Do we really know how people are feeling or what they are thinking by just looking at their faces? Fran, the main character in my latest story, puts on a symbolic mask each day before she faces the outside world. She ensures that the worry lines soften and the taut line of her mouth becomes her trademark smile once again so that no one will guess what is happening to her behind closed doors. She feels ashamed of the abuse she is suffering at the hands of her all-controlling husband, Max.
There is a real, porcelain mask in the story too. It's ironic, perhaps, that they should have chosen that mask at such a happy time when on honeymoon in Venice.
My writing buddy, Helen, recently visited Venice and I asked her if she had any photos of masks she could send me. I'd written the first draft of my story when she was away and had described the Venetian mask as being a violet colour with an almost indigo sheen, edged with gold lustre beads. In my mind, I was using the shades of the bruising hidden on Fran's body. Imagine my surprise when I received Helen's photo of a mask that was on the wall of her hotel. Not the indigo I had described in my story, maybe, but enough violet and gold for it to be a real coincidence!
At the end of the story, the real mask is shattered during a struggle when Fran leaves Max and she no longer has a need for the symbolic mask either. The daily masquerade is over for her and the story concludes on a hopeful note.
Have you used an object in a similar way in any of your stories? I'd love it if you shared your ideas and left a comment.
Thank you for reading. You may follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.