The beauty and the beast

news: The beauty and the beast

WHEN THE slant-eyed, cunningly disguised rabbit stumbled across the scorpion, lethargically dozing in the midday sun, he did not expect to survive, never mind see his future mapped out in front of him, eminating from a throbbing toe.

The scorpion merely glanced up, briefly, untroubled by the rude and clumsy interruption of the oversized furry animal, deeming it not worthy of the unsheathing of her lethal weapon. Her brownish suit of armour provided enough protection against the inoffensive creature, she mused – after all, it had been tested, honed and reinforced on the troublesome journey through life, enabling her to remain unmoved by this unexpected encounter.

The rabbit, for his part, now displaying colours somewhere between the hues of yellow and green, froze, contemplating his perilous mortality. Carefully stepping aside, heart pounding like never before, he started to sing. He was alive and his joy at this gift simply burst forth. The bushes seemed greener than only a minute ago, the prospect of a juicy carrot previously taken for granted, almost irresistibly enticing. The dormant spirit, briefly stunned, had re-awakened from a long slumber.

The scorpion, doing her very best to remain stoic and, if anything, disdainful, could not help but stay enchanted. The rabbit’s attempt at giving a half way convincing impression of a casual hop-hop-hop, forced a giggle to escape her resolutely pursed lips. Had the rabbit been courageous enough to look back as he negotiated his shambolic escape, he would have been awed by the beauty of those lips, their natural set betraying laughter lines long forgotten.

Over the next few days, the lost creature in the rabbit costume kept his eyes to the ground, alert to the possibility of another potentially fatal meeting. Yet, paradoxically, his fear left him and when he saw the scorpion again, he inexplicably smiled, as did she. They both laughed, temporarily forgetting danger.

That night, out of all the bars in the world, she crawled into his. He sang again, a haunting song laden with hurt, brimming with hope. By now, as the witching hour came and passed, the love struck pseudo rabbit began to wonder at the odd appearance of his companion. A scorpion, yes, the tail with its deadly needle, albeit almost unnoticeable, gave her guise credibility, her shape did not. On the contrary, she reminded him of his own, inner secret self. The rabbit dismissed his doubts, the carrot juice intoxicating his newly given life as vibrant and exciting, as it had only appeared in kaleidoscopic dreams.

The moon was high, the waves whispering sweet nothings, as the pair reclined an hour or so later on a not so distant beach. No one disturbed their peace as approaching dawn fuelled their passion. Armour plated dense layers, one by one, went flying, two souls soared, devoid of angst and the need for protection. A cloud passed, obscuring vision, the sun peered over the horizon, the ‘rabbit’ again a rabbit, the ‘scorpion’, a scorpion. They went home, he to his hatch, she to her lair, dreaming of what was, what is and what may yet come to pass.

It was the rabbit who began the transformation. The woolly skin, stretched over his elongated limbs, began to itch. Theirs was, after all, a different world, he thought. In one bold and uncharacteristic motion, surely capable of frightening anyone within sight, he revealed himself. The rabbit was, in fact, a ram. Beautiful curled horns swung away from his high forehead, his tail swished with delight at the rediscovered freedom, the hooves danced, involuntarily, impatiently in their willingness to charge wherever the heart decreed.

The sight took the scorpion’s breath away and filled her with delightfil foreboding. She had packed – her stay was as temporary as the disguise that had too briefly slipped. Leaving the bucking ram behind to chaff his horns forlornly on the nearest tree, she returned to her very own, carefully fenced off pasture. Only there, safely installed, did she discard her costume, entering her world once more, a goat – not just any shaggy ordinary runt of the litter matured kid, but the most beautiful, vivacious and humorous goat in the whole wide world. She was that perfect, sable haired fleet footed Aphrodite of her species that the reincarnated ram had caught brief glimpses of at night. But ram or rabbit, reality or dreams, certain truths remained. She had flown, he remained.

The moral of the fable? Paradise does not fall into your lap – its attainment requires continuous understanding, patience, altruism and above all kindness. The trust of a goat is not gained by holding out a piece of sugar on your cleft hoof. To a fellow creature wise in the ways of the herd, a hoof can kick as well as be the source of love. Rabbits can appear as rams or even wolves. The sting of a scorpion is similarly not exclusive to that particular animal, nor is it always deadly. That is a common misperception. In fact, most scorpion stings are no more painful than that of a bee. They all have something in common however – they are issued without malice and are merely a reflex triggered in self-defence.

Life can be a harsh teacher – we, rams, goats, rabbits, scorpions and wolves, have all been hurt at one point or another in our lives. Surviving, retaining the ability to laugh and love again make up the secret of continuing as healthy, positive members of our race. This does not preclude that we take more care of our hearts and souls as we get older and, being more experienced, look long and hard at those intent on gaining our trust, putting up walls in many shapes and sizes. However, there must come a time for these to fall – in weeks, months or years. Any other road leads to insanity.