Thursday, June 15, 2017

Short Story: Mask

I walk out the front door, but before I close it behind me, I stop and turn around. I gaze in the direction of my living room, and after a moment of deliberation, I decide to go back inside. I move towards my coffee table and when I stand in front of it, I grab the mask lying on it. I look at it with admiration. This is one of my finest works, if I may say so myself. I've been perfecting it ever since I was a small child.

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I touch the one-in-a-million smile and see the sparkling eyes. It's always strange when I study it. Although it looks a lot like me, looking at it still gives me goosebumps. There's something unsettling about it, but I haven't figured out what it is yet. I check my phone, and see I really need to get going. In a split second, I decide to put the mask on. And I must say, it feels like a relief. There's no need to force a smile anymore, my mask will do that for me. I don't have to be afraid of anyone getting too close now. I now have my armor on, ready to take on the world. This feels safe. After all, I've been perfecting this ever since I was a small child.

She's sitting opposite me, trying to read me. I'm busy adjusting my mask, so that the smile is in perfect alignment with my own mouth and its sparkling eyes cover my teary ones. Yes, I think it's good now. I think I look okay now. I'm amazed she doesn't see through it. Maybe I’m even a bit proud. All this hard work paid off. No, Fenna will not be vulnerable, thank you very much. But a bit further along in our conversation, I feel frustration coming up. I’m beginning to wonder; this mask can't be that good, right? I look at her. She doesn't see me. I ask her if she can hear me. No answer. I cry. No response. I'm getting desperate and a bit anxious. She should at the very least be aware that I'm wearing this mask, right? But then I remember how uncanny this thing is. I've been perfecting it ever since I was a small child.

I'm home again and stand in front of the mirror. I take a closer look at my mask. This isn't me. I'm afraid to take it off, afraid of what I'm going to find underneath. I sigh deeply and slowly remove it from my face. I look down, afraid of meeting my own gaze. Come on, I should be able to look at myself! When I’ve finally found the courage to meet my eyes in the mirror, I see an endless flow of tears running down my cheeks. My lips are trembling. I have never felt so alone. How can I expect anyone to help me, if I hide away? I wish she could have seen behind the mask. But what did I expect? I've been perfecting it ever since I was a small child.

Written by: Fenna Vlekke
Country: The Netherlands
Social media:
Twitter: @FennaVlekke

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