Monday, November 7, 2011


BFF 138 PINKAmy slowly opened her eyes to another day in what has become a string of like days, one following another like little troopers.

Eyes gritty from sleep, Amy stared at the ceiling and thought about that old movie about groundhogs. The one where every day starts and ends the same ~ over and over and over…

With a sigh prompted by a sharp command from her dog, Amy eased out of bed to face a new day. She will do the same thing today that she did yesterday and will do tomorrow ~ all with a mask firmly in place.

As Amy makes her way to the back door to let Buffy out for her morning constitution, she thinks about her life. Amy refers to her life as a “plastic life”. From closer to the end than the middle, she knows nothing was really real. Amy often reviews her life and the paths taken at each juncture. For the most part, life was satisfying, but there were the landmines… the things that blew up her world, forcing her to put on another mask to survive each landmine explosion. She thinks about the masks that she donned to cover the emotional hole left by brokenness within.

She wonders….”Is everyone like this?” She reviews the masks she set firmly in place at different junctures of her life.

There was the mask that covered the hurt of a child who was the recipient of the frustration, jealousy, resentment and rage of an emotionally disturbed parent. Who knew that under the mask was a child who was confused and hurt? Instead, Amy lived in a La La Land of sorts… She thinks that mask must have looked very dreamy because most of her report cards carried the same comment ~ “Amy daydreams in class”.

There is the mask of a school girl who felt worthlessness. She felt certain that everyone was better than she. From the sidelines, Amy watched the other kids, but never removed the mask. Her mask was so plain and ordinary that no one really noticed.

Amy’s teen years were most miserable, again watching by the sidelines – sure that she was unworthy to have friendships with the other kids. The teen mask was too funny and maybe a bit loud.

As a young wife, Amy donned yet another mask to hide what she endured behind closed doors. Amy quickly shifts her thoughts away from those brief three years, after which she was mercifully spared by the eternal distance of death. She never wore that mask again.

Married again with a mask that most resembled the happiness inside, Amy’s barrenness became all too apparent. She donned yet another mask of a young woman who was happy to be childless. It was a lie…

The barrenness gave Amy the opportunity to sink herself deep into a career. Oh the masks she wore throughout that career! It simply goes without saying…

The masks protected… It was never a question of “Who will protect me from the evaluations and judgments?” No. It was a matter of putting on another mask for the world to see as she thought “You don’t know me. You only know my mask…”

Now, in retirement and all alone in the world, Amy has removed all the masks except for one. That mask shows the world that she is happy, content and enjoying life in her “golden years”. It is a fairly transparent mask, allowing some of the “real Amy” to shine through and yet still hides some left over emotions.

Even in the midst of her happiness is the harsh truth that retirement gives her too much time to think. She has time to mull things over and over in her mind to explore all of the “what if’s” of her plastic life. It is an exercise in futility and best avoided. But she still goes there in her memories…

Amy’s masks covered each wound caused by brokenness. Under the remaining scars are buried emotions of fragility, anger, fear, weakness and unworthiness. Feelings of being cheated by life are nearest to the wound; more pronounced than ever due to the extraordinary recall ability of the elderly. Jealousy rears its ugly green head when life reminds her that she had no children, no grandchildren and that the likelihood of dying alone is more of a possibility than not. Who will really care? It is a fear that cannot be overcome by a successful career, money or a mask. No! It is just another reality of a plastic life.

She fears the time that old age frailty will come upon her. She fears that senility might remove her mask… Who will help her keep the mask on?

Amy is determined that no one will remove her mask after her death. She leaves no record of wrongs for a relative or solicitor to find amongst her possessions.

Even in death, she hopes no one will remove her masks.

A work of FICTION By Darlene Cirinna
© November 7, 2011
All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


  1. i LOVE this. I have written similar pieces in the past. Masks....Indeed, for me or ppl like those u write sustaining sometimes...but hide much sadness

  2. Thanks, Jeff. Although it is primarily a fictional piece, there are shades of me in this composition ~ as in most of my work. The masks do hide the sadness, but the scars remain under the masks.

    Thank you for reading and commenting. You know I love you!

  3. The masks hide so much. What a hauntingly sad piece of writing! Extremely sad that no one probably every knew this woman at all. Not really. Brilliantly written!


  4. Excellent story!! I think we all have a mask or two that we wear--or perhaps more. I think those masks are easier to wear when we are able to count our blessings.

    Cheers, Jenn.

  5. @ Kathy: She is probably a good actor too. LOL

    @ Jenn: I think it is easier to put on a mask than let the whole world know of our vulnerabilities.

    Thank you both for reading/commenting.

  6. I really enjoyed reading this, Darlene!

    It sounds like these masks might have saved her life in some way. A two edged sword I suppose.

    Nice writing!

  7. As always I felt your pain, or Amy's, as I read this and I know that the Darlene I have become friends with is wearing a mask. I also hope that with her writing the mask will ultimately be put away forever. Writing doesn't make us forget, it helps us file away the pain where it belongs, in the past. It helps us understand that because of the pain, we have become stronger and now having written of it, can remove it from our everyday life. It isn't who we are, it's just something that happened and helped us to develop into who we have become.
    Sad, but beautifully written tale.

  8. @ Linda: I believe that masks can save some people from pain. By the same token, maybe help them in denial? Yes... A two edged sword is a good analogy.

    @ Jo: I'm flattered that I have written this piece of fiction well enough to be considered real. I mentioned to Jeff that there are shades of me in this composition. The shades, specifically, are these: I was a daydreamer in school. I did not have a child of my own, but I have wonderful stepdaughters who I love as much as if I gave birth to them. And amazingly enough, they even LOOK like me! I had a fantastic career. That's it. There was no abusive Mother or first Husband. I was not widowed, I am not alone and I am not wearing any serious masks...although, I probably should sometimes. LOL.. Thank you for you have paid me the highest complement because I am better described as "transparent".

  9. Nice job Darlene. You have an absolute gift for drawing your readers in. I always enjoy your writing. -Kelly

  10. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Kelly. This is the kind of comment I yearn for. I like to know that I was able to capture and hold the interest of other people. It is half of the reason I write. The other half is for pure pleasure... Thank you again!!!