In the Pages of a Book – Chapter 5
This story is part of a collaborative series. You can start reading from the beginning here.
Chapter 5 – Roy’s Story
That damn book had ruined his life, and he would destroy it if it was the last thing he did. Something that book had said convinced his wife to leave him. And started the ripple effects that caused his life to fall apart: the embarrassment he felt when the neighbors asked after his wife and word spread that she left him, HIM; his name being tarnished in court; losing his job because of that fucking restraining order.
If not for that order, he could have convinced Janette to come home; he was sure of it. But for three excruciatingly long years, he couldn’t have contact with his wife. He couldn’t do the things that normally worked: apologize, bring her favorite flowers, take her to dinner, make her see that he had just lost his temper because he expected better of HIS wife, and tell her that no one else would love her as he loved her.
She had threatened to leave in the past, and that damn book was the only reason she had followed through this time. He had seen the moment she’d finished that book on the camera he’d placed in her office, how her face had changed, set as if she was ready to face something difficult. He’d never seen that look on her face, where before only weakness had resided. He needed to know the words that had turned her against him. Then he could make everything right.
Roy waited until long after Janette closed up the bookstore. The sliver of a moon left the night dark enough for his work. He broke in through the side door to the shop and went right to the back office. He had expected the book to be locked away in a safe, but it was right there on top of her desk. He chuckled. Everything was going smoothly.
He bundled the book safely inside his black jacket; he didn’t want anything happening to it before he read it. He snuck back into the alleyway and made his way to his car to return home.
As soon as he arrived, he cracked open the damn book and began to read. The tale was of a dashingly handsome prince with a heart as cold as ice. The people loved their prince. As they should, Roy thought. He gave great speeches and presented a regal appearance. He charmed the people easily. But once he closed the door to the castle he was cruel to his family and servants.
They belong to him, why shouldn’t the prince do as he pleased? They seemed quite incompetent staff.
One day, one of the staff tried to tell of the true nature of the prince, but no one believed her. Well, no one except the Witch of the Woods. She could see the true heart of a person, and she saw the prince had a frozen one that would not be thawed. So the Witch of the Woods cursed the prince. By the next full moon, the people would see what she saw.
The next morning, the prince awoke with long pointy canine teeth. They did not bother him much; in fact, he thought they made his smile more charming. A week later he awoke with long sharpened nails, almost claws. The prince cut them, but they regrew each morning. The following week his back became hunched and his arms seemed longer. The prince tried his best to stand as straight as possible, though it was painful, and kept his arms clasped behind his back when in public. In another week, he started growing fur. The prince began avoiding the people then.
He sent one of his servants to find the Witch of the Woods and paced the halls until she arrived. “I command you to remove this curse from me,” the prince told the witch.
“It is as simple as changing your heart,” she responded.
But the prince could not do it, for he was fully a monster now.
Roy slammed the book shut. A monster?! The witch was a monster. The prince did not deserve what had been done to him.
Is this what the book had done? Convinced Janette that he was a monster that could not be changed? He was enraged. He wanted to tear the book to pieces, but he wanted Janette to see him do it. Then maybe the book would lose its power over her. She would see it was just paper and ink. Its words did not matter.
Roy waited until just before the shop closed, making sure Janette was alone. As he entered, she turned to face him. She looked afraid. That damned book had made her afraid of him, her own husband. He held up the old leather-bound volume.
“This is why you left me?” he hissed out. “This book told you that I was a monster, and you believed it? Over your own husband?” Roy flung open the book. “These words are li–” He froze. There were no words in the book. He began flipping through the pages, desperately. He looked up at Janette. “What is this sorcery?”
“You didn’t know it was magic?” she asked with a light laugh. “The book never told me you were a monster, Roy. The story was different for me. It told me that I was strong and brave, that I was worthy of love and respect. It was only once I realized who I was that I realized I deserved better than you; that I realized that what you offered me wasn’t real love.” She took a step towards him, raising her voice. “Love does not cause intentional harm. Love does not leave bruises. Love…” She paused and lifted her eyes to look behind him. “Love is only angry when it seeks to protect you from harm. Love feels your hurt, instead of causing it. Love builds you up.”
Roy spun around to where Janette was gazing so intently. He saw another man there, the one who had been in the shop lately. A fury filled him, and he launched himself at the man, tackling him to the ground. The book spun away, forgotten.
Just then, a policeman rushed through the door and pulled him off of the man. “You’re under arrest.”
“You did this on purpose,” he yelled out. “You set me up!”
“You did this to yourself,” she answered. “I’m done with you, Roy. I’ve moved on.”
Roy couldn’t have heard anything worse.
What did you think of Chapter 5? Have you enjoyed this collaborative story? Let us know in the comments below, and check back next week for the conclusion.
Thanks so much for reading!
Clever & WTF