The Mask We Wear

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You stared in the mirror. Dull grey eyes stared back at you, haunted by the things that they’d seen; deadened by the hand that life had dealt you. The longer you stared at the reflective surface the more flaws you could see; the more you hated yourself. As you stood there, a cold numbness spread through your body; it encircled your heart, wrapping it in its unforgiving embrace. You sank down on the ground, your injured legs giving out weakly.

Memories of the day before flashed through your mind. What the was point of living, you thought, when you had nobody to live for? Harassed during the day, tormented at night - you had no relief from the hell that was your life, no where to turn to when you felt you couldn’t go on. Clenching trembling fingers into tight fists, you curled up where you were on the ground, tears flowing freely down your pale and bruised cheeks.

Hours flew by, or was it minutes? You watched as the sunlight that creeped through the window sill grew dimmer and dimmer, as the room grew darker and darker, until you could barely see your hands in front of you. Giving a weary sigh, you stood shakily, bracing yourself on the wall. Step by aching step, you shuffled towards the barely lit kitchen, stumbling over the raised doorway. You made your way to where you knew the knives were kept, a grim, determined look set in your grave face. Grabbing the biggest knife you saw, you laid it against your thin wrist, where black and blue marks stood starkly against your too-pale skin.

Without any hesitation you pressed the blade into your flesh, watching with sick fascination as droplets of blood dripped down your arm, onto the wooden floor. Relief washed over you. The physical pain gave you something to focus on, something other than the near-overwhelming terror you felt over what you knew would happen the next day. Taking a deep breath, you stood there for a while, letting the sting of the cut comfort you, reassure you that you still had at least some control left over your life.

Reluctantly you took a clean rag and ran it under cold water, and pressed it to your wound, staunching the blood flow. You then put on rubber gloves, wiped up the puddle that your life force had left behind, and poured bleach over it, cleaning up that as well. Every act you did was automatic and robotic, as if it was something you did so often you didn’t need to think to know what to do.

When the kitchen was clean once more, you took another deep breath and walked out the room, heading out the front doors, and made your way to campus, as if nothing had happened. And as far as anyone knew, nothing had. And you were determined that it stayed that way.


Even though it may not be as drastic, as painful, as physical as this excerpt, somewhere within us, our true self lays hidden from the all-too harsh and judgmental world that we live in. And somedays, we have no choice but to stay concealed. 

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