Friday, November 15, 2013

The Mask: A Short Story

The mask lay on her dressing table. It was beautiful by the standards of the townsfolk, covered in bright colours and radiated joy and happiness. Reluctantly, she stared at herself in the mirror. Her heart ached and her eyes shone with tears and hidden pain. Every flaw in her life stared at her and she shuddered with repulsion at the ugliness underneath. She touched the mask and slipped it on her face, hiding every emotion deep within her. She gave a false smile and walked into the town as if she were as carefree and as joyful as her mask portrayed. Around her, people went about their daily jobs and duties, smiling behind their masks. The painted colours displayed beauty and perfection; these people clearly had everything they desired and were pleased in what and who they were. But she felt dirty and fake. She smiled at her friends and family, but inside her, beneath the mask, she wept. Her heart was empty and she had no where to run. No one to turn to. Then a young man caught her eye. He had no mask, and his simple smile was warm and genuine. His face was plain in comparison to the vibrant colours of the masks around him, but she saw something about him that was truly beautiful. Then he turned and looked at her. Their eyes met, and she looked away, ashamed, for she felt his gaze boring into her. She knew he saw the emptiness behind her mask and was afraid. But her fascination in him drew her closer. He still stared at her with loving eyes, and she knew he was not someone to fear. Timidly, she made her was across the street toward him. A crowd had formed around the young man and was listening to him speak. His voice, tender but strong, pulsed through her. He spoke of things unheard of in her town. He spoke of freedom and forgiveness, of life without a mask. The townsfolk scoffed at his words and moved away, but she stayed, alone with the man. Suddenly she was shy, and tried to move with the crowd. Then a gentle hand touched her arm, stopping her. It was the man. She stared at his hands, for on his wrists were two scars. He taught her about life without a mask. A life without pain or heartache. A life free from the ugliness that haunted her. Tears filled her eyes and rolled down her face under her mask. Gently, the man reached behind her hair and removed it. She quickly covered her face with her hands; afraid he might see and know the truth. But he only smiled. Slowly, ever so slowly, she took her hands away, revealing her true self. His eyes stared with forgiveness and love into her own eyes, eyes filled with sadness. He whispered two words to her. Two simple words that made all the difference to her. She felt as if a weight had been lifted from her, and her heart was no longer empty and she no longer felt pain, but peace. She smiled, not falsely this time, but truly smiled. He reached out one of his scarred hands, and in it was her mask, now appearing dull and shabby. She took it from him, and with one last look, left. He had seen her for what she truly was under her mask. He had shared her pain and he had healed her broken heart. He had forgiven her. She put her mask away and never wore it again. Never again, because he had called her beautiful.