lemming drops studio . home . prose . poetry . blog .
. art . comics . lego . store . links .
. lemming drops studio .
. content © robert e g black .

masks

Jack entered the apartment through a doorway in the north wall on Wednesday. He removed his work mask, put it in the cabinet by the door and put on his husband mask. He took a deep breath and became himself for the evening. Diane wouldn't be home for another hour; he missed her.

He plugged his umbilical cord into the television and enjoyed a couple reruns while he waited.

When Diane got home, the doorway was at the southeast corner and the mask cabinet was opposite. She didn't go to the cabinet. She'd misplaced her wife mask, or so she said. Her lover mask was in the bedroom, in the wardrobe between two folded sheets. Jack hadn't found her wife mask, though he'd been searching for two weeks.

He unplugged from the television and went to hug Diane. She greeted him simply and asked if he'd made dinner. He hadn't.

He plugged into the microwave and warmed up leftovers from the night before. They ate together at the table, mostly silent.

After dinner, they plugged into the television and passed a few hours together and Jack was happier than he'd been in quite a while. Diane grew tired and went to bed early. Jack unplugged from the television an hour later and found himself alone in a dark apartment. He brushed his teeth and made his way to the bedroom. Diane was fast asleep. She was still wearing her work mask.

Jack opened the wardrobe and put on his lover mask. Holding hers in his hand, he touched himself and pretended their relationship was new and they wore their lover masks more often than any other.

***

Jack entered the apartment through a doorway near the southwest corner on Thursday. He removed his work mask and breathed deep without any covering before donning his husband mask. The air smelled sweeter without the mask, but that wasn't how life worked.

The television was in the dining room. He thought of carrying it into the living room but instead simply plugged into it and waited for Diane to get home. She got home late. Her work mask looked tired.

After dinner, he offered her lover mask to her and hoped she'd yearn for a change. She shook her head and said she had a headache. She retired to their bedroom, ostensibly to read, but he found her sleeping with her umbilical plugged into her laptop when he went to bed.

He unplugged her from the laptop, folded it shut, and set it on the bedside table, which was closer to the door than usual. He held her umbilical in his hand for a long time, contemplating it, remembering how it felt when they last plugged into each other. He wanted his lover mask. He wanted hers. She still wore her work mask. He wondered if she'd gotten rid of her wife mask on purpose. He shook away that thought, plugged her umbilical into the alarm clock and went to the bathroom to brush his teeth before bed.

***

Jack entered the apartment through the south wall on Friday. The door was smaller than usual. The mask cabinet was nowhere to be found until he went into the extra bedroom. There were supposed to be children in there, but they had not saved enough money for mother and father masks yet. There was mostly junk, a few boxes they'd never bothered to unpack after moving in together. Jack went to the mask cabinet and put his work mask into it. He didn't immediately put on his husband mask. A few old masks were in there, gathering dust. He put on his college mask and could smell the dorm, a mix of sweat and marijuana that was strangely arousing. He laughed despite himself, removed the mask, and sat in silence, holding it in his lap.

When Diane got home, Jack was wearing his lover mask but he had his husband mask close at hand. He'd contemplated wearing his athlete mask to stimulate her attention but decided against it.

Diane was already plugged into the television when he came into the living room. She asked him what he was doing. He wanted to put one of her old masks on her, to drag her into the bedroom, or maybe not even that far, before making love to her. Her work mask looked tired and confused and not at all in the mood for his attention. He removed his lover mask, put on his husband mask and checked on the roast in the oven.

***

Saturday, there were no doors out of the apartment.

Jack woke early and looked again for Diane's wife mask, though he knew it was gone. He went to the wardrobe and found their lover masks. He put his on and carried hers to the bed. Even with her work mask on, Diane looked serene asleep, beautiful despite her age lines, beautiful despite her disinterest. He stared at her for a moment, then reached down and reached for the edge of her work mask. He thought he'd simply switch it with her lover mask, wake her, and all would be well.

He couldn't find the edge of her mask. Her skin had grown over it.

He closed his eyes and imagined her wearing her lover mask. Once upon a time, she'd worn it for a week straight, calling in sick to work and...

That seemed so very long ago now.

He returned the lover masks to the wardrobe and found his way to the mask cabinet, which was in a closet off the living room. He found an old mask from his childhood and wished that it would still fit him. He would put it on and run outside and play and everything would be bright and wonderful.

But, it didn't fit. And, it was Saturday and there were no doors out of the apartment. He plugged into the television and wondered what mood Diane would be in when she woke.