The 30th of January 1910 – New York, New York

(found by the mask, smudged with some kind of makeup)

I’m sorry Bethany.

You weren’t meant to see that.

If all of this had only gone to plan then you would have never seen me again. If all of this had only gone to plan, Bethany, I assure you that you’ve would have been smiling when remembering of me, now that I’ve gone forever. I assure you that your memory of me, the myth of me that you’d created under my guidance, would at least be much more positive.

If all of this had only gone to plan. If and if and if and more of it, too.

If all of this had only gone to plan then there would have been absolutely no need for a plan to begin with.

I’ve been wearing a costume since birth, I feel Bethany. It’s a whole variety of costumes, actually, depending on the occasion and the audience and the mood. The whole collection has been on so long that I even only know myself as “The Costumed.”

There’s a lot of planning involved. Wardrobe changes, exits of both hard and soft variety, management of people to ensure that scenes go as close to the script as possible. There’s a lot of planning and a lot of traipsing from moment to moment like a dog on an ice rink.

With the apologies, Bethany, please also take the knowledge that the closest I ever came to removing the mask was in your presence, and the most forcefully genuine smiles I’ve worn were when you sat next to me.

But it all goes wrong in the end, doesn’t it?

It’s a horrible thing, the feeling that you get when you step down from a performance and realize that you were the only one who saw the stage to begin with. It’s a horrible thing, the confusion that clouds your mind when you step in front of a mirror and wonder whose face that is. It’s a horrible thing, Bethany, when so much goes wrong that the only way to make it right is through pretending.

So, Bethany, you weren’t meant to see that. Some dolt wanted an encore or something of the sort. Just as I was about to go away for good, the curtain rose once again, and it caught me by surprise, and I was revealed to the world as what I really am, revealed as what I was this whole time.

I do remember warning you, but I should have just left instead. Left when I first had the opportunity – years and years ago – and never come back.

Perhaps we’ll see each other again. Perhaps you’ll even be able recognize me.

I always had a feeling that you could see right through the accoutrements.

Love,

Melissa

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