Theatre Masks


Theater Masks Silhouette.png

(Credit: Elizabeth J. Aragon,

Can we change masks now?

I am getting tired of crying, and I think the wrinkles in the brow are making furrows in my brain.

You promised me that they were only masks and that they would not change who we really are. But during the days which turned to weeks which turned to months, my face seems to have been ever better moulded to fit this grotesque façade, and I worry that time will turn these foreign features to stone.

So give me your smile.

Surely, it is my turn to be the happy one by now.





It is Just a Mask

just a mask

It’s just a mask.

It’s just a mask you see.

It’s not me.

It’s my façade towards the world,

And it works just fine

Most of the time.

I hate when they say that my personality is only skin deep.

Then I want to rip the mask off and toss it far out to sea.

But then I’m afraid that the face underneath is too different.

Then I’m afraid it’s identical.

Then I’m afraid that the face underneath is just another mask,

And the face beneath it

Is blank.

20 Fortitude

I hear them whispering in class. It is about me. But I am wearing my mask. When the bell rings I pack my things slowly. I know they will wait for me. When I get outside, they are not in the schoolyard. For a while I wonder if they got tired of waiting, but as I go through the school gate I see them. All four. One of them is leaning against a tree. Another lights a cigarette. They are all smiling. I turn my head down, check that my mask is firmly in place. It seems secure.

They wait for me. I once tried to cross the street, but they just followed. This time it will be different. I have my mask. Harry steps out in front of me.

‘Got any money on you today?’ he says, ‘did your dear mommy give you any? Or haven’t she had enough customers lately?’

The others laugh.

‘Now that her tits are getting all saggy,’ says Peter, ‘she can’t be getting much.’

They all laugh again. My mask is still in place.

‘Come on then,’ says Harry, ‘hand it over.’

I swallow, but my face does not even twitch and I stand still.

‘I said hand it over!’ Harry pushes me. I stumble backwards. Harry pushes me harder. My elbow strikes against the pavement and the lower part of my arm goes numb. At least my mask is not damaged.

‘Why is he so quiet?’ Theo says to Peter. I do not let myself smile.

‘I don’t care,’ says Peter, ‘just take it from him.’

Harry rips away my rucksack. I sit up, but I do not resist. He zips the rucksack open and thrusts his hand inside. He draws back his hand with a cry. There is blood on his fingers. My mask is etched in stone.

‘What the-’ says Peter.

‘My hand!’ says Harry. Peter grabs the rucksack and looks inside. He takes out the knife. Holding it properly. I stand up.

‘What did you think to do with this,’ says Peter, ‘you sick fuck. Did you think you’d kill us?’

I throw myself at him, grabbing the hand with the knife and forcing it towards him. I only scratch him a bit through his t-shirt. He is stronger than me, but I already knew that. I am not surprised when the knife pieces first my arm and then my side. And my mask does not crack. But I can see the fear in Peter’s eyes as the blood seeps into my jumper. I fall to my knees. Peter drops the knife and I allow myself to smile a little.

‘You’re fucking mad!’ says Peter. Harry whimpers over his hand. Then they run. My fingers are clumsy, but they can still dial 911 on my phone. And I can still give them the address. And a few names. Then I let myself fall back. I might convince them that it was attempted murder. Then I let my mask crumble.

11 Memory 1 of 2

Something large and hairy. No, that’s not right. It was fuzzy. A large teddy bear, yes, that was it, I remember now. A teddy bear that hugged me tighter and tighter and then everything went black. It sounds crazy, I know, but I’m sure it happened. It must have, how could I have ended up here otherwise?

Before that, I was at the carnival. I had this white mask on with a long long nose which was red at the end. Like the mask was drunk or had a cold.

No, I was not drunk. I think. I had not drunk very much. Of course, I was in a good mood, everybody was. There was music and dancing. I had forgotten my earplugs so it was much too loud. When I drifted too close to a music wagon, I felt like my eardrums would explode. So I ran. Away from the noise. Into a deserted alley.

While I rested my hand against the wall, getting my breath back, I noticed a woman in a rabbit costume. She went right past me and at the end of the alley she opened a door and disappeared through it. She left it ajar.

I glanced down the way she had come. No one was following her. My legs went to the door of their own accord and I looked inside. There were steps. Leading down. A naked bulb lit them where they turned.

I gave the alley one last furtive glance before I stepped inside, leaving the door like she had. I took a few steps down and looked over the banister. She was gone. She must have gone down the stairs pretty quickly to be gone already. There was a small click behind me. I turned. The door had closed.

I rushed back up. No matter how hard I pushed or tugged, the door would not open. I dared not bang at the door, because I might be accused of breaking an entrance. The light blinked and the stairs were plunged into darkness. For what felt like an eternity I stood there in the dark with my back to the door.

In the end I made up my mind. I could not just stay there. I groped for the banisters and made my way down, step by careful step. At the first turn I felt the walls, but there were no doors and not even any light switches.

It became colder as I descended. Or maybe, I just imagined it. It was strange to think that only moments ago I was outside in bright sunshine. I am not sure how far I went down. I began counting the turns. After a while I gave it up.

It became very damp and I heard a dripping from somewhere beneath me. It became steadily louder. I took a step down and stumbled. My foot was stopped by cold stone and the banister ended. The dripping was now in front of me.

I squinted into the darkness and there far ahead was a dim light. I felt the floor in front of me with my foot. It seemed to be level. Reaching out to one side I found the wall, cold and slimy. I retracted my hand. The slime was still sticking to my fingers, gooey but odourless. I wrinkled my nose and dried it off in my trousers, hoping it would not leave a stain.

Then I went towards the light.

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