Beautiful Beast

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([This is a short story from 'Hallucinatory Tribulation Vol 1.' You can get all the stories shared here plus more by purchasing the book on Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Nook, Books-a-Million, or Smashwords!)]


"I'm fine."

It was the fifth time that day he had spoken the same lie and it was barely even two o'clock. The man had taken a late lunch in order to spend time with his family before seeing them off for their trip. His daughter had won the county's spelling bee and therefore had been invited to compete at the state level which was a six hour drive from where they lived. The plan was to leave the day prior and spend the night rather than be exhausted the day of the event.

"I wish you could go with us," the little girl of ten years smiled at her dad.

"I know," he sighed, taking the last step off the stairs and setting the suitcase down at the door, "But I have too much to get caught up on. Don't worry," he turned to the child, "You'll do great."

"Of course she will," her mother agreed, softly caressing the girl's hair, "Are you sure you're alright, dear? You seem preoccupied."

"It's just work on my mind," her husband altered his usual fib, "You two go on before it gets too late."

"Alright," she continued to smile, turning to look down at her daughter, "Go on and take your bag to the car. I'll be there in just a sec."

The girl swiftly obeyed, but not before sprinting over to her father and stealing a hug whilst sticking one of her favorite bows in his hair. It was a tradition they had observed since she could talk. She'd wear one of the bows in the set and he'd hold onto the other, the pair connecting the two while they were separated. The man readily reciprocated the embrace until his gaze caught on his wife...then his motions became rigid and awkward, prompting him to quickly rise and send the child on her way. Once the front door had closed gently behind, the woman approached her husband, pecking him on his cheek though her touch held no warmth.

"I'm proud of you for resisting these urges of yours," she offered a supportive yet weak smile.

He gave an equally small grin and nodded, wishing her well on the trip while keeping with his reserved and proper demeanor. Stepping outside, he watched as the two loaded into the vehicle, his daughter hanging out of the window and waving excitedly as her mom pulled out of the drive and carried on down the road.

He stood there, eyes fixed on the sedan until it had turned the final edge of the block, putting it out of his view. His gaze lingered on the spot a moment before scanning the rest of the neighborhood. There was a lady from a few houses down on her typical jog before work, someone across the street was mowing the lawn, and the thrilled laughter of a group of kids could be heard in the distance. It was a normal day. Everything was normal. He could be normal too...

With a heavy breath, the man twisted around and returned indoors. He should probably head back to work. Fill out all those papers and sort them into their appropriate files. So tedious and yet necessary. A lot of things about life were that way, weren't they? Little things you really didn't want to do, but knew you had to to keep things running smoothly? Casual conversation about topics you had no care for in order to make it all look the way it was supposed to...wearing the right clothes, acting the right way... Just keep everyone around you happy, give them what they want. Maybe eventually it would make you happy too.

Clomping up the stairs, he decided he would return to the office. He could use any sort of distraction he could get to keep him from these...urges, as his wife so lovingly put it. He remembered the day they met, the day he'd found out he was a father. They were the happiest of his life, moments he wouldn't trade for anything. But he wondered...

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