Under a facade, I walked down the street and I saw a million people in a million masks… they would change their masks so often, I was unable to keep up in identifying who was who. I did not want to stand out like a sore thumb, but the mask I had tried on was uncomfortable, so I held it in my hand ready to hide my face behind it whenever someone approached.
There was a blue corridor where I walked at a leisurely pace, fascinated by the beauty of this masquerade I’d come to. The big shiny disco ball, made the light bounce off the silverware and the shimmering masks. It was like a dream come true, so far from reality.
The women wore lovely dresses and sat with their backs straight. When they laughed, it was as if sparkling wine was being poured into crystal. The men, they were dashing, or so I wistfully assumed since that I hadn’t seen them behind their masks and elaborate costumes. They held the doors for the ladies and sang in a baritone I’d only heard on the radio.
Amidst the chatter and clinking of glasses, I was lost, rapt in the music.. the headiness of the place intoxicating me. I made a friend. Then a few more. But it was a masquerade.. I hadn’t see their faces, and hadn’t shown them mine. The element of anonymity was welcome, different…
I spent three days at that party.
The mask no longer itched. I was one with the crowd. I did not stand out. I was ‘accepted’. Someone commented how my dress had a worn out look to it. I was instantly embarrassed and grateful that the mask was in place. No one would know. I laughed it off with a witty remark and the whole crowd erupted in appreciative laughter. I was proud I was so witty, grateful that the mask was in place, so that the pride did not show. We played games which were fun. Someone won, some lost. But everyone would win at one game or another. Losing, hence did not matter.
The party finally came to an end.
At the exit, there was a table with a mirror. Most guests were leaving with the masks, but I wanted to take mine off… I was dying to have some fresh breeze on my face. I looked into the mirror, the mask was so pretty with shimmer and shine.. I was almost sad to take it off. My right hand played with the texture of the beautiful art I had on me, as I moved to remove it.
It wouldn’t come off.
I pried and pulled at it. But it was stuck as the skin on my bones. But I had made up my mind. It would come off. And it eventually did. Relieved, I looked into the mirror and stared in horror.
I had another mask on.
I hadn’t put it there.
I took it off.
But there was another.
An old lady, kindly put a sympathetic hand on my shoulder. ‘It’s futile, darling, you can never go back.. the masquerade is alluring but the price is that you’ll have to always wear a mask hereon’ I didn’t like her unsolicited comment, and frowned, grateful that the mask was in place, so that the scowl did not show.
I walked out, unhappily, realizing that I was trapped because of my own foolish choice to fit in, grateful that the mask was in place, so that the regret did not show.