The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

The Mask

The paragraph below is a flash which could not be longer than 100 words. The prompt was Carnival. I hope you enjoy it. I titled it: The Mask.

Maria looked at her reflection in the mirror. Her face had been scarred and rendered grotesque by the fire. She had been beautiful before that fateful day, but now … no man would look at her twice and on her infrequent visits outside her home she was taunted by young and old.
Lovingly, she held up the mask that was lying before her and gently caressed its contours. Half sun, half moon; light and shadow. Perfect. It would hide all her imperfections. She smiled. During Carnival she could be herself again. There would be no need to hide.

I find Carnival a bit of a tedious time but I have always had a fascination with the Carnival in Venice because the masks and the costumes are so lavish and beautiful. My husband and I have been lucky to visit Venice twice, never during the Carnival, but the masks are available for purchase all year round. This particular one is not half sun, half moon, as in my flash, although these types of masks do exist. This is a mask which we bought on our first trip to Venice and is hanging on one of our walls. It is made of papier mache and is completely hand-made including the designs around the eye-slits. We bought this mask from a small store called Teatro delle Maschere (Theatre of Masks). Although countless shops sell masks, we had heard that this shop sold masks made in the traditional way and we actually saw a few being made. It is a job which takes a lot of patience and these masks do not come cheap but they are worth it. The store is in the San Polo district, not far from the Rialto bridge. We went there with a street number and no street name, we just knew the district. It took us a while to find the place and we had almost given up, having gone around countless blocks which led to a dead end or to the edge of a canal. But this strange method of finding the shop gave us an opportunity to explore certain streets and alleyways that we might not have seen had we not gone on an almost wild goose chase.

Now I know that many people are put off by masks and I agree that they can be off-putting because the person hiding behind the mask may have dark and sinister motives. Masks conjure up images of burglaries and murder, and yet, in my very short story above, I tried to look at masks from a different perspective. In this case the mask is something positive, something which allows Maria to appear normal without being taunted. I guess it is up to each one of us to help those around us fit in without making them resort to a mask. I had a few psychology lessons back when I was at college and the lecturer insisted that we all wear masks nearly all of the time. I beg to disagree with him. There are people who do wear their masks all the time but most people will wear a mask only some of the time. Am I confusing you? The masks this time are psychological , of course. Many of us will react differently when we are out of our normal environment or when we are out of our element. These are the masks which help us get through life. There is nothing sinister about them but are a method of self-preservation and a way of not getting hurt by the big bad world. Yes, there are people who wear masks for ulterior or evil motives and finally, it is these types of masks that we need to fear the most.

I hope I have not gotten too philosophical or psychological with you today. I promise my next post will be on a much lighter note.


  1. I am wearing a mask on my daughter's hen night she is having a Moulon Rouge cocktail party. I will have a wine or two and dance the night away, then become the mother of the bride again when the mask comes off :))
    Interesting blog piece!

  2. Lorna....where is the Kitty Cat Mask??? Poor Shadi will be disappointed you didn't write about her yet. Oh well, there is always tomorrow. Love the detail and your view of masks.

  3. Hi Loree...I LOVE this post..I recall you mentioning you had one..yay,found ti! I have been having fun exploring older poats i had never seen..still on the hunt for the gargoyle one!! One of my faves!! and wow..beautiful mask..gor-geous!!


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