Liberty

Source:Daily Science FictionRelease time:2019-04-22

Yearn for freedom, love freedom.

After her father died, Beauty raged against the Beast.

His fortress, which she had loved so much for its chests of magic and its cabinets of knowledge, had suddenly morphed, become a prison of the mind from which there was no egress to be found, as she had tried to find, on more than one occasion--had walked out and followed her feet, only to find herself back where she started.

She threw a book at the Beast's ugly face, and thought how she hated him, sitting upright in a tatty armchair as though it were a throne, his black hair unkempt and his mouth properly gobsmacked, holding the fallen book open in his fingers.

"Why," she wailed at him, conscious--even through her rage--of the tremor of madness in her voice, "why do you keep me here?"

Deferential as ever, he shut the book quietly and spoke to her in a whisper that shuttled across the desk like sheaves of paper: "Miss? This is a library."

So it was: she examined the books that bound her in their straight stacks and remembered that it was their bindings that revoked her liberty, their whispers that kept her numb to a reality less real than the one inspired by the words in her head.

"But I do not want to leave," she wondered, and when the dizzy sway of words subsided, she found no Beast at all, but only the librarian in his spectacles.

He held the book out to her from across the desk, and a smile softened his handsome jawline.

"Then--stay."