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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2. Memories

 

I stared at myself in the mirror. As much as I hated it, Jen did do a good job. The dress was. . .Well wow. The fabric was a royal blue silk, that clung to my waist then flowed out to my feet. Silver patterns were hand sown on, shining when ever I moved. 

My scar had been carefully covered by some type of make up, so you couldn't see it. What an era this is, I thought. Amazed because I never wore make up. I didn't see the point of it. I didn't really care what I looked like. I had no one to look good for. I sighed as I looked at myself in the rusty mirror that had pieces missing in the corner from where it had smashed.This was  definitely  not me.

My brunette hair was pinned up. Jen had some how curled my hair making a bun out of the curls, then letting some fall free at me cheek.

Jen smiled at me, clearly impressed by her work," don't give me that look, you look great and you know it." She scolded me when I grimaced at my reflection.

Jen had put on her own little pink frock that made me feel like I was wearing a potato sack. Jen fit into these things. She knew what to do, what to say. She even knew what knife and fork to use, out of the twenty others that were often placed on a table.

Me, well I kept to myself, tried my best not to say a sarcastic comment or punch someone in the face. A light tapping on the door made Jen squeal," who is it?"

"Henry, its time to go."

"Okay." Jen tugged on my arm beckoning me to the door. "Actually you go ahead. I want a moment to myself. I'll meet you there okay."

"You sure?"

"Yeah, don't worry I will come, I promise." She gave me a doubtful look, before running out of the door.

Peace at last. Well, not for long. My cat, Bliss, strutted into the room, purring and meowing. I tickled behind her ear as she started to curl up on my pillow.

"Well, Bliss, what do you think? Shall I go?" She looked up at me for a while then decided that sleep sounded more interesting.

One more glance in the mirror told me that something was missing. My neck looked too bare. I searched around in the draws of my dresser, searching around for something that was at least half decent. It was then that I remembered. The one thing pleasant from my old life. The sapphire necklace was just how I remembered it, considering it had been in a draw for the past eight years. Images flashed before my mind of two children running around in a field, trying to drown out the real world for a few hours. . .    

 

"Come on Alice! Don't worry, I'll catch you." I giggled as I slid down the tree into Gales arms.

We were climbing up our favourite tree, a pink cherry blossom. Gale fell backwards onto the grass, making me fall on top of him.

"You're heavy you know."

"Sorry." I went to move away but he pulled me back down so that I was looking down on him.

"I said you were heavy, I never said that you had to move."

Gale moved his jet black hair out of his eyes, and went to touch the scar on my chest. I stiffened as his fingers touched my shoulder tracing the line," I cant believe that one woman could be so cruel."

"Its fine, I can handle it" I never wanted Gale to worry about me because when Gale worried havoc would spread.

We were very mature for age, all thirteen years of it. We were best friends. Playing and generally causing trouble.

"Here, I want you to have something." He sat up, moving me so I was sitting between his legs. He reached in to his pocket and pulled out a sapphire and white gold necklace. It was something that Gales mother had given him before she died.

"I cant take it. It was your mothers. Its all you have left of her."

"That's why I want you to take it. Because I might be. . . Going away for a while." 

"What! No you cant leave me. Please!" Tears began to trickle down my face.

"Shh. Its okay. Its going to be okay." He leaned forward,so that our lips touched briefly. He pulled back slightly but then leaned forward again this time for longer, until we are completely lost in each other. So lost that we didn't hear the approaching foot steps.

I was violent pushed to the hot ground. I looked up to see Molly, my worst enemy and also my sister. She had her blond hair braided into two plaits. And she wore her white crystallized dress branded with her initials. "She wants you inside. Now!"

I picked myself up and walked towards Gale.

"As for you,-" She looked at Gale with longing that she was the one Gale had just had his lips on,not me,"- It looks like its time for you to leave."

"I'm not suppose to leave for another day." Gale protested.

"Tell them that." Molly pointed behind her shoulder to a group of men that were twice my size, maybe even taller.

"Like she said, Its time you leave." A very big looking man stepped forward and grabbed Gales arm.

"No, No!" I ran forward and was grabbed by two of the men.No matter how much I fought, no matter how much I tried to get free, it was useless. Gale fought his way to me, but was grabbed by another set of men and carried away. Away from me.    

I never saw Gale again after that. That was the day that we became more.That was the day that my world came tumbling down. I ran the necklace through my fingers, feeling the coldness of the white gold. It was the most expensive thing I owned and it wasn't even mine. I had found it that day, lying in the grass, after they took Gale away. It wasn't until I left that god awful place that my heart began to heal. But now it feels broken again.

Oh well, my life was full of disappointment, why dwell over it. I put the necklace on, the large oval sapphire with white diamonds encrusted around it, rested perfectly on the core of my neck.

Bliss meowed at me, reminding me that I couldn't postpone for much longer. I sighed loudly and stormed out of the room, leaving a very pleased looking Bliss purring at a pillow.

As I walked along the deck I noticed the amount of horse driven coaches on their way to the masquerade ball. A dark blue coach stopped in front of me, the driver lifted his hat to me," to the masquerade  miss?"

Miss? I liked the sound of that.

"Yes please."

"Hop in."

The ride was rather peaceful. The horse would often grunt or groan along the rocky terrain, but apart from that it was recently quiet.

I put on my royal blue mask.It was plain except for a few faux diamonds that had been glued or sown into the silk fabric. A simple design, nothing too fancy. I liked things that way.

I put my hands together in my lap and said a silent prey. Please let me break away from this place. I don't belong here Let me be free. Let me spread my wings and break away.

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.'

As we circled our way to the top of the hill, to the perfect Venice house, my heart picked up speed. I was going to see her. The person I had pushed away for so many years but kept coming back to haunt me. She was my inner demon.

We stopped in front of an archway, surrounded by candles and Stone angels. Despite the innocent look of the angels, they scared me to death. The way their eyes just. . .  Stared. I stepped out the cab and tried not to look into the angels eyes, but when ever I caught eye contact with one, I couldn't drop my gaze.

Noises of laughter and music echoed through the empty corridors. As I approached what appeared to be a ball room, two men, dressed rather fashionably, both in tight black and white costumes, that screamed 'I don't want to be here, I'm just here for the money', opened the doors for me.

People gasped. People whispered. But most just stared. They looked like the angels which didn't comfort me at all. I felt like a prized horse being paraded around for everyone to see. I spotted Henry -gawking with his jaw on the floor. He was standing next to a giggling Jen. I walked over to them, making sure not to look at anybody or to trip and fall on my face.

I succeeded, but before I could say any thing to my both starry eyed friends, trumpets went off announcing the host coming down the stairs.

They came down in white. With feather masks and gold bracelets on each arm. My heart began to beat faster than I thought possible. I could hear the blood in my ears. Feel my muscles clench. They were alive , and they were here.

I looked down at the floor and tried to collect myself by taking slow and steady breaths. When I lifted my head I met a pair of big gold eyes. My mother gazed at me with a deadly stare. If looks could kill . . . Well lets just say people would be holding my funeral by now.

My knees buckled underneath me, but Henry caught me under the arms and held me upright by my waist.

"Welcome,-" my mothers voice rang through the silent room, echoing as it travelled through the empty halls, "- welcome. Welcome to the seventy- fifth celebration ball. A night where we celebrate, peace, riches and health, so then lets toast to our national crest. To the angels."

People raised their glasses and took long glugs of the priceless wine.

I raised my own glass and Henry mimicked me, " to . . . Chance." He said calmly, clicking glasses  with me.

"To an unforgettable life." I clicked my glass back.

I stared at the family crest hanging up for every one to see. It showed a pair of white feather angel wings bleeding while entwined in thorns and brambles. Not the most peaceful of crests.

I had left that life behind me when I left with my father, to a life of sea and adventure.

My mother was walking gracefully towards us, people cleared a giant path for her, giving me a full view of what had happened to the woman I loathed. She had hurt me as a child. It was her that haunted me every night  Her who made me scream out in terror, yelling her name. Her.

"Alison." She purred at me.

"Lynette." I held my ground nice and confident.

Don't let her sense fear.

"You've grown."

"After eight years, what a surprise." That made her see red.

"Well that was your choice."

"I never had a choice."

"Oh you're still not dwelling over the fact that I took that appalling Gale away are you ?"

My head snapped up. "You ordered that?"

"Oops, did I not mention that before?" I went forward to give a punch , but Henry caught me from behind and held me close at his side where I couldn't do any damage.

"Calm down." He whispered in my ear.

"And you are?" My sister Molly rounded the corner, clearly impressed with what she saw. She looked better than when I last saw her. Her skin glowed and her hair shone gold. Her eyes looked different too, they looked blue? Is that even possible because I could have sworn they were green last time.

"Its none of your concern, who I am. -" Henry looked down at me. "- Come on lets go some where else." Henry steered me away.

"Thank you." I said cutely

"Your welcome. Now lets see if we can find Jennifer  Who knows what kind of trouble she could get into, in a place this big." I looked up to see if I could find my best friend, who I had honestly forgotten about. I saw her sitting, wine in hand, on a sailors lap giggling away.

I pulled on Henry's coat like a five year old that's too small to talk up to someone so big, and pointed to where Jen was. Henry laughed, " how long was that? I think I give it ten minutes. Come on."

He pulled me off to where a group of people were dancing. As the dance started, I was pushed off to stand in one line with the women and Henry went to stand with the men. We bowed to each  other and walked into the middle. I knew this dance from childhood when me and Gale had danced in the fields where the servants worked.  We put our hands close together, careful not to touch each other as it was part of the dance. Walking in a circle we then switched hands doing the same thing but in the other direction. This time we put both our hands up in the middle and walked around in a circle. Keeping eye contact with Henry I walked back to my starting place and bowed again. We came back into the middle, this time Henry put his hand on my waist and shoulder and I put my hands on his shoulder and arm. We spun around in the middle of the dance floor, dancing on the large printed crest in the middle of the floor. Every one else spun off where they met their new dance partners. I spun and came face to face with a handsome man, about my age.

He was as handsome as Henry, I thought. He had dark cropped hair and a little bit of stubble from lack of shaving. He looked oddly familiar to me. Like I was seeing a long lost brother for the first time in years. The man looked at me in the same way.

"That necklace,-" he said eyeing my necklace,"- where did you get it?"

"It was from my best friend. In the luce del giorno gardens eight years ago."

The stranger looked up at me suddenly, as if something in his head had just clicked,"- Alison."

"How do you know my name?"

"You haven't changed a bit cat eyes"

Cat eyes? That was the nickname Gale had given to me because we met at night in the kitchen, both trying to steal an apple from the chefs special cabinet. My eyes were so green that they had shone in the dark like a pair of cat eyes. Wait! Back up. Only Gale knew that nickname.

"Gale?" My eyes searched his face looking for the lost little boy behind his grown up features.

"Its really you." We had stopped dancing by this point and people were beginning to stare. Let them, I thought. I squealed and jumped up to hug him.

"Its really you." Gale repeated as if he couldn't quite believe it himself.

"Its really me." " I don't believe it. After eight years. Alison Taylor."

Gale reached in and pulled me into a great big bear hug. Then I remembered. Last time we saw each other we were kissing. Like proper going at it.

I think Gale realised that too, because he looked down at my pink lips for a while and decided to lean down and delicately kiss me.

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