A Beastly Craving

May 1, 2023

I transform into a beast in the eyes of desire.

When we’re told not to do something, human nature drives our curiosity, leading us to want to do that thing even more — even if we never wanted to in the first place.

Temptation. It’s a dangerous thing. And when there’s a craving begging to be satisfied, it’s nearly impossible to ignore. A friend, a boy, a place, a drug — when it’s off limits, it’s all the more inviting.

We want the rush to last forever.

I know inside that I shouldn't be giving in so easily, but this feeling is primal. My moral compass dissipates and I’m an entirely different entity — my fangs grow sharp, my nails turn to claws, my eyes gloss over. I feel the beast returning.

I rip through every bit of my identity until I’m unrecognizable. I race toward temptation like a starved wolf. I don't care who or what I take down en route to fulfilling my needs. This desire is my prey; this hunger must be satisfied.

I run fast, increasing speed till I’m on all fours. Once the transformation is complete, I have shed all innocence, all emotion — everything that made me human is gone.

I clutch my prey, mouth watering with anticipation. In the second before I sink my teeth deep, a moment of clarity ensues.

“What am I doing?”

My prey is frail, undeveloped, and naive to the darkness of the world.

Was I really about to end a life that hasn't yet lived? I fall ill with that thought.

“Who am I?”

This thick skin that I’ve grown is uncomfortable and unfamiliar.

“What was I before? What will become of me now?”

The tips of my fangs reach the very thing I have given up all sensibilities for.

“Is this… it?”

Everything around me ignites in flames.

My eyes reflect orange and golden-yellow hues as the flames roar high, stretching out to me like arms.

The heat, though suffocating, cannot distract me from the sensation that my prey, laid across my arms, awaiting its consumption, has become remarkably lighter.

I peer down and hazily recognize a complexion all too familiar: a girl, young and dainty, with cheeks plump and rosy like they’ve been incessantly pinched.

Her button nose and olive skin radiate nostalgia, like the first flower of spring – new, pure, vibrant with life. She naps peacefully, completely untouched by the hellish reality that I’ve constructed around her. Her short chestnut hair brushes softly against my arm as she nestles herself further into my beastly skin. A feeling of warmth courses through my veins.

I know this girl.

This girl is me.

I carry her in my arms, always. Her weight is ever-present.

She was right here all along — to remind me who I am hurting when I indulge in my cravings, to tamp down the shame that ignites inside me like ravenous flames.

Those flames burned everyone I love.

And there she was, watching me transform into something she could never imagine.

Her innocence is untouched, her ignorance sublime; the fantastical lens through which she sees the world is still intact.

“I can still save her.”

I close my mouth to hide my fangs and draw her closer into my arms to protect her.

Choking on the thick smoke, I struggle to stand on two feet. Though I’m weak, I run with every bit of hope I have left.

The flaming hands grab at my thick, beastly skin and I wince.

I have not lost hope. I can see the other side.

“Almost there,” I assure her. “I promise I won't let this happen again. Please forgive me.”

As I take the final stride out from the flaming hands of hell I stumble, trip, and fall. Everything goes black.

My eyes peel open and my reflection stares back at me — my small, dainty, buttoned-nosed self with olive skin.

I am her and she is me.

I will always be her.

I must treat her with love, compassion, respect, and acceptance. I must ferociously guard her with the same hunger that drove me to hunt my prey.

Temptation. It’s a dangerous thing. And when there’s a craving begging to be satisfied, it’s nearly impossible to ignore. But my curiosity didn’t just kill the cat: it killed my identity, my morals, and the purity that glows inside me like gold.

I see now that there must be a balance. Between the beast and the delicate flower I once was.

The beast is a mask I wear to disguise myself from myself. It allows me to be numb, to not accept my behavior as my own.

Her innocence, her ignorance, her delicate little features; though these qualities I admire – and envy, even – they too make her weak, vulnerable.

I have grown strong, adopted a thick, beastly skin. I haven’t had a choice. I am resilient and seasoned. I had lost sight of why I became the beast in the first place, why I moved through life so epically belligerent.

I was prepared to lose everyone and everything, disgusting them with my foul stench, making them scream in terror at the sight of my sharp fangs and bloodthirsty eyes. This was the only way I could feel in control of my ostracization from the world.

But now, as I stare back at the girl in my arms, I remember that it was all for her. ■

Videographer: Belton Gaar
Model: Tyler Kubeka
Stylist: Marianna Aguirre
HMUA: Claire Philpot

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