BEAUTY AND THE BEAST | one.
A horse-drawn carriage careens down the scorched landscape at full gallop. In the back seat of the -slightly dark- cruiser sits Carmen Cullen. On the verge of womanhood, beautiful, but off-kilter. She sees the world in a different light then most her age. Presently, she grumbles as her mother, Elizabeth Cullen, fusses with her naturally curly honey blonde hair.
"I don't want to go. I doubt they'll notice if we never arrive"
"They'll notice" she says as she re-ties her waist sash, feeling for her corset.
Elizabeth frowns. "Where's your corset?"
She pulls back her dress to see bare legs.
Elizabeth gasps. "And no stockings!"
Carmen plainly shrugs. "I'm against them"
"But you're not properly dressed "
"Who's to say what is proper? What if it was agreed that 'proper' was wearing a codfish on your head? Would you wear it?"
"To me a corset is like a codfish"
Elizabeth groans in frustration. "Please. Not today"
Frustrated. Carmen looks out the window and grumbles.
"Father would have laughed"
She sees the hurt on her mother's face and instantly regrets her words.
"I'm sorry. I'm tired. I didn't sleep well last night"
Her mother smiles lightly and pats her hand in a forgiving gesture. Elizabeth removes her own jewelry from around her neck and gives it to Carmen.
"There you are. You're beautiful. Now, can you manage a smile?"
The garden party is in full swing. Everyone has turned out in their summer finery. Guest play croquet on the great lawn. Skiffs drift lazily on a meandering river.
Carmen approaches Lord and Lady Denim with a fixed unnatural smile. Lord Denim is a stately, aristocratic man. Lady Denim is red-faced with annoyance.
"At last! We thought you'd never arrive. Carmen, Alexander is waiting to dance with you" Lady Denim announces.
She pushes Carmen through and turns to Elizabeth.