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Masked (part 1)

by Briar

Masked (part 1)

“Hey, what's this over here?” John called from the corner.
“What's what, honey?” Sue responded, without looking up from her box.
“This mask,” John said, standing. “I don't remember this from your old place.”
Sue turned to look at John, wondering what on earth he could be talking about. The two had decided to find an apartment together weeks ago, and had just gotten all of their boxes to the new place that morning. They had spent the past few days ass-deep in the moving process, and Sue wanted nothing more than to be done. As much as she liked John's curiosity, if he stopped her for every little thing he didn't recognize, she might not achieve that goal for weeks.
When she saw what John had found, though, Sue's budding frustration turned to genuine curiosity. John was holding up what looked like a white porcelain mask. She couldn't make out any details from across the room, but Sue already knew that she'd never seen it before in her life. She got up and went to get a closer look.
“Is it yours?” John asked.
“It must be, if it's in with the rest of my stuff...” Sue said, trailing off as she carefully took the mask from John to inspect it. It was beautiful. The face was clearly female, all soft lines and gentle curves, with a dainty nose. Though most of its features were worked into the porcelain to some degree, they had all been highlighted with paint. The lips were fashioned into a demure smile and painted red, the cheeks were a light pink. The eyes were what really caught Sue's attention though. While every part of the mask was certainly beautiful, Sue could tell that the artist had paid special attention to the eyes. After inspecting them closely, Sue saw that they were not closed, as she had originally thought, but instead were looking down with the lids lowered. To compliment the smile, Sue realized. They were lined in a heavy black, with a lilac shadow painted on. A long set of false lashes extended from them, and just above the brows were thin and elegantly arched. It was a gorgeous mask.
“Do you recognize it?” John asked, breaking Sue's concentration.
“No... and I think that I would, you know? Something as pretty as this...”
“I know what you mean.”
“How did this even end up in the box? I didn't pack it, and I'm guessing you didn't either. The rest of the box is my stuff, right? It's not an extra from the last people who rented the truck or anything?”
“Yeah, it's definitely yours. I've got every last detail of that red lingerie set safely tucked away, no way I wouldn't recognize that.”
“Wait, you got that box?” Sue asked, startled.
“You think I'd miss an opportunity like this?” John asked, smiling.
“Mhm,” Sue replied, smirking back.
“Anyway, maybe your brother packed it?” John said, getting back to the topic at hand.
“Maybe, but he was mostly carrying stuff out to the truck.” Besides, that would mean Thomas had been in her underwear box too, which Sue didn't want to think about.
“However it got in there, we've got it now.”
“Yeah, I guess we do. I don't even know what to do with something like this.”
“I don't know, we could put it on display somewhere, it'd be a shame for it to just sit in some closet.”
“I meant more along the lines of getting it back to wherever it belongs.”
“Maybe it belongs here? Maybe you've been calling to it across space and time, and now, after years of searching, it's found its way home.”
Sue laughed.
John smiled, took the mask from Sue, and held it up next to her face. “Look, it even seems like it would fit you.”
“I don't think you're supposed to wear it.”
“No way, it's obviously not for me. You are.” John moved the mask to the side a bit, so it lined up with Sue's face. He'd been joking at first, but now that he looked at it, the mask did look like it might fit.
“Fine, smart ass. People aren't supposed to wear it. It's not for wearing.”
“I guess you're right,” John said, pulling the mask away from Sue's face.
Sue smiled again and turned around, making her way back to the box she had left half-unpacked. She was only a few steps away when she heard John say something.
“Wait a minute, what's this?”
“Something else you don't recognize?” Sue asked, that bud of frustration starting to pop up again.
“No, it's the mask. Come look at this.”
Sue walked back to John, wondering what he might have discovered this time.
“You might be wrong about the whole 'it's not for wearing' thing,” John said, once she got close. He held the mask up a bit, facing away from them, and thumbed at the side just above the eye. A small piece of the mask's edge moved as he rubbed it, enough so that John could grab it between two fingers and pull. When he did, a long ribbon extended from the side of the mask.
“What the fuck?” Sue asked, watching as her fiancé pulled nearly a foot and a half of ribbon from the side of the mask.
“Look, there's a matching thing on the other side,” John said, repeating the process on the other edge of the mask.
“That's wild.”
“I think it gets wilder.”
John shifted his hands down a little, and thumbed at another piece of the mask, still on the side, but a few inches lower than where the first ribbon started. Sue saw what he was going for before John got there, and wasn't surprised to see a third ribbon slip from the edge of the mask, nor was she when John pulled a fourth from the opposite side.
“Wow,” Sue whispered.
“Oh yeah,” said John. “What do you say? Want to try it on?”
“Are you kidding, I'd break it in a minute.”
“Oh, no way, come on, it'll be fun.”
“Why don't you try it on?”
“We've been over this, sweetie, like, minutes ago,” John said with a smile.
Sue smiled back. To be honest, she did kind of what to put it on. It was so pretty, and it really did look like it would fit her. She wasn't entirely sure why she was so hesitant about it, but she could already tell it wouldn't take much more from John to get her into the mask.
“Fine, if you don't want to, I'll put it away.”
Sue's heart sank. It must have shown on her face.
“Ha, I saw that. You think you can slip that kind of thing by me. I think not,” John said, grinning.
“Gah, alright, fine, you got me, I want to try it on,” Sue responded, smiling herself.
“Trying to pull one over on your fiancé, of all the nasty tricks, you'd think we hadn't been together for 6 years...” John muttered to himself as he stepped closer, holding the mask up to Sue's face.
“But, only if you try it on next,” Sue said with a grin, holding a hand up to stop the mask before it reached her.
“Have we not established this? I thought we established this.”
“Nope, that's the deal, you want to see me in it, I want to see you in it, we compromise.”
“Yeah, but you also want to try it on.
“I didn't say it was totally fair.”
“Fine, have it your way, I'll try it on next,” John agreed, smiling.
“Excellent,” Sue replied, smiling as well. She closed her eyes, pulled her hair back behind her head and up, so John would be able to tie the ribbons, and waited to feel the cool porcelain against her face. As the mask reached her, she moved one hand around to hold it in place while John tied it on. He made the fit snug, tying it on in such a way that all four of the ribbons were worked into one knot at about Sue's eye level. Once it was on, Sue dropped her hands to her sides, and felt her mind go blank.


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