The bearskin is hot and heavy. Beneath it I am hair and sweat and fingernails, itching and bleeding, stinking with the filth of unwashed years. The people I pass recoil when they see me.
Good, I think. I recoiled from myself in the mirror long before my seven years began: there is a spiteful glee in my heart each time I see that they see me as I see myself.
But there is hope before me now, strong as silk, and I follow it grimly. Seven years I must wear this bearskin, seven years I must leave my nails and hair uncut, seven years I must go without washing – but at the end of it, so the man with the horse’s foot promised, I’ll have whatever I desire.
“You know what I want,” I told him.
In my pocket I carry half a broken ring, a promise within a promise. I find some comfort in its smooth curve, its raw jagged edges: touching it, I think of the woman who holds the other half. She loved me for myself, I think, for she met me as Bearskin. It cannot be my body she cared for.
When my fingers catch on the ring’s broken edge, I wonder if she’ll still love me when she sees me as I’ll become.
Written for Flash Fiction Month, day 20. This year I'm also fulfilling a challenge by an anonymous contributor - every character must be queer - as well as one by Teague-Drydan: At least half of the month needs to be fairy tale re-writes. Bonus if they aren't well known fairy tales. Fairy tale count: 11/16.
This is a retelling of "Bearskin", which is weird because it has the same name.
The rest of today's stories can be found here.
I really like the subtlety of this. You never spell it out but by the end it's perfectly clear what the narrator needs and will ask the devil for.
I seriously love the way you write.
Ooooo nice job!
I like how the thing the narrator wanted wasn't made explicitly clear. It's thought-provoking.