The Eternal Mask

There are times when I feel I don't belong here. Like my existence wasn't meant to be, well this was one of those moments. I was a small town girl from a big house, those things that don't mix. Sometimes when it rains I just look out the window in the out pour and see different people, different lives and think 'that could be me.'

Eternal life its what everybody wants, isn't it? To live and never die? To never grow old? Immortality? Well not me.

It all started on the day that I realised that there are no such things as miracles. Things happen, people are born, grow old and then die. There is nothing after that.
Well, not for an angel anyway.

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1. Longing

 

The icy blue waters smashed into a million tiny grains of glass,hitting my exposed feet.

Sometimes I feel different. I feel caged. Like I don't belong here. Sometimes this world just seems too big, I wish I could just break free. I feel trapped, I just want to spread my wings and fly away.

I shivered as I realised how cold I was. It felt like I was being toyed with some how. The way the wind hit the back of my neck, sending a chill down my spine.

A warm embracing coat was dropped on my shoulders,stopping the chill in its tracks.

"Are you ready to go?" Henry's welcoming voice made my heart skip a beat and then flutter like a hummingbird.

Henry always did that to me. Of course he didn't know that. He didn't seem to notice me at all.Yes, he talked to me sure, but it wasn't what I wanted.

He was staring at the Silver stallion, so named for the rearing stallion carved to the front.The most magnificent vessel in these waters. It was known as the Ghost of the sea. Its elegant sails shone silver in the wind. It was invisible to the enemy's eye,during battle.

My fathers boat was truly a beauty. Being the captains daughter had its advantages sure. I was as much in control of the ship and crew as he was. But then of course being a female pirate was a very difficult thing among men.

I've had to prove myself various times,beating the toughest man on board at a sword fight, definitely proved myself to be worthy.

But to my father I was just Allison Taylor. Dark brown hair, green eyes and boring pink lips. I wanted to say that I was beautiful, but that obviously couldn't be true considering the fact that I wasn't standing here kissing Henry.Much to my disappointment.  

I got up from the sea stained rocks that I had currently occupied and gave Henry his jacket back. He looked at me but said nothing.It was the most awkward and quietest moments I could remember. Just the sound of my boots hitting the ground and the waves slapping against the rocks.                                              

  The wind stirred as we approached the ship," Alice! Thank god your here!"

My best friend Jennifer, shouted to me as she fought her own little battle with the wind.

"What's wrong Jen?" I shouted over the wind.

She took one look at Henry,smiled, then looked back at me,"there's some insane person on the boat saying that it's cursed."

"Cursed?" I repeated. I walked away from them, as I got closer, I could hear more and more of the commotion.

"If you leave you will all die. You will spend an eternity of misery.-" The woman continued speaking in a language I couldn't identify.

The woman's face was covered by an ebony cloak the billowed down to the ground.

She stepped forward to where I stood, frozen in place, and grabbed my wrist in a death grip, so hard that her knuckles shone white. Her grip began to hurt as the bruises formed on my wrist.

"You! It's you! You are the heart of this curse." Her eyes flared while screaming at me. I ripped my hand away from hers and stumbled back into someone's arms. I looked up to see it was Henry.He quickly let go of me and stepped back.

"Enough! I will not have this talk on my ship," My father stepped up from below deck, sword in hand."away with you!"

"You are forgetting you are as much apart of this curse as the rest of them. You will suffer too!" The  woman croaked back.

My father was not amused," I said away with you. You have no place here.You are but a simple bible reader, nothing more."

" I have done all I can obviously. Pirates you believe in nothing but gold and silver" With that the woman pulled the black hood of her cloak over her face and departed.

Murmurs erupted around the crew but I remained silent, my lips pressed together in a tight line.

"Enough of this crazy talk. We leave in half an hour. Get back to work!" Avoiding the eyes of my crew mates I slipped off the ship and ran down the street.

"Hey you!" I shouted as some one in a black cloak crept into a side alley. The person didn't stop. As I approached the ally the dark figure appeared from the shadows. It was the old woman. "What were you saying about me?" 

"Just you wait Allison, you want people to notice you. To love you. Well that will soon happen, just you wait. But with love comes danger, and that will soon catch up with you. You wont be able to run forever Allison."

"I Never back down from a fight." I retorted.

"But you will. Just you wait."

"Allison!" A male voice called from the distance, I looked behind me and saw Jen and Henry coming down the alley.

I quickly looked back to the old woman, but she was gone. There wasn't a back exit, just a beaten down brick wall, "how the-"

Jen was at my side squealing into my ear,"Alice, there you are!"

"I was just going for a walk."

"In the back of an alley?"

"Any way, your dads looking for you." I turned hesitantly to see Henry at the mouth of the alley.

I trudged past him,not even waiting for him to move, knocking his shoulder in the process.

On the way back to the ship I processed what the woman had said to me,'But with love comes danger, and that will soon catch up with you'. What the hell did that mean? I tapped my knuckle against my dads office,where he usually spent most his nights.

"Come in!"He snapped.

I walked in and was welcomed by the smell of rum and tobacco "you wanted to see me."

"Oh Alice,I got you something." His face soon lit up, and the groggy old man from inside vanished.

He passed me a white rectangular box and I slowly opened it. Inside was a luscious ..Dress?

"Um, daddy. As much as I like dresses, I'm more of a sword kind of girl."

He chuckled at me, a low raspy sound, " yes Alice I realise that, but we've been invited to a masked ball in Venice  And I want my daughter to look the best out of the lot of them!"

"Thank you so much! But why are we going in the first place, I thought you didn't like masked balls or any thing like that."

He looked down at the table,"you know I don't  but it was more of a demand than a request."

"From who?"

"You know who." I felt the sudden urge to gag. My family was one issue, let alone my stuck-up older sister.

"Wait! You said we were all going?"

"Yes, the crew will be going. I expect them to look their best. Its just in case any thing happens."

"Like?" I pressed on.

He looked down again," lets hope we don't find out."

"You believed what that woman said? You did, didn't you?"

His ears became very red," do not question me Allison.-" Oh! So it was Allison now."Just take the dress and get out. I expect you to be dressed and ready by tomorrow night."

I picked up the box and left, slamming the door on my way out.

"What's wrong with you?" Ben the biggest man on board chirped at me, clearly amused by my dismay.

"Jen!-" Jen popped up at my side."- Take this to my cabin please?" She took the box with out question and quickly moved out of the way.

"Their at it again!" Some one called from the distance and the crew quickly gathered around us.

Ben put his hands in front of me and made a 'bring it' motion,"bring it on, Taylor."

He mirrored my action as I drew out my sword. Ben was strong, but he was slow.

As the battle commenced a bubble of noise erupted around us, "five on Ben!" Some one shouted near Ben's shoulder.

"Ten on Alice!" I smiled as Henry took his bet and put all my strength into the fight.

Within five minutes Ben was lying on his back with my boot on his chest. Fighting always made me feel better. I swiftly removed my boot and helped Ben up.

"Your good Taylor, I'll give you that."

"And your slow." I retorted.

"Next time you want to express your emotions, I'm always here." Was he flirting with me? He couldn't  Could he?

"I'll keep that in mind." I said and fled to my cabin  The box lay waiting on my bed and I ungratefully pushed it to the floor. It fell to the ground with an unwilling slump.

Then I noticed the small piece of paper, It was slightly faded and heavily torn:

Just to let you know, Henry was VERY worried when we couldn't find you earlier. Thought you might want to know.

I smiled at the note that was clearly left by Jen.I could always tell, by her lack of resources;She always knew how to make me feel better, even when the world seemed hopeless.

The boat shuddered around me and then went to a gentle sway. Set sail and away we go. With that thought I rested my head on my pillow, not even bothering to get changed and thought of sunsets and the lapping sea.

"Will you never learn Allison! Tears show weakness!" She slapped me again,harder this time. I knelt down before her, my face hidden from her hand.She picked me up by my hair sending a shooting pain to my scalp.

"Weak, Weak. You are weak Allison!" The small harmless pocket knife shone in the light as it pounced on my shoulder. A sharp searing pain shot down my shoulder,as the knife slashed down my shoulder, to my neck line and up to the other shoulder.

White flashed before my eyes as I willed the tears back. Then it became to much. The Blackness consumed me. As I fell in to a dark pool that will never surface 

Weak, Weak, Weak...

"No!" I sat bolt up right, the bed sheets ruffled and sweat dewed on my forehead.

"Just a dream, It was just a dream. I looked around at my surroundings.One bed and one dressing table in the corner.

I walked across the room to look at the mirror. My face was sticky with sweat and my hair was tangled like seaweed. I carefully undid the top button of my shirt. And there it was. Just as I had last saw it. The long V shaped scar than ran from my shoulder to my neck line and up to the other shoulder was a light pink colour, that bulged with whispers 'look at me. Look at me!'

From that day on I had always wore clothes that covered it and never muttered a word to any one about it.

" Land ho!" I head someone shout above deck and then thudding footsteps, as the crew ran to get to their stations. Wait! Land ho? How long was I asleep for? Oh well.

"Alice!" Then the obsessive knocking started.

"Okay!  I'm up!" I said as I slammed the door open.

Jen looked...Scared,"s-sorry." She whispered timidly. 

"No, I'm sorry Jen. I'm just not in a good mood." "O-okay, I just wanted to say that we've arrived."  She walked quickly away,not even looking back.

  "Thanks." God! Do I sound that dismissive  Am I becoming like her? What about if I am her? No! I will not go down that deep. You are not her.You are not her.You are not her. I chanted while taking deep breaths. I must not think about that time or place. Its in the past. I am living in the present, not the past.

Up on deck it was hectic. People wandering around aimlessly, like headless chickens. I spotted Henry observing the crew with the same bemused expression as me.He saw me and slowly walked over.

"What's going on?"

"We just heard about our plans for this evening. A masked ball. Not many times we can say were going to one of those."

He smiled down at me and I cracked a smile back. Instead of replying, I drummed my fingers on the wood, Henry looked down at my tapping hand, "are you okay? You seem out of sorts."

"I-I'm just... Do you want to look around Venice with me?" Where did that come from? Did I actually say that?

"Sure." I guess I did say it," after you." He gestured for me to go ahead. I noticed Jen watching us with a huge grin on her face.She casually stuck her thumb up. 

As Henry caught up with me, to walk by my side, I heard Jen whistle quietly, while looking at Henry's retreating backside. And I had to admit I didn't blame her.

I had no idea where I was going,so I just followed the path the crowd were headed. Henry followed me willingly to what looked like a town marked. A group or performers were standing on a small stage, generally making a fool out of themselves. I laughed as one of the actors, wearing a checked jesters costume, tripped into a bowl of muck.

There was a sudden burst of hush and a break in the crowd as a devilish looking man walked through the crowd. He stood tall and proud, as the crowd parted for him to walk to the front of the stage. Henry put his arm around my shoulders protectively 

The man looked at me and smiled, a evil grin that scared me half to death, I backed up into Henry, trying to get as far away from the man as possible.He walked on to the front of the stage, looking behind his shoulder occasional  I looked to my side to a young woman, with her hands clasped together in front of her and whispering a prayer.

"Who is he?" I whispered to the woman.

She looked up at me, grey eyes meeting green," he's the Devil."

"Come on lets go." Henry tugged on my arm, clearly not amused by the woman's description.

We backed away slowly until we were once again walking along the dock to the Silver stallion.

" Hey!" Jen popped up at my side making me jump," Its time! Its time!"

"Oh joy." I made my best happy face. "I know you don't like this type of thing but I do. It will be fun! Instead of all the killing and rum."

"What's she going on about?" Henry whispered into my ear, his breath tickled my neck.

" Jen is mocking at the idea of me being her personal doll for the rest of the day."

"Oh, girl stuff." Jen put her hands on her hips, "and what is that suppose to me." She raised her eyebrow at him and I swear I felt him shift closer to me.

"Have fun then." He waited until Jen had turned around and mouthed to me 'good luck' and walked up to help Ben.

I stalked to my cabin with Jen skipping at my heals occasional letting out the odd squeal of excitement  I collapsed down on my bed as Jen shut the door and said," okay lets have some fun."

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