The Mask becomes You
By Carefully Random
“Wow, lotta dust on this one” I say, brushing the lid of the box and instantly turning the color of my palm from pasty white to musty grey.
“Ohhh, costumes!” Stacy chirps as she leans over my shoulder and reads the writing my hand has uncovered.
More excited than I’m willing to let on to Stacy, I open up the box and start pulling out colorful robes and layers of fabric held together with dozens of safety pins. Stacy starts picking some up and holding them against herself, while I keep rummaging, wanting to see all there is on offer before I join in the dress up game that I just know is about to happen.
“Was there a drama club or something?” I ask.
“Someone told me there was one a few years ago, but it folded. Don’t know why, you’d think there’d be interest in one with all the drama queens at this place.”
‘This place’ is Doctrina University. It’s ranked something like 4th in the state, and isn’t a particularly renowned institution, but you go where circumstances allow and I’ve survived two years here so far without any major fuckups, so there’s that.
“Yeah, that’s weird” I agree, “I wonder what- Ohhhhh.” I suddenly inhale, distracted by what I was now lifting out of the box. Lilac feathers surround a sparkling fuchsia border of a powerfully purple mask of beauty. It would cover your whole face from the nose up, apart from your glitter framed eyes obviously, and leave flowing hair and luscious lips to complete the head of what must have been an incredible costume. It’s made of light but sturdy wood, and looks more like a master craft shop item than a cheap prop for a low budget production. It seems so out of place in this dusty abandoned storeroom.
“Oh, so pretty! Mine!” Stacy yelled as she snatches it from my hands. I had been too mesmerized by it to stop her, but my focus comes back immediately and I leap to my feet to confront her.
“Hey!” I complain, “I was looking at that.”
Stacy ignores me though, she’s too busy reading something on the back of the mask.
“‘Carsukaila, Queen of the Mystics, who’s words cannot be resisted’. How cheesy” Stacy grins before putting the mask on. I wait patiently, knowing I would get it back off her once she inevitably gets bored of it.
Stacy finishes donning the mask and as much as I planned to make a sarcastic comment, I can’t. All I can do is gape in awe; she looks stunning. Her eyes seem to draw me in like never before, like the mask is a force of nature pulling on my attention. It doesn’t stop me from noticing her lips, the details in the way they curve and shine has never been more apparent. Her short black hair appears to flow out of the feathers like a wave of shimmering radiance. I can’t remember feeling this week-kneed for anyone except my high school crush, and it’s confusing the hell out of me. We’re best friends, and while I feel attracted to women as well as men, I feel way too close to Stacy to think of her in that way. Don’t I? I thought I did, I’m instantly not so sure.
It’s the way the mask looks on her… Wow is the word bouncing around my mind now, everything else has frozen.
“Wow.” I say.
“Why thank you, Tara, servant of the mystic queen.” Stacy says in her best attempt at a regal and pompous voice. “Now tell me how much you love and adore me.”
I want to tell her to adore my fist, but it seems much easier to play along. Why not?
“Haha, you know how much I love and adore you Stacy. Seriously, you’re like the best friend I’ve ever had, and you look so stunning right now, I should get a picture.”
“Ever so kind, my loyal servant!” Stacy replies, a wide smile on her lips the whole time, “Now kiss my feet and tell me you worship me.”
What? No way, it’s my turn to put on the mask and use a silly grandeur voice. Nevertheless, I find myself getting onto my knees and I slowly lean down towards her feet. Why not let her have her fun after all? It’s harmless, and although I really don’t want to get my pants all dusty, it’s not like I can’t brush myself off after.
“Oh of course I worship you oh Mystic Queen” I reply in my best voice of overblown admiration. Stacy is wearing cute sandals, so I give each foot a peck on the bare skin. There, that should make her satisfied, I’ve kissed her feet…
“Wow Tara, you’re really committing to this, what else can I make you do, hm…?” she slyly ponders.
“Anything.” I say as I get to my feet. I’m not sure why I said that, I don’t want her to get carried away now, do I?
“Oh I know!” Stacy bursts with excitement, “Go find David Lawson and stick your tongue down his throat!”
“Ok” I say, and start walking out of the room. I don’t know why I do though… There’s no way I’d ever have the guts to go through with this one.
“Huh, are you really going?” Stacy asks after me.
“Yes” I reply instantly. I want to add that I don’t know why or that there’s no way I’m actually going to do it, but those words don’t seem necessary for the question that was asked.
Stacy quickly takes the mask off and throws it back in the box before hurrying out the door after me.
“Tara! Wait! Come back!”
I glance behind me to see her now unmasked form coming after me, jogging to catch up with the power-walking pace I seem to be in now. No, I’m not stopping yet, I can at least find David before I become as shy as hermit crab and hide under the nearest desk or bush. I’ve cleared the old academy building and am walking down campus towards the canteen and social green where I reckon David will be at this time of day.
David Lawson is our shared crush, Stacy and I. We talk about him whenever we see him and for a long time after we see him. Neither of us really know him, and we’ve blown the one or two facts we have gathered out of all proportion in competitions to decide between us who likes him more. He’s been away over the summer on a trip of some kind: fact. He’d been to Africa to build orphanages for starving children: that’s Stacy’s version. He was on the international space station in a NASA experiment to see how dreamy that long flowing hair of his was in zero gravity: that’s my version. I feel mine is better, but that’s not important right now.
It’s silly and very non-serious stuff. Stacy has broken up with her boyfriend recently and I kinda like the hipster in my philosophy minor anyway, so we both know if a move is to be made it should be by her, but it’s never a discussion we’ve had and wasn’t one we were expecting to have. This was a fun and silly crush on the hot guy who would look twice at us maybe, but while he’s on a date with that infuriatingly perfect transfer student from Sweden.
He certainly doesn’t seem like the Right Guy for me anyway, and I don’t walk up and spontaneously kiss anyone I’m attracted to just like that. Heck, I usually wait for the guy to make the move. Have I ever made the move? I don’t know, and I don’t have much time to think about it because shit shit shit there he is!
“Tara wait, you’re not actually going to do it are you?” Stacy asks, grabbing my shoulder and yanking it around so I’m facing her. All the joking tones and expression have vanished, fear and bewilderment now take their place.
“I… think so?” I respond, myself awash with confusion as I automatically shake from her grip and march the final fifteen yards up to where David stands talking to a group of friends. It doesn’t sound like Stacy followed me for that final stretch. I can picture her just standing there behind me, horrified at what I am now certain I’m about to do.
I simply tap David on the shoulder as he’s in mid sentence, pull his arm so he faces me, grab his beautiful face and put my lips against his. I start to kiss him with more passion than I knew I had. His lips are soft and his mouth warm, and it sends an excited tingle through me. The recoil isn’t instant, I think I surprised him so much his reactions were slow. I feel I have definitely frenched him, hard, I know somehow that I wasn’t physically meant to stick my tongue down his throat, but the thought of trying just that had been in my mind the whole way over. That could’ve made things a lot messier than it is already.
Great. Now he’s looking at me with sheer bewilderment and his friends are all exclaiming “What the fuck?!” and “Dude!” like they’ve never witnessed a kiss before.
All I say is, “Sorry, I just had to do that.” Before I frantically turn around to see Stacy sprinting back across the green. Shit.
“You’re Tracy, right? And that was Sara? Your friend?” David has started collecting his composure and has added anger into his tone to mingle with the existing notes of confusion.
I turn back around. “I’m Tara, she’s Stacy, and I don’t know if she’s still my friend now…” I say weakly.
“Well I don’t care what cruel dares you two have been making, you can’t just do that to someone!” David snaps at me. I can feel the embarrassment, guilt and anger bubbling up in me like a chemistry experiment gone out of control, and it isn’t helping that his friends are providing a chorus of mock disapproval and genuine egging on of our impromptu kiss.
“I know, I’m sorry” I say through a dry throat, feeling all the time that I want to scream in protest. I never meant to do it, I just did. It was like I was possessed, or… commanded… My thoughts instantly turn back to that mask. That beautiful, alluring mask.
With one more bashful apology, I turn to leave, but David calls after me.
“Well hold on, you can’t just go after skipping to the end of the date, you’re supposed to ask me on the start of one now, right?” He offers. It sounds genuine too, his anger giving way to a sort of intrigue, maybe subtle admiration? It’s hard to tell, so I don’t make assumptions either way.
A date would make sense though, it’s what Stacy and I joked about because neither of us thought it possible. Here was the chance, but it feels all wrong. “Stacy is the one who really wants to date you” I meekly explain.
“Well Stacy should borrow some of your forwardness.” David grins...
We end up exchanging numbers, and I say I’ll call, but to put him on a date with Stacy.
“We’ll see” he replies with a smirk, and with that I turn to leave.
My head is swimming in thoughts. ‘What just happened?’ I keep asking and asking myself. Stacy wore that mask and told me to do something and I just did it, despite it being something I would never do. The expression of love and the kissing of her feet I thought were slightly outside our usual dynamic, but the kiss with David Lawson, however brief and unreciprocated, that was the work of something that didn’t come from me…
I return to the abandoned storeroom, and find the mask where Stacy had thrown it back in its box. I had almost expected not to find it, predicting that Stacy would have been here before me with the same thought. But no, she’d be too distraught over what I’ve done to think of anything other than how much of a bitch I am.
I take the mask back to my dorm, pleased to see my roommate Katie was in. If this mask can do what I think it can, I have to test it…