A beast, from grace was his mind to fall,
Did not see the signs; did not heed the call,
A lone wolf indeed, but a heart there to give,
Ugly he saw himself, so alone he did live.
‘twas a fine day that gave us the hour of luck,
It began with a beauty, and the rose she would pluck...
The garden was a place many visited for a tranquil escape. The high hedges and secret passages through bushes and shrubbery provided that privacy, even at its busiest time. Catherine Jenkins had spent hours upon end here, many times before. She did not have a garden of her own, but she felt at home in this place. The caringly landscaped grounds sat in a valley between an old castle and a disused windmill. The diminished life on either side only accentuated the effervescent and irrepressible life of the garden. The glorious array of colourful flowers spread forth and blemished a portion of both ruins, but never infected them completely. Nor did they infect or overcome or dominate any other snapshot within the valley. Instead, they grew in the most unexpected places, adding merely a sprinkle of emotion to the already picturesque hills, mounds, banks, bushes and trees: an arrangement of peach coloured beauties at the foot of a tree gave it the effect of being separate from the ground, almost as if it were floating above; roses lurking out of crevices within the hillside suggested blushing cheeks; the white lilies sang a peaceful hum.
This was truly where Catherine felt she belonged. On occasion another person would wander into her spot but, seeking the same solitary experience, they would always only linger a moment before moving on. She was so comfortable here. It made her feel relaxed, tired even. She had previously been tempted to nap on the hillside where she routinely sat, and today she gave in to temptation; such was the sensuous lure of her serene surroundings. She drifted into a dream of stars and galaxies. Far off worlds that were peaceful and unaffected.
It was dark when she woke up. Too dark. Nothing gleamed or sparkled. Nothing shone to remind her of a path that would lead her home. A single rose beckoned her from a short distance away. She stood up and walked tentatively towards it, not being able to see where she was placing her feet. Utter darkness. Her eyes slowly began to get accustomed to the thorns around the rose. It seemed bright, almost like a torch. She considered plucking the rose and using it to find her way, but that was silly, wasn't it? Was she really seeing this or was it a dream? She looked back at the rose. Was it... magic?
She would, normally, never dare to remove anything from the garden, but she was afraid of this particular dark and so gave in. Seeing it as her only hope of light, she plucked the rose from its stem.
"NOOOO", a deep voice growled from the bushes. More than a little startled, Catherine froze, the rose fell from her hand and landed at her feet.
"WHY did you do that? Uggghhh", the voice continued, sounding less intimidating now and more like an exasperated child.
"I - I," she spluttered, "I- huh?"
"The rose", the voice growled again, "You plucked the rose. Why would you do that? Nothing in a garden should be plucked, don't you know that? I have a mind to pluck your fingers so you may not persist in plucking."
"No, I would never-", she tried to explain, still frozen stiff and unable to see her gruff challenger.
"-But you did."
"But I would never normally-", she stopped herself this time. Composed her quivering thoughts. She explained, "It was dark and I could not see, and the light from the rose seemed like my only chance of finding my way back."
"The light from the rose? Don't be so ridiculous. It does not shine. Are you ill, woman? You stand here in the middle of the night like some kind of plucky pirate, talking of things shining that do not shine and expect me not to assume you are demented? Either you are ill, or you are up to something."
"I am not unwell nor are my actions suspicious, if you care to understand fully," indignant now in her tone, "might I say you are the one who appears to me to be suspicious, hiding away like this. Why don't you reveal yourself?" There was silence.
"You do not want to see me. It would scare you."
"A scary voice in the bushes scares me more."
"How could you know this?", he scoffed, "Not many can bear my features and remain sane."
"Well, now you've told me I don't see how I could not bear you when I see you. I don't judge people like that. How someone looks makes no difference in my decision to accept them. So far you have at least one thing against you and one thing in your favour."
"Wh- what are those?", the voice sounded off guard now.
"Against you is the ever present fact that you hide yourself away, making me not trust you. In your favour is that we have at least one thing in common."
"And what is that?"
"Reveal yourself and I shall share it with you."
There was silence again. After a moment a shape formed from the bushes. Catherine flinched at the sight of the beast that emerged. Covered in sharp grey hairs; eyes a burning bright blue; claws at his side the size of butcher knives.
"I can see I was right", the beast said with hurt eyes, "I've surely scared you."
"Uh", the word came out as a desperate, panting sort of laugh, "give me a chance. A little unexpected maybe, I mean, it's not like you warned me you were a 7 foot tall werewolf."
"Do I seem scared now?"
"Do I also still seem ill or suspicious to you?"
The beast laughed, "No".
"What do people call you?"
"People? People call me a monster."
"Ok. What should I call you?"
"Yes, Brian. What? Is there something wrong with that name?"
"No. It's just a funny name for a werewolf ," she raised her chin, stared upward and recited, dramatically, "Brian the werewolf."
"What would be an apt name for a werewolf then?"
"I don't know. Ummmm.... Klaww! With a K maybe?"
"Yes,” she paused, “Or Brian. Brian actually doesn't sound too bad now. In fact, I'd like to rethink the whole 'Klaw' thing. Never met a werewolf before, I must be nervous."
"What is your name?"
Catherine blushed and replied, "Catherine."
"Catherine, what is it that we share in common?"
"Oh. Well, you sounded genuinely sad when I took the rose, like you care about the garden. I care about the garden too.
"Even though you took the r-"
"Even though I took the rose, yes", Catherine rolled her eyes, but smiled. She was happy to see Brian smile too.
"Can I share a secret with you Catherine?"
"I never thought you were crazy. I was being cruel. But, you see, I didn't want you to discover the magic. But you say you care about the garden and I don't know why, but I believe you." Brian stooped and picked up the rose with his claws. He slowly retracted them until the rose lay in his palm. He covered it with his fingers, making a fist.
"The roses Catherine", he said calmly before re-opening his hand, "they do shine!".