Masquerade Ball

He got up slowly. He felt his way around the room, looking for the mask he was using before he dozed off next to me, right here in my bed. 

This afternoon he chose a beautiful one: the mask of the love-struck and drunk lover. I think it’s because we argued last night and he thought he needed to play that role to win me over again. He puts a lot of energy into it, but he should know it’s not even necessary for me. I've already seen the mask exchange performance so many times, and so close up, that I have memorized its trick, the illusion it creates. But it can’t impress me. 

I got up, too, and waited for him to despair a bit as he searched for his accessory, and I took a shower. He came into the bathroom with a different mask—now he was the horny jerk coming after me in the shower. I like sex with that one, but I wasn't in the mood. We had just made love, and sex after love seems so misplaced…. Irritated, he left and went to the balcony to smoke a cigarette and wait for me to get out. 

I put on my soft robe and decided to prepare a dinner. He was going to fool around that night, and only when he was in the elevator would he put on his usual disguise for these occasions: the good guy. I knew he would return later to taste the food from the way he sniffed the air when he left the bathroom, his hair slicked back and smelling of cologne, wearing a nice silk shirt. He fetched his pants and the shoes I had polished, finished dressing and came over to kiss me and squeeze my tits and ass, the jerk still smiling slyly, as naughty and daring as he could be. He is the perfect illusion. 

A mask for each occasion. He is the perfect gentleman for the helpless old ladies at markets and bakeries everywhere, a jerk with me and so many other women out there—who knows how many—the king of sleazebags for his best friends. The good husband and father for his family—his wife’s eyes twinkling as she prattles on about his qualities—, the charming seducer for every unsuspecting woman in town. The responsible and respected professional, the good son, the good guy, the poor sucker who wins everyone over with his pleading looks, the alpha male, the captain, the great son, the righteous man, beyond reprehension, the rebel…. He thinks he has collected these masks over his lifetime; he thinks they are the fruit of his experience. Today I know that, actually, he’s held captive by his masks, he is their prisoner, an item from their collection. Because of how much he uses the masks, he no longer remembers which is his real face. It got lost in the narrow and winding labyrinth of his daily performances for the naïve crowds who surround him. He has gone so deep into the labyrinth…. With every step he takes he becomes more confused and less confident. He goes faster with each step—he is nearly running! For what? He doesn't know, he no longer knows. 

The only truth he knows is the taste of my mouth, the sweet smell of my hair. My beauty is his only certainty—and his vice, just for today. He doesn't have a heart to give me, not any longer. He got lost in the labyrinth along with his dreams and hopes. The only thing left for him is to search for his own face. He comes back to me because he knows I know who he really is, deep down. He wants to see himself reflected in my eyes, to drain from me the vital energy needed to prevent his disappearance, to suck out his own essence from my insides. I kept him in me, not for me. Because I loved him first—unconditionally, hopelessly. Because I saw his truth and it was beautiful…. Perhaps it still is, under the parade of lies piled high over him. His lie is easy to acquire. The value of his hidden treasure of truth is immeasurable. I would rather be the guardian of this secret than reveal it, out in the open. I would prefer to guard it until he finds his way out of the labyrinth—and then I can return it to the world. But even the remote chance of running away from there seems distant—a blot that’s even blurrier when I look at it from my perspective. 

And to think of how much he protects himself from me, that he built the labyrinth to put himself at a safe distance from me. 

And I have him in my hands. 

(End of story. The delusion is over. I can hear him rummaging the drawers, looking for his next mask….)

PATRÍCIA SICILIANO was born in Rio de Janeiro in November 1972. She became interested in the literary world at a very tender age. She never stopped reading once she learned how. She loved listening to her father's bedtime stories and wished she could make up stories herself.

She majored in Biology, works as a teacher, is a mother by choice, and a wife as consequence of love. She breathes, therefore she writes―she has never known life without writing. She created a blog in 2009 with the intention to gather her writing and in 2011 it placed 3rd in the Literary Category of the Top Blog Awards in Brazil.

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