The door opens a bit and someone peeks in through its small gap. The light that shines behind makes that person appears as a creature of silhouette, awaits.
“Don’t be afraid,” says Lonent. She smiles the politest among us. “You may join us if you want—or just to see what we are, if you ever wondered.”
She then pokes me and Anerol who stands besides her, beckons us to share a smile or just a humble friendly curves of our lips for our mysterious guest. When I begin to smile, the door opens wider and that silhouette creature paces forward, getting closer to us makes it clearer to see what the real truth is. It’s turn out to be a He.
His smiles so charming but it looks weird because I can see through his eyes the sadness that he cannot avoid. The same thing that happened to me when I found this place and saved by Lonent.
“Do you want me to hug you?” asks Lonent. She doesn’t wait for the answer and embraces him when they are close enough. Less then five seconds, the hug turns into a crying chain. He started it unwillingly and unpreventablely. But there is no tears that comes out of his eyes. I know why.
“It is okay,” says Lonent, calming him with the smooth caress on his back. “I know what you have been through.”
“I did not know that I have been wearing this bloody mask as long as I can remember,” he says. When Lonent realeses him off her hug, he opened his mask and a face full of sadness appears. No smile at all but tears that flowing down like a river in each of his eyes. Sincerely sad.
“This place is safe for you. So, don’t you worry. For a second, you have to forget about everything, whatever it is, out there.”
“I can make a cup of tea, if you like,” offers Anerol. “Or coffee? Say whatever, please.”
“I think he needs a glass of water,” I say.
“Make me coffee,” commands Lonent. “There will be a touching story that we will hear this time.”
Anerol moves to the kitchen and disappears behind the wall. I can hear low noises he makes to boil the water.
Lonent holds the guest’s arm and takes him to the couch. He sits next to her, and right in front of me.
“So, how should we call you?” Asks Lonent. “You don’t have to answer it if you’re not ready. Or you can make a cool pseudonym so we can call you in a proper way. You know, not with just ‘hey you!’.”
He puts his mask on the table and starts looking at it for a long time, making a long silence.
“I’m Kroste,” he says. “I came here because I need a place to hide. I’m tired wearing this mask. I don’t even know why I even have one. It makes my face feels like burning. I tried to put it off once, but a friend of mind caught me red handed and he called me a monster. Look at me. Do I look like a monster?”
I shake my head immedietly with a straight face to show him that not only I don’t agree with that, but also because he does have a pretty face. When he turns into Lonent, she also gives him the same impression.
“Who said that?” added Anerol . He comes in bringing a tray. He puts a cup of coffee in front of Lonent and then hands over a glass of fresh water to Kroste. “Look at you! An angelic face like this. Who ever says it’s monstrous must be blind or tasteless in beautifulness. Am I right, Rakein?”
“He was wrong, of course,” cheers Lonent. “He was just surprised because he didn’t know about you. With a privilage of un-masked-face, he thought people like you were actually a myth, not exist.”
Kroste’s eyes wander and stop at the fireplace where a small flame gnawing some firewoods. As he realizes something, he draws his sight down and stares at his mask with a painful look. “Should I burn this?” He asks.
“No,” answers Lonent wisely. “Trust me, dear, you need this. You have to go back outside and when you do that, this mask will keep you safe. You were lucky because your friend did not try to kill you. You can’t put it off untill you are ready. Except here, the only place where wearing this is an anathema.”
“Why do we have a mask and why some people don’t? It’s not fair.”
“Noone was born with a mask,” I add. “The thing is, people don’t realize that there is a difference between us and they start guessing that we are the same. So, the masks are actually made out of assumptions that noone realizes. Our parents, they put too much talcum powder when we were a baby which was apparently not for us. That things turnt into a new face that they expected us to be and hid our real face. That is how it was made, untill we reach on certain age and realize that we are depend on it. ”
“It’s true,” agrees Lonent.
“What should I do here?” wonders Kroste.
“Everything,” coaches Lonent. “As long as you like it, and as long as you don’t cross the line between you and others. Noone will judge you here.”
“Untill you are ready.”
Kroste observes Lonent from head to toe with a judgemental look. “Where is your mask?” he interrogates. And then he looks at me and Anerol and gives us the same look, asking to answer the same question.
I grope deep in my trousers pocket and pull out a simple mask of mine. Anerol does the same thing. And when His eyes go back to Lonent, She shows him a smile with a shrug. “I burnt it.”
A gasp of horror appears in his face. “Why?”
“Because I was ready. Should there be any other reasons?” shoots Lonent. Before Kroste asks another question, Lonent adds, “And I don’t regret it. Never.”
“Was it hard?”
“Is it hard?” corrects Lonent with the stress on the first line. “Of course. But I’m happier than before.”
There is no more trace of tears in his face. He begins to calm and his voice is getting stable. The sadness in his eyes has disappeared changed by his sincere smile, makes his looks more tender than before. As a new person here, he looks as vulnerable as I was when the first time I stepped in.
Just like most of a new comer, he brought more than one story and none of that was funny, though almost all of that was laughable. We didn’t cry, but we did respect him with a full silence for him so he felt comfortable to keep talking.
“You came at the right place and time,” I say when he finished his story. I give him my most serious look and stand up. I walk slowly to the fireplace when I know his eyes is following me with a full of curiousity. My mask, that i hold tight in my right hand, I throw it into the flame and watch it burns and turns it into ashes.
The door opens. Some people are standing in the wide-open door in a shape of silhouette, waiting for something that have been promised.
“You know what? I am ready,” I tell him as I walk to the door. The mob shows me a bunch of faces with smiles for me. I know them, my old friends who were used to be here like me. As I come to them, they cheer and embrace me with love.
“Come, on,” says one of them.
I walk out. But I stop after the first step. I turn back and look at those three people. Lonent and Anerol smile at me, give me a support and trust. They believe in me. And then I look at Kroste right through his eyes. “You’ll be ready soon. For good.”