Once There Was a Masquerade by Adriana Aumann-Weyenberg
In November, the library hosted National Novel Writing Month. One of the writing challenges was to create a short creative work. The following is the winning submission for this category, written by Adriana Aumann-Weyenberg.
Once there was a masquerade. It was not your ordinary party, it was the masquerade to out-rival all others. Hundreds of people wore the most extravagant and elaborate masks you ever did see. There were masks of all shapes and sizes, of all colors and mediums, from all cultures and countries: Japanese masks, African masks, and Mardi Gras masks; just to name a few. Some were homemade, some were store-bought, but they all were masks.
Out of this crowd of masked people, one woman stood out in particular. She was of average height and size and looked as ordinary as could be. To an outsider there would be no explanation as to why this lady should turn heads, but turn heads she did. Everyone stopped and stared at her and whispered about her behind their masks. The reason was very simple... she was the only one not wearing a mask. Some people were bold enough to ask her about this outright.
"Are you wearing a really realistic mask?" a man whose mask resembled a rooster queried.
"No," was her curt reply.
"Is it like the Emperor's New Clothes fairytale?" a woman in a rainbow mask asked her. "Did someone convince you that you're wearing a mask that only someone who is worthy enough can see?"
"No," the strange lady answered. By this time, quite a crowd of onlookers had gathered around her to gape and gawk.
"Are you a robot?" a child wearing a paper bag mask questioned.
"No," the stranger said. People asked her more and more questions, each more absurd than the one before it, to which the lady's answer was always the same, "No". Someone in a mask that appeared to be made out of a very large leaf pushed through the crowd.
"Hey, I recognize you. You're the person who was the only one wearing a mask at the really big ball, right?"
"Yes," the lady replied with a nod of her head. It was hard to tell what the spectators were more amazed by, the fact that someone recognized this woman or that she had said yes instead of no. The lady opened her mouth and began to speak and what she said astounded them even further.
"Everyone wears a mask, but not all of them are visible, tangible things you can touch. I'm talking about metaphorical masks; the personas we put on in certain situations. Whether we are trying to fit in or trying to stand out, we are all wearing masks. These masks are neither good nor bad, it is how we use them that matters. We can all choose what masks we wear and how long we wear them. That said, even when you are wearing a mask, you can never truly hide who you really are." After the woman had finished her impromptu speech, the people in her vicinity slowly began to remove their masks...