasure crept onto his face again as she heaped praises on him. In her heart, though, she cursed him for being a two-faced crook whose entire image was nothing but a deception to hide that selfish, cruel heart. Yet, once again, she felt a pang of guilt, knowing that she had just described herself......

“What time is it Rupert?” Marlyn questioned her chauffer.

“Ten minutes to nine Madam,” he replied politely.

A week had passed since her “emotional argument”. The huge mansion was now a bustle of activity as servants hustled to and fro in various chores. Most were packing luggage into a mini van waiting outside. Both occupants of the house were going off for a quite long while. Two weeks to be exact. Marlyn’s mother who had just migrated to China had been admitted into a hospital due to heart problems. Marlyn was to spend two weeks with her before bringing her home. Every second wasted was one second less she would spend with her mother. This was an important trip and Marlyn definitely did not want to miss the flight.

She fluttered around the house and happened to glance at the grandfather clock in the dining room.

“It’s nine already! I swear I’m going to miss my eleven o’clock flight!” she moaned silently.

Ten minutes later, her patience snapped. Bursting into the master bedroom, she nearly fainted in expiration at the sight of her snoring husband still fast asleep in his undergarments.

“Darling,” she patted him gently – and winced again – on his blotchy shoulders. “It’s ten past nine already! I’ll miss the flight if you don’t wash up soon!” she tried to sound as calm as possible.

“You’ll catch it,” he mumbled sleepily.

Marlyn could not help noticing a faint, sly smile that crept up his lips. She opened her mouth but closed it again at the sound of his gentle snores. Screaming inside, she pounded the walls as she stepped out of the room. Her poor, poor mother! She could not bear to imagine how much she would suffer without her beloved daughter.

He was doing it on purpose! Torturing her as he had done for the past two years. Oh, how she hated her husband! She nearly sobbed as she thought of Jacques. How wonderful if only she could exchange Kwok for him! If it was not for the riches she was promised, she…

Her train of thoughts was derailed as she sniffed. It was as if something hit her. She instantly bolted upright and sniffed again. Looking around, she made sure no one was looking then inhaled deeply. It was faint, but yes, it was there alright. She made her way to the kitchen, looked straight, then looked up at the ventilation pipes. She then made her way, as casually as possible, back to the master bedroom. She went near to the pipe in the bedroom and sniffed again. A sly smile momentarily crept up her face. She walked up to the door, clicked the lock and then walked out and shut the door, making sure it was locked from inside. Satisfied, she made her way back to the living room.

“Ah Nam, what time should all of you be leaving?” she questioned the head of the servants of her house. She was given an answer of around fifteen more minutes. She smiled, then passed the trusted servant her house keys.

“Lock the door when you leave. Sir is still sleeping so don’t disturb him. If he wakes up, please tell him I left first and send him my regards. After all, he’s only going to go to the spa resort rather near here for a relaxation programme. It won’t matter if he’s late,” she told the rather bewildered looking servant.

Following that, she grabbed her handbag and rushed out of the house.

“Let’s go Rupert,” she said as she glanced at her watch.

“How about Sir?” he asked quizzically as he got into the limousine.

“Oh, he’ll be fine. He can always take a cab to the resort,” she replied.

With that, she looked out at the huge mansion drifting away from sight and a satisfied smile crept up her face.

As it turned out, she caught the plane with only minutes to spare. She arrived in China safely and took care of her aging mother, who miraculously, fully recuperated. Like any other faithful wife, she sent her husband long distance messages on her hand phone everyday and was interested to observe that she got no replies. When the three weeks were up, she had to make a sorrowful farewell to beloved parents and return home. Yet, there was something in her manner that suggested the possibility of her return soon.

When she finally returned home, she noticed a faint odor in the air, or, to be more precise, a mixture of odors in the air. There was no one at home; the servants and her husband were not scheduled to return until tomorrow. She smiled as she made her way to the telephone. Referring to the phonebook, she dialed a number.

“Hello,” she said, “I’m calling from Orchard Mansion… Yes, with an O. Listen, could you send one of your repairmen down here? I think that there was a gas leak in my house. Also, my husband complained a few weeks ago that the ventilation system was not working very well and smells from the kitchen were drifting in. Could you fix that too? Sorry… Right away? Yes, of course. But I’ll have to search for my spare keys though. I think my husband locked the door from the inside again. Yes. Thank you,”

As she put down the receiver, one could not help noticing that as Malyn was talking to the operator, she had taken out the picture of Kwok from her wallet and replaced it with that of Jacques.

Adapted from:
“The Way up to Heaven” by Roald Dahl and “The Marriage” by Catherine Lim

Done by:
Zech Tan E-an .
© Copyright 2006 Zech01 (zech01 at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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