A masquerade mask.

The mask hangs there on the wall, its strings dangling by its sides - cold to the touch, I wear it, for people in the outside world do not want to know who I really am, what really lies beneath this mask I wear...

I look at myself in the mirror and see what I see - my face; who I really am.  The black hair that is styled carefully, the beard stubble trimmed neatly, the hazel eyes that just stare back at me.  Every morning it is the same, never changing, and yet when I go outside - people see something different, I change.

As soon as leave my home, my castle; the mask is worn.  Who I am to other people is not who I am when I look at myself in the mirror.  To others, I am happy, joyful, considerate, caring and active.  That is how people see me, that is how I make my way through life; but it's all a lie...

It's just a mask I wear; a masquerade mask.

People do not want to see who I really am; they do not want to get close to me and fear what lies beneath the mask; they do not want to know what lies beneath it.

The room is warm and in the background hums the radiator, yet the room looks cold and dark, the curtains drawn for the night.  Sitting on the edge of the bed, my head in my hands, I slowly untie the strings that hold the mask to my face and let it fall the floor - letting it bounce and rock gently until it stops, just inches from my feet; its white underbelly exposed to me.

The pain floods through my body as the gates are open, making me shake and sweat.  In the depths of my mind, an army is mobilising, ready to charge and battle with the great wall that protects my innermost thoughts, my cherished memories.  Havoc is wreaked, laying ruins to the order and calmness within me imposed by the mask.

Inch-by-inch, the great wall is destroyed, the army feeding on the torment that they are creating, being spurred on with their agonising destruction.

It is unbearable.

I slump in the corner of the room - clutching my head in my heads, trying to find a piece of solace that I can latch onto, to save me from the impending army.  To coldness of the walls to my touch help soothe and calm my mind, but only for a fleeting second - they jest with me, allowing me to only feel a glimmer of calmness, before letting the army resume its reign of terror.

Low murmurs escape my mouth, though my ears are deaf to the outside world.  Time walks by, ignoring me, carrying on with its business - not wanting to stop for no-one; having little care for anyone but itself.

Sleep is my saviour, my protector, my weapon.  It appears in front of me, offering a hand and a way out of the dark room - away from the terror created by the army, away from the pain controlling it all, away from everything; for just one night.

And that is all it is - just one night, sleep cannot always be my protector, for everything repeats itself the next day: staring at the mirror, me staring back, picking the mask up off the floor and tying the strings at the back of my head.

To the outside, they see the mask and nothing else; no-one has time to untie the strings and see what is underneath, no-one cares to take it off except me...

The End

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