Friday, October 10, 2008

The Mask

"The Mask"
by Delia Taylor



“I'm tired of this crap... You said you would stop. I don't think I can do this anymore!” she exclaimed.

“But it's for our own daughter, Jullian! Why can't you understand that? She needs this, we need this! Don't you want to keep our baby girl alive?”

Jullian sat in her chair and stared at Paul as if she'd never met him before.

“I think you're addicted to it, Paul. What about last week, huh? When you drew all that damn attention and almost got your face on NY 12?”

Jullian stood up and walked away from the table with Katherine in her arms. Paul grabbed her. This was how things had gotten. Ever since Katherine developed her disease, their lives had turned into endless bickering, constant cursing, and the ever-frequent “Why don't you act like the man in the family?”

“Maybe someday I will,” Paul would always answer. Jullian never expected him to make good on his word the way he did.

*


Two months after receiving Katherine's diagnosis, Paul woke up, took a long look at his slowly fading baby girl, and knew that he'd chosen the right path. He put on a black mask and got his gun out of his sock drawer.

He reminded himself of how it would go. First, he'd tell his wife, “I just need to clear my head.” Then he'd drive off to the nearest Commerce Bank. And it wouldn't be for the free pens or the red lollipops.

*


Jullian stood in the door frame crying off her makeup.

“You can't do this, Paul!” she cried. Paul was used to this. He was done yelling, done fighting a battle he couldn't win. “But don't you see how much better Katherine's gotten lately? She's smiling again, Jullian. I haven't seen her smile in so long. I'd forgotten what it looked like...”

“But that doesn't give you the right to keep breaking the law!”

Paul wrapped his arms around her waist, like he did when they were in high school. “To me it does,” he said.

He kissed her on her cheek once like he used to. He patted Katherine's head. He looked in his wallet, which had grown in size since he'd... switched professions.

He grabbed his keys and took the black mask—it was his shelter, the assurance that he'd have enough to pay for his daughter's medicine. It was the thing that filled him with adrenaline and kept his heart beating at an unnatural pace, in unnatural places, late at night.

He put the mask on and suddenly had a very clear conscience.




1 comment:

Dana said...

that was so good! can you get that published? i want to read more!