The Beast

Toman grips the ax handle. Both fists go white with the tension. The veins running up and down both labor strengthened arms stand proud.

He can smell her on the air. A bouquet so familiar it reminds him of home and childhood, spicy, but sweet and a bit savory, it mixes with the creatures musk and pummels his soul.

The creature is covered in shaggy brown hair and bulky with the muscle of a forest beast. Huge twisting horns sprout from his skull. His cloven hooves bite into the soft dirt. He wears the loincloth of the Weald peoples. The ones not welcome. With one giant hand, he runs vicious black claws through her strawberry blonde hair.

His other hand is held lightly at the small of her back like she might break.

She presses her body into his.

Their lips meet. His a leathery black and hers soft like rose petals.

Oh, how he wished to have felt those lips one day.

Now with this embrace, all the meaning is ripped from his life, all intention, all hope, all happiness.

He steps out of the woods. Birds roosting in the long grass shoot into the air.

She looks, sees him and her face crumbles.

With this, he knows she might have loved him once. Maybe as friends, childhood adventurers, a familiar face, but it wasn’t enough to make her his.

Eyes, the color of a midsummer afternoon sky, dance with fear as she spots the ax shaking in his hands, “Toman don’t!”

Toman moves and because love is pain and the fire of desire that consumes to the bone, flays, vivisects, lays open the heart making it vulnerable for abuse and because she never promised him anything more than a smile, he does.

Published by Bryan Aiello

Raised on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Bryan served in the Army, graduated from the University of South Florida and now calls Brooklyn home. For more of his fiction and updates on his podcasts, follow him on Twitter: @bryaiello and Reddit: /u/voyage_of_roadkill.

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