❝ and if no one sees you, are you really there at all? ❞

24. MASQUERADE.
Posted Saturday, February 7, 2015 // 9:35 PM



 Stella stared at her laptop’s screen for about 2 minutes. She then hovered the cursor to the “Buy” button and clicked it without hesitation. She waited for the page to load. After making sure her purchase succeeded, she turned off the laptop and threw herself to bed. Her mind wandered off as always. The package will arrive tomorrow, at least that was what the seller guaranteed. She wondered if anybody has ever done the same. A thousand of questions popped up into her mind. ‘What if somebody knows?’ ‘Will it make a change?’ ‘Have I done the right thing?’ A few more questions came into her mind until a dream started to occur. She then fell soundly asleep.

 The next day, Stella woke up to a soft knock on her door. “Uhh, come in,” she mumbled. A tall, beautiful, middle-aged lady came in to her room. “What is it, mum?” she questioned sleepily. Her mum then handed her a package and suddenly, she was wide awake. She snatched the package greedily, could not wait another minute to open it, but then she remembered that her mum was still in the room. “Do you mind, mum?” She gave a her the soft and sweet smile, the same one that Stella inherited from her mum, and walked out of the room. After making sure that her mum was not peeping, she opened the package. Not a while after that, a grey-coloured mask with a little touch of blue, exactly the same as she saw it online last night, appeared into her sight. She carefully took it out of the plastic, and began to wear it. 

---

 Keith’s eyes wandered off to the crowd. As always, he looked for the same thing, though he always got the same result. Instead, his eyes glued to his reflection in the glass. A light yellow-coloured mask, the same as everyone else’s in school. Everyone wore different coloured mask to show their personality. Red represents courageous, gold represents wealth, green represents well-being, and light yellow represents joyful. Each colour has their own representatives. Well, even colour has its dark sides. People in school rarely to be found in a grey or black mask because grey represents mentally ill, or depressed. Meanwhile black represents death. 

 He felt a pat on his shoulder, he turned around. He smiled instantly after he saw his friends. But his attention was attracted by a glimpse of a grey colour, which he rarely saw. His friend said something but he could not listen to any of it. 

 “Excuse me,” he said as he pushed a girl out of his way. But he failed to trail it. The grey colour went out of his sight. He let out a grunt of frustration. He turned around to his friend. “Dude, what’s happening?” He just ignored the question and rushed to his locker. As he was picking up his book, the bell rang. His friends started to approach him, but he quickly walked away from them and went straight off to Math class.

 Keith could not pay his attention fully to the class. He kept thinking. Who was so brave to wear their emotion publicly? Even Keith did not have the guts to do the same. The same question has been inside his mind until lunch time. He knew that he should find that dauntless person. As soon as he stepped outside of the classroom, his eyes started to do as the brain told. To find the grey-coloured masked person. 

 Probably that day was his lucky day because he caught the person, a girl who wore the grey-coloured mask, walking past in front of him. He has the urge to stop the girl, but he decided to follow the girl instead. Keith let out a sigh of relief. His brain has already prepared a few question he was going to ask to that girl. He rehearsed it inside his head. 

 Without realising that the girl stopped walking in the middle of the way to cafeteria, Keith accidentally hit her. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realise you were there,” Keith apologised to her. “That’s alright, nobody does,” the girl looked into Keith’s eyes and smiled. He could feel a hit of sensation. The smile was so familiar to him, just like the one that usually did whenever he was with his friends. 

 “I’m sorry to ask this, but are you really depressed?” Keith realised that he should not really ask that. He was ready to take his word back when he saw the girl’s expression went puzzled. “Why do you ask?” the girl then questioned him. Keith looked around to make sure his friends were not anywhere closer than them. He grabbed the girl’s hand and led her to the library because that was the closest he could get. They went to the back shelves. 

 After Keith assured that nobody was eavesdropping, he glared at the girl for a while. He then took off the light yellow-coloured mask, revealing the same kind of mask as the girl wore. A grey with a little touch of blue-coloured mask. The girl gasped as if she was taking her last breath that she could get into her lungs. “I know, I have been hiding this for so long. Please don’t tell this to anyone. This is a secret between us,” he uttered under his breath. The girl was still speechless. She shook her head, “But you don’t know me. How can you trust me?” 

 Keith began to tremble, he was on the verge of breaking down. He realised that he has made a perilous step. Suddenly, he felt a soft touch on his shoulder, “Hey, don’t worry. I won’t tell anyone. You can trust me.” The girl handed out a tissue to him. “I’m Stella by the way.” she stated. Keith exhaled, picking back up the courage to talk without stuttering, “Keith.” he faked a smile.


---

 Stella recalled the situation that happened two weeks before, during lunch at school. She looked at the mirror and examined every part of her face. She has a really clear and glowing face. But she did not know what beautiful really looked like. Because she has never seen an unmasked person all her life. She was not born with a mask. She was always been the odd one in the family and hated it. People always gave her the skeptical look like she was an outcast. She gazed at the mask that she bought the night before the incident happened. She thought it was a splendid idea so she could fit in with others. She chose grey, not like she suffered depression or anything. Probably because she has been longing for the attention since she was little. Her vision has been playing the same thing all over again. When Keith started to reveal his true colour.

 As she came out from the school by the next day, she could see Keith was waiting for her. After the incident, Keith wore his true colour to school. Ever since the day he started to wear it, his friends would not come any nearer. Stella felt the guilt started to grow bigger each day. Keith gave her the same smile everyday as she approached him. “So where are we going?” Stella asked. Everybody was giving them the unpleasant look.

 “Why don’t we go to the old building?” Stella agreed, could not wait any longer with the stares that they received. The sky began to show the sign that it was going to rain. The sun started to hide behind the clouds. Not a while after that, a few droplets started to fall and began to drizzle. They walked swiftly and finally managed to get to the building before the rain started to pour heavily. 

 The tapping sound occurred from the rain echoed throughout the angle of the building. She took a glance at Keith who was looking at her. “What?” questioned Stella who was shivering. “Nothing, it’s just...” Keith shook his head, letting the beads of water spat from his hair. “I feel like I’m fading. Like,” “What do you mean?” Stella asked before Keith could continue. 

 “I don’t know, lately my depression has become worse. I couldn’t eat for days. I feel numb throughout the night. I couldn’t sleep. I feel like I shouldn’t wear my true colour in the first place,” Keith started to sob. “With all of my friends started to avoid me. It’s not like having a mental disorder is what I wanted.” As always, Stella couldn’t find words to comfort Keith. She was always bad at this. She has no idea how to make Keith feels better because she wasn’t depressed. She did not know what having a depression felt like. All she could do right now was holding Keith the same way her mum held her when she was little, when people were teasing her for not having a mask. 

 “Keith, you are strong. Ever since the first day I saw you smiled in that grey mask. You are brave, Keith. You have shown to your friends who you really are.” as Stella was saying this, she could feel that her mask was slipping. 

 The moment Keith started to move, she began to panic. As Keith looked her in the eyes, the mask fell. Her heart pounded so loudly, she could even hear it. Her true self has been revealed. Needless to say, the reaction that she got from Keith. Keith’s eyes were widely opened as though it could fall out of his head. Keith uttered out of disbelief but she could not hear it because of the sound of the rain hitting the roof. “Wha-? After all this time? You have been hiding under that mask?” Stella tried to reach him but he moved away from her. “I’m sorry, Keith. I’m sorry. I have never had a mask. I’m sorry... I,” “BUT YOU COULD HAVE CHOSEN OTHER MASK. WHY BLUE? Why? Why depression?” Keith interrupted in the middle of her explanation.

 “because... because I have been longing to become in the centre of attention. I just want people to feel sorry for me.” exclaimed Stella, trying to fight the sound of thunder. Stella could see the hurt in Keith face. “Do you think by living in depression, in any mental illness, people will feel sorry for you? They won’t. Haven’t you see the disgust in people’s faces when they saw us? Mental illness is like a curse. People won’t treat us the same as they treat people who suffer cancer. All they would say is ‘Get over it. It’s just depression. What could be worse than that?’ EVERYTHING.” Keith screamed out the truth.

 “You feel like you are trapped in your own mind, your own body. Nowhere to escape, nowhere to bound. Whenever you try to recover, you will always relapse. Just like a rubber band. No matter how far you go, or how far you stretch, you will get back to the same place. It will get you nowhere.” Keith sobbed. His face was wet from the mix of tears and raindrops. 

 Nobody has ever tell the truth to her. She was being selfish. She could see the disgust in Keith’s face. “I’m sorry, Keith,” she tried to apologise but the words seemed to stuck in her throat. Abruptly, Keith fell onto his knees. His mask has turned to black. Stella felt a stab of knife went through her heart. I killed him, she thought. Stella rushed to him and tried to reach him, but he has become a wisp of air. Stella body started to filled with fear. Fear of losing Keith. Two weeks felt like two decades. Like they have known for ever. 

  “Don’t wear that mask, Stella. You’re beautiful.”

 Keith has blended in with the wall. Just a blink of an eye, he was gone. The only thing left was his mask.“KEITH!” Stella cried. She screamed with all her heart. She knelt down to the floor and sobbed. Stella laid on the ground, she cried and cried and cried until her eyes could not produce tears any longer. Her clothes was soaked with water from the puddle. Not sure whether from the rain or her tears. 

 She knew it all along that Keith’s mask was slowly turning into dark grey. She realised it, but she chose to ignore it. She was just a narcissist. If only she could rewind the time, but that was the problem. She could not. You cannot change the nature. But maybe the nature could change her.

 Stella got off the ground and took the masks. She started to walk slowly to Keith house. She left his mask at the front door. The only thing that she could hear was the last thing ever that Keith has said to her. Her steps stopped when she saw her reflection in the puddle. She took a last glance at her mask. I don’t need a masquerade any longer, she whispered as she threw the mask. She knew that she has to be what she was born as. She did not need a mask because that was her true self. So what if she is not like the others? She was not an outcast. Unique, that was what she meant to be. Ever since that day, she confidently walked through the crowd, unmasked

HEY GUYS. so yeah. i know i've promised you the short fanfic but i just couldn't get it done. and i started a new short story instead lol so yeah the mask thing is kinda new to me hahaha also i feel like this one is shorter than usual. i hope you like it. and apologies to all the error. heheheh. love you. thanks for reading. x


Carpe Librum,
L. 


photo credits to WeHeartIt. horribly edited by me. 

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