Cracked Masks

Cracked Masks by Antonia Kasoulidou

I’ve crafted a mask out of clay for years. Moulding each corner and detail to perfect my persona and appearance to anybody that isn’t the visitor in my mind. I’d forgotten how delicate clay was. That, after time, when it hardens all it takes is one mistake for the whole thing to shatter into thousands of pieces, like sprinkles. Except the colourful illusion we associate with those crystallised sugars is not nearly as pleasant among the shards of a broken shield. I’d been admiring my mask the other day, noticing the small bumps and bruises my journeys and travels have caused it when it slipped out of my grasp and fell. As the remnants lay speckled among the ground I stopped and looked at my bare hands, noticing the weight disappearing from my body. I hadn’t realised how heavy it was to wear a mask. I crouched and picked up each piece, scouting the damage that had been caused, automatically deliberating the best way to fix it. Nothing lasted long enough as, glue would eventually melt against heat, and cement would take too long to make.

Sitting amongst these pieces of me, I took the time to observe them. Learn what has built me into the person I am now.

I didn’t use to fall in love with ideas. I fell in love with people, places and philosophies but never ideas. I’ve always been a realist when it came to life, aware of what I want, never allowing myself to be lulled into a false sense of a future. But lately, words have come to mean nothing to me. Just, sounds and intonations that are used to describe what people want you to think, not what they really mean. I focus more on actions. The way eyes light up in regards to certain topics and conversations. The brush of a hand at the lower dip of a back. The curve at the corner of a mouth when you’ve made a person laugh. Sitting in a room, I watch actions instead of hearing words, which could be a flaw, but I find it to be easier to understand people based on what is fact, not wonder.

The idea I’ve fallen in love with is an idea that can never happen. A situation that was created and lost in the space of days, minutes, seconds. My creation. They don’t teach you in school how to mourn the loss of something that doesn’t exist, or will never exist. They teach you how to do equations, analyse quotes and mix chemicals together to form specific reactions. The chemicals I’ve mixed together recently has been one part imaginary with two part denial. I rely on objects and places to attach these feelings to in hope of one day abandoning them there when I leave. But as the time carried on, and my mask slowly slipped down, I realised what I should have been focusing on shouldn’t have been the idea of what could be, but the idea of what is.

A beaded necklace on a person who stood as strong as a pillar, accepting of who he is and who everyone around him is, never demanding change or repayment for his kindness.

A watch curled around the arm of a hug as a soft as a koala; comforting and loyal. A person remaining constant, no matter what pain has been thrown at them.

A smile on the face of a girl who’s outer appearance reflects a person of steel, but who’s inner workings are gentle and in-want of love.

The love and care of a person whose desire to protect and help everyone around him creates the image of a perfect being, placed on the top of a pedestal, allowing for there to be people who try to pull him down. At times, myself, included in the crowd; other times, himself. But his determination creates an admiration that will propel him through life.

I’m not sad that my mask has shattered. In fact, I’m glad. I don’t want to live a life of pretend or fear anymore.

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