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Masks (standard:drama, 2490 words)
Author: MouseAdded: Oct 16 2000Views/Reads: 2285/1350Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
thinking piece about a woman coming to terms with her crumbling marriage and her brother's death. Hope it entertains you . . .


She had filed the report late Thursday night, and after that, there was
nothing to do but wait.  He'll turn up, they had said.  Just wait.  And 
she had waited.  But she had waited for this.  Somehow, some part of 
her had known.  It is three days after Han's disappearance when the 
first cop shows up at her door. 

Early morning and Lin is still in her robe, the dark colored silk
slinking about her bare legs as she steps back to let the officer in.  
She runs a hand through her sleep-rumpled hair, already weary at the 
day.  She knows what he will say before he says it. 

"Mrs. Graham, I'm sorry to be calling this early."  He rolls his eyes
back and forth like marbles in his big head, unwilling to meet her 
steady gaze.  "We've located a body.  We think it's . . . well, we'd 
like you to come down to the station." 

Lin blinks.  The apartment is cold.  There is a window open somewhere;
she should shut it.  Yes, that's . . . no, she cannot do this.  She 
cannot fight it this way.  The officer stands before her, his fat, 
shapeless face red and sweating under his cap.  She shakes her head and 
sighs, not surprised at how weak her legs suddenly feel.  She takes a 
few tentative steps backwards. 

"Yes, of course," she replies, the voice in her mouth hollow and stiff
and not her own.  "Just let me dress . . . " 

She turns on her heel and wanders off into the guestroom where she has
been staying.  Inside, it takes only a moment for her to gather her 
self-control about her, clutching its frayed edges like the corners of 
an old, worn blanket.  The walls in the bedroom are graced with 
photographs, his photographs, creative gems that seem to leap from 
their frames with life.  The cover of National Geographic.  A spread 
from Lens.  His photographs.  We've located a body.  She shudders and 
slips out of her robe. 

In the car the policeman is quiet, guilty almost, Lin thinks.  He
fiddles with the controls on his dash, keeping busy but accomplishing 
nothing really.  He speaks once, his voice tight and strained beneath a 
guise of casualty. 

"So he was a . . . a big photographer, huh?  That's neat.  It's really
too bad." 

Lin does not bother to reply.  People who talk like this, she thinks, do
not really want to talk.  She lets him find his way back out of the 
conversation.  He returns to fiddling with the dials.  She folds her 
slender hands upon her lap and waits. 

At the station, she is shuttled down to the morgue, their footsteps
echoing off the cold concrete steps.  A form lies on a metal table 
beneath a sheet in a small room.  On other tables, there are similar 
forms, but somehow she knows even before being told.  This is the one.  
This is him.  Someone pulls back the sheet and she looks. 

It is not as bad as she imagined it would be.  He is pale, a little
bluish, but peaceful, she thinks.  His face is frozen in place like a 
photograph, like in a photograph, where a single, solitary moment is 
captured on paper and drawn out for all eternity.  The scar above his 
thin lips is stark in the eerie blue light. 

"Mrs. Graham?" 

Lin shakes herself back.  He is dead, she thinks, the words echoing
inside her head.  My brother is dead. 

"Yes, that's him . . . " she manages.  She wants terribly to sit down;
instead a strong arm enfolds her shoulders and squeezes briefly.  She 
swallows hard.  A lone tear strays from the well of her eye and courses 
down the mask of her face, but it is alone.  I will not.  I will not 
let myself cry here. 

There are a lot of questions to be answered after that, and Lin is
shuffled upstairs.  Hours pass.  She sits in a plush, swiveling 

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