DUCHESS OF MASKS
203 words by Stanley Lieber
What I hold in my left hand is different from what I hold in my right. What is on my face is different still. I have so many choices of how to proceed.
At any moment an alarm will sound and I will be discovered. Sitting in this chair, looking over these files, wearing whichever face has fallen into place as they burst through the door. How will they see me? It is of no consequence what they will think.
The gray backdrop of what I have learned here throws what I know of our history into menacing relief; paper shadows under fluorescence and lost thoughts in the drawer. Which eyes will I use to record these discoveries? With no apparent prejudice I select a mask and peer through its gates, rifling numerous papers and file folders spread across the floor. A slender cord tethers me to the machine under my cushioned seat, which interprets the ambient state of the room.
Through these eyes.
Oh, Saito. I am afraid that I cannot clean these tracks from the floor. Your actions have plunged a polished knife into the swollen belly of our tracking. It is, in fact, you who is splayed out here on the floor. A descending pattern of guilt.
Would that I were here when it happened, all those years ago.
Would that you had listened.
To be continued...
illustration by bluecalico