Beneath the Mask
* * *
I awaken slowly, with tears in the corners of my eyes.
I don't remember my dreams,
but I'm quite certain it's better that way.
Even my subconscious has learned to hide.
Still, I don't open my eyes - I cannot bear to not see you beside me.
Instead I sink back into the emotions swirling inside my hollow chest cavity like a cross between Fujita's worst nightmare and the seventh level of Hell.
Deeper I go, into the dark, chaotic vortex insatiably consuming every true smile, every moment of peace before they can break the surface and shine through the windows of my soul.
Instead they are dragged through my vision as glimpses in the firelight.
In one instant, recognition; and in that same instant ripped away from me by the claws of a HellBeast born of my own dishonor.
The wind howls like a tortured animal, mourning beyond hopelessness.
I stand there transfixed by the oppressive darkness, confounded by the impossibility of it all.
This was not supposed to be my life.
Slowly I force my consciousness to the surface, trading one torment for another: the all-too-familiar emptiness of another day without your smile.
I dress myself automatically, force myself to take a breath, and pick up my practiced mask of pleasantness on the way out the door.
I go through the motions of life. I keep busy, smiling the half-smile that never quite reaches my eyes and holding up the barriers between this reality and the darker one inside.
"How Ya doin' today?"
They always choose that meaningless greeting. I hate that question. The irony is that if they knew, they most certainly would not ask.
Busy is good. I try not to touch anything on the inside but...
occasionally a stray thought will arc like lightning, seemingly from nowhere back into my memories, illuminating a picture of your perfect beauty, nude, wanting me, offering yourself to me.
My body jolts from the shock and if anyone has seen my reaction, they will ask, "Are you OK?"
My blinking response is always, "Uhh... Yeah. Same as always."
I can't wait to get away from them all and just be alone in my misery.
I exist in this dark reality, imprisoned by the mask, because no one wants to see my love for you.
I do not have the strength to wear it, and I cannot function at all without it.
So I paint over the cracks again tonight with my tears.
It has to be ready in the morning.