“When I was younger my mom insisted that I wear a mask. Since I was little I had never really known a time without it on. I would remove the porcelain coated mask during bath-time so I could wash, but before I left the tub I was made to put back on, even when we had family over. Mom said there was something different about me that people wouldn't understand. I trusted her.
I didn't mind it really. It was a very nice mask. Clean and bright. The other kids though would make fun of me and say that my mom thought I was too ugly to walk around otherwise. I wanted to take off the mask to prove them wrong but it was fastened on tight with clasps, wires, and single lock. Only my mom had the key. So I would play by myself during recess, building castles in the dirt or playing with the dolls my mom would make me.
My teachers tried to do what they could to help me make friends, but it was never enough.
Over time though some of the kids began being nice to me. Shirley was the nicest of all of them, and for the first time in my life I had a real friend. My mom didn't like it at first. She said the it was too much of a risk. But as time passed she got used to it. It was the happiest I had ever been, and sometimes my mom would even let me go over to her house, though if I stayed for dinner her parents had to specially prepare the food for me.
Mostly liquids, fed through the small slit in the mask.
One day it started to rain. It was the day I found out that Shirley was going to move away. Her family and mine had grown close, and they promised they would keep in touch. But they didn't. And so I was forced to face the prospect of going to middle school without my best friend.
The first day of school went as I expected. There were tons of questions, but mostly there were the insults. But as time passed the insults just weren't enough. About a week into the school year, I was outside by the basketball court, reading as I often would. Some boys came up to me and started to insult me. They called me stupid. They said that my mom must really hate me to make me wear the mask all the time. That set me off and I yelled back, trying to defend my mother. Then one of the boys came forward and grabbed the mask.
he next thing I knew he was one the ground and I was hitting him over and over, screaming. He started screaming too, and that only made me scream louder. A teacher soon arrived and pulled me off of him. She pulled me along quickly, but I got to look at him all the same. He was crying.
I felt like a monster. I felt awful. And when I was given detention I was actually happy. I deserved to be punished for what I did.
After detention that day I headed home, but I had this feeling that I was being followed. About a block from my home I could see the group of boys coming up to me. The boy I had hurt was with them, and they had wire cutters in their hands. I ran as fast as I could, just hoping I would get home before they caught me. But I was never all that fast.
I was almost to my front door when they caught me. They grabbed my hair and pulled me to the ground. I tried to fight back, but two of them pinned my arms with their knees, putting all their weight on them. And then the boy, the one I had hurt, began to cut the wires that held my mask in place. Try as I might I couldn't turn my head to hide the clasps. I started to cry as I felt the heavy jerk as he began to work on them. Then at last the last clasp was undone, and they grabbed a rock and smashed the lock. And then they removed my mask.
The injured boy looked down and was silent. Then he started to cry out. The front door swung open as a long fingered hand reached out and grabbed the boy, dragging him inside. The other boys screamed too and ran away, their feet pattering on the wood steps. I heard whispering coming from inside the house. For nearly thirty seconds I lay there, looking at the front door. Then the boy emerged, pale and quiet. He looked at me and slowly walked away until he was out of sight. The boy never bothered me again
My mom emerged from the house. She looked so concerned. Then she reached down and held me close. She checked me over, and then she spoke.
“Its okay dear,” she said sweetly. “I've got you.”
Her jaw split down the middle, her lips tightening as the skin on her face was pulled taut. She rolled her eyes wildly, blood dripping from her tear ducts. And though she looked monstrous, I could see through all of it that she was smiling. She was relieved. Because I hadn't been hurt. Because I was safe. Because I looked like her.
Because I look beautiful.”
Below the previous piece was a note. The piece itself was sent from a location on Wellington Street that by all rights doesn't exist.
“It saddens me that I am writing you. I have spent years trying to let go of the person I cared for. I can admit that I still haven't recovered. So I repeat that it saddens me that I am writing to you. I had imagined that I would never have to, that six months ago you had made the wise decision to stop. But you have come back to this place, and I am scared that you are too confident in your ability to manage it. Some of us can. But many of us, those who are damaged...we are rarely so lucky.”
It rained today. It has been raining all week. I miss my kids.