image (11)She bought the mask as a gift for his 19th birthday. It took all the charm she had to talk the antique dealer down to a price she could afford, but instinctively she understood that the boy and the mask belonged to one another.

After her death, six months later, the mask took on deeper meaning. It bewitched him, whispering dark secrets and filling his head with stories and colors he never could have imagined. In pencil and ink, his fingers flew, bringing the carnival of characters trapped within the mask to life.

For the boy, grief was not something to be discussed or expressed in ordinary ways, but it bled from his fingertips onto the canvas. With dark hues and haunting detail, his own tragedies intertwined with those which the mask inspired until even he could not untangle them.

Some nights, exhausted with the effort and frustrated by the medium, he painted his face, making his own mask and took to the stage as a merry minstrel. Make ’em laugh. Make ’em cry. Make them feel … anything. Afterwards, he’d go home, wash off the paint and stare at his naked face in the mirror … feeling empty, without identity. Then he’d lie down, put the mask on and let it fill him up again.



 [This piece was written for Meg McNulty‘s Masquerade Flash Fiction blog hop. You can check out the other entries below and can also check out the art that inspired it HERE.]

You can also vote for your favorite stories from the bunch. Here’s how: You can vote for up to TWO stories – voting closes midday (GMT) Sunday 13 January 2013. There are THREE ways of voting. 

1.Click on the vote button below the thumbnail. Voting closes tomorrow.

2.Vote via Twitter by sending a Tweet to @charitygirlblog with the hashtags #12Masque #FanFav and including author, story number and story title (if known). 

3.Vote by leaving a comment below the contest post on DarcytoDionysus, including author name, story number and title (if known).

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9 Responses to Lethe

  1. ‘…his fingers flew, bringing the carnival of characters trapped within the mask to life.’ and your third paragraph, so beautifully emotive…
    just a few times in my life I’ve written like that, but to be possessed for so long…both draining and fulfilling!
    Glad you got this one out, love it!

  2. Laurustina says:

    Lisa – I’ve always called that “bat-out-of-hell creativity” because when it comes at you fast and furious like that, all you can do is try to hold on.

  3. Meg McNulty says:

    This is absolutely wonderful. It has tragedy and poetry, life and shadows. Just beautiful! And so poignant.

  4. I love the grief bleeding from his fingers, and the mask filling him back up again. Really interesting imagery!

  5. Miranda Kate says:

    Very emotive, how he deals with his grief. Beautifully written, and so expressive in such a short piece. Really enjoyed it.

  6. Short and powerful as a jackhammer. And subtle in ways my comment is not. Great work!

  7. Sophie Moss says:

    Very powerful and emotional. You covered so much in such a small piece. Really well done.

  8. Diane J Reed says:

    Gasp—that last line pierced my heart!!! “Then he’d lie down, put on the mask, and let it fill him up again.” It was a twist I wasn’t anticipating, but so emotionally true! Sometimes masks do enrich our souls—why, after all, do we love Halloween so much? Masks offer an opportunity to explore other nuances & facets of ourselves. Your story reminded me of all of that, and sent my thoughts journeying into new directions : )

  9. A sad, heart-pinchy, kick in the guts story–with a nice dollop of creepiness thrown in for good measure. Beautifully done.

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