Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Masks

Susan walked down the street, her face covered with a mask. In fact, everyone’s faces were covered with masks. No one could see who they were or what they looked like. Everyone wore a mask. It was a part of life.
Susan scratched the skin behind her mask; she did not like wearing it, especially in the hot sun. But it was uncivilized to take them off. Ever.
The wearing of masks began sometime after World War III, people were afraid to show their faces, in fear that people would not accept them for who they were. They had to pretend to be someone else in order to be accepted. No one was good enough; everyone had to hide from the world and pretend to be someone else.
Susan wandered around the town and picked up some bananas at the supermarket. She walked over to the counter and looked beside her and saw a young boy whose skin was painted red and he had a long paper stem on the top of his head.
“What a darling little boy,” said the clerk to the little boy’s mother, a pale woman with short brown hair.
“Oh, he’s not a boy,” the mother replied. “He’s an apple. He decided to become an apple when he was five. It’s very natural.”
“Oh, I see,” said the clerk without giving it a second thought.
Susan brought her bananas up to the clerk who smiled, or she thought she smiled. She couldn’t really tell because her face was mostly hidden by her mask.
“Good afternoon,” said the clerk.
“If you say so,” Susan grumbled, scratching her mask-covered face again.
“Is something the matter?”
“It’s just that this mask is so horribly itchy,” she replied irately. “I wish I could take it off.”
The clerk looked at Susan, appalled. “But then people will see…who you really are.”
She blinked at her, only the clerk didn’t know that. She had said the words as you would for a curse you were afraid to say aloud. Susan thought about asking her what would be so wrong with that, but she decided against it. She took her bananas, which were now in a plastic bag, and left the store.
Susan walked down the street, clutching her bananas in her hand when she heard a small whimper beside her. She looked to her left and saw a little boy wearing a white tattered mask, from what she could see of his face, she saw that he had dark skin, very, very dark. He was crying, begging for money. She saw people look at him sadly and they would do nothing else it was as if giving him their thoughts or sympathetic looks was equal to a meal. But they just walked on, without giving the little boy another thought. Susan walked up to the boy and handed him three dollars, he smiled at her.
“What’s your name?” she asked him.
“Africa,” he replied.
“That’s a beautiful name.”
“You think so?”
“I do.”
“Thank you, ma’am,” said the little boy, smiling brightly.
She smiled back before walking on.
As she walked down the road, she headed down an empty alley. Beside the opening of the alley there was a blank yellow sign. There were no words or markings on the sign; it just stood there, looking down at her intently as if it knew something she didn’t. She glanced at it before quickly looking away. She then proceeded down the alley. She gasped when she saw someone walking next to her, but when she looked to see who it was, she realized it was herself looking back at her. It was a mirror. She was about to walk on, which, in fact, she probably should have done but instead she cocked her head and stared at her face. Or, at least, what she could see of her face. She had never seen her entire face before, in fact, no one had ever seen her real face before and no one wished too. She had never even seen a mirror since she was about seven years old. Mirrors were banned from every home in the country in an attempt to keep anyone from looking at themselves. She had been taught by her well-meaning parents that no one was to take off their mask unless they wanted to be humiliated. It was a common practice, one that everyone did and no one thought was out of the ordinary. It was like running around a supermarket in only your under garments or swearing at a small child, it just wasn’t done—unless you were completely uncivilized. It was taboo.
Suddenly, Susan did something that she had never done before. She took off her mask and looked at herself. She had very sharp features, a pale face and deep auburn hair, in fact, she was quite attractive. Even still, she would not be accepted into society if she did not hide her face, she had to pretend to be someone she was not. It was a part of being normal, well-behaved members of society.
Suddenly, she heard someone scream.
Susan looked up to see an elderly woman wearing a blue mask drop her grocery bag and scream at the top of her lungs.
Susan quickly looked around in an attempt to find her mask; she saw it fly away in the wind toward the busy street. Her already pale face became even paler. After dropping her bananas on the ground, she ran after her mask and found herself surrounded by people who began screaming and howling in horror.
“Someone call the police!” the woman with an apple as a son wailed.
Susan began to run after her mask when she felt someone grab her arm. It was a tall man who was wearing a white mask which covered his entire face except for his eyes and mouth. He smacked her in the face.
“What’s wrong with you, girl?” the man asked angrily.
“I dropped my mask,” she whimpered.
“She only could have dropped it if she already took it off!” a young woman yelled and the others agreed.
“I…I just wanted to see what I looked like,” Susan replied, tears running down her pale face.
The man smacked her again and now blood was running down from her nose. She cried.
“You sinful girl!” a woman cried as she hurled a stone at Susan’s body, it hit her in the leg. “How dare you show your face!”
“You could offend someone!” the woman with the apple son cried, horrified.
“I’ll put my mask back on—I just have to find it—”
Another rock was hurled at her body, this time it hit her neck. She screamed in pain.
“I found her mask,” a young man came running up toward her and handed it to her.
Susan quickly put on the mask and the man dropped her. She fell onto the ground with a sickening thud. The crowd soon began to disperse and everyone muttered fowl comments as they walked away, a few of them even spat on her. Susan stood up; blood mixed with the tears as they fell down her face, but of course no one could see the blood now. She brushed herself off and fixed her mask, wondering what kind of a world she lived in.

5 comments:

Mariah said...

I just found you, Lyssa! I haven't had time to read any of your stories or poems yet, but I hope I can soon! Love you! <3

Mariah said...

I read this yesterday...it was really good! Great job, Lyssa!

Kayla said...

Hi Lyssa! This is Kayla Courson.....I'm friends with you on facebook. I saw that you had posted this blog and I wanted to read it. I think you are an amazing writer! I think it's awesome that you write to glorify God! Reading your stories makes me want to write now and start my own blog! Thanks for sharing this! <3

Kayla Courson said...

I love it! You're amazing! <3

Bethany said...

This is a very well-written, beautiful yet sad story, Lyssa. I just saw this and I've never read any of your stuff before, but I am moved by your writing--it is very good. This reminds me of an old old episode of The Twilight Zone called "The Eye of the Beholder"--of course it's not the same story, but it has a similar message. Keep up the writing... it is wonderful!