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Short story written in 2015

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I had been told I am insane. And I believed them. I had been told I am worse than them. And I believed them. They had dragged me through the dirt and I believed clay is my natural colour. They laugh at me when I talk to them frankly, without euphemisms. They call me mental, but I’m just trying to be honest, carefully choosing words for describing my boiling feelings as precise as possible, for they can be understood once and for all. But, it’s pointless, they keep laughing at my face calling me mental. Don’t they see I’m not joking? Don’t they see sense in my words? And I believe them. I am crazy, and everything I say doesn’t make any sense. I need help. I need their help. Only they can teach one how to change, to become like them, one of them. And they reply arrogantly: “So be one, be normal!” as if it’s that simple, just wave your hand and it’s done. Easy for them to say, they haven’t seen other life, they haven’t dared to. “Live like us and stop being stupid” and then “grow up already. You are too unpredictable, like a little kid. We are tired of protecting you from dangers you bring on yourself.” And I believe them. But no matter how much I try, I can’t understand what it is to be normal. And how can I become normal without even understanding the definition of this word, never mind the lifestyle. I really am crazy, if trying to understand the definition of a simple word confuses me. And so, if they are the majority, this means that I am wrong and they are right – I am not well.

But after a while I started noticing that their help wasn’t helping. It was plain and useless. They’re happy and they smile. They are celebrating the fact that I believe them, and asked for their help after all. Their looks became even more arrogant and bearing even more proud. But they are hiding something, I can see that, I observe that in every their glance, in every gesture, as if they hide the true meaning of something I am looking for so long. I think this world is a theatre, and the script was written long ago by someone completely strange to me. All plays are cheap and trivial, contrived as if there was never any script; all the actors making up their lines as they go along. I have a sneaking suspicion that I am the only one who wasn’t ready for this show. How did I end up in this place and what am I doing here? But it is not important. What’s important is that I’m bored of this show I’m not part of. I want to leave, but there is no way I can get off the stage, they aren’t letting me out. They are doing everything to keep me from finding the exit as if they’ve planned it ahead of time. And the stage is tall. They are telling me I’m mad and there is no way out, that I am wasting my time looking for an exit. They told everyone about my search and everybody ridiculed me, again. Again I am ashamed and dragged through the dirt. And I believe them. Once again I go back to my position without a text and role; stand there and watch their performance which I am not part of. But very soon they notice that I’ve moved away a little from my spot, out of boredom and nonparticipation, thinking about something other than the show. They scream at me, frightening with their fierce looks and keep me from daydreaming making me stand still until my turn comes. But scene after scene flies by, and I try as hard as I can not to fall asleep, I’m waiting; I keep waiting for my turn to perform, but it never comes. And I get haunted again by the same thought, that somewhere there is a ladder that will lead me out of this damned stage. I am thinking again of a way out. Seriously, how can one be crazy if he’s just dreaming about getting out and tail away, just leave without bothering anybody, quietly?

“Who’s going to watch their show then?” Someone asked.

I looked at Him surprised but couldn’t get a good look at His face, only His eyes got stuck in my mind – light grey, profound, like burning with a chilling glance, not frightening but sort of calming.

He continued:

“No wonder what you were just thinking. You look different, not like them.”

“I’m made of clay, I’m grey,” I answered.

“Like all of us, except you have no mask.”

I started to look around; I became ashamed that I’m not wearing any mask. I started comparing myself to others looking for at least someone without a mask, naked like me, to ease my torment at least a bit. Everyone around was marble white, with painted eyes, luxurious whiskers, with curls and wigs. Only I stand alone as if bare.

“What do I need a mask for? I have a different role.”

“It’s a masquerade,” Somebody said. “So you’re not involved in it because you have no mask. And you have no role, because you have no image.”

“But this masquerade is plain and dull. I don’t even want to be part of it, and I’m tired of standing here doing nothing”, but suddenly I came to my senses “who are you?”

“I am a jester.”

I looked into His crystal eyes. They were blazing with sincerity.

“But actually?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I only know I’m playing a jester, and I hate it. Listen lad,” he said suddenly in a crazed whisper, “don’t trust anyone who wears a mask, not even me. People in masks stop being themselves; they become the images they wear. They put on masks to hide their grey clay colour, considering it unattractive and prosaic”, he paused for a moment “Did you know that while you’ve been standing here waiting for your role, your clay dried up a long time ago, and you’re no longer grey. You’ve turned white, naturally, without a mask. In fact, they’ve turned white too, that’s in the nature of clay, only they don’t know it. They got used to their masks and are afraid to take them off, like a girl who’s afraid to leave the house without makeup.”

“Does that mean I’m the same now as everyone else on this stage?” I said, brightening up.

“It doesn’t mean anything as long as you are staying here. You have to decide now to step up and play some kind of role, by the way, any role you want, for you have a richer spectrum of choices, you aren’t wearing a mask, or you can quietly slip away. Now you can dare to make this decision, you know the truth.”

“I’ve been waiting for this moment for so long!” I shouted thrilled, as if I’d just awoken from a coma. ”Finally it’s my turn!”

A waltz was playing, elegant couples whirled around, and ribbons sparkled, releasing expensive perfume into the air... The last thing I heard before a harp lulled my mind with a magical melody was, “Now you are your mask.”

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