The Man Behind The Mask, written by Mary Thompson at

The Man Behind The Mask

The Man Behind the Mask

written by: Mary Thompson



I heave the enormous metal globe up over my shoulders and squeeze my head through the aperture. How I wish I could descend into the deep blue sea, but instead I position myself alongside my wife, who’s sitting ever so elegantly on the brocade divan in the studio.
‘Try to relax, dear,’ I whisper.
‘I will never forgive you for this,’ she mutters.
For the first time in my life I feel free. Within the sanctuary of the helmet, I stick out my tongue, roll my eyes and move my mouth, making all manner of weird expressions. At times I whoop and whistle, just for the sheer hell of it, while my darling wife just sits there, stiff and starchy, staring glumly into the lens.
And then I start to talk. Any darn thing that comes into my head, all the stuff I’ve bottled up over the years, stuff I should have said but never did. I feel safe under here, cocooned by all that copper. I tell her about the brave divers descending into the hostile environment of the ocean and how I yearn to be one of them. I tell her that when I think of them I feel passion, desire. And I tell her there’ll be no more pen pushing or late nights in the office for me.
Through the narrow slits of the diving helmet, I glimpse her profile; exquisite, symmetrical, perfect. Her dress is as pretty as fresh snow while a matching flower adorns her immaculate hairstyle. I am the envy of my friends for attracting a beauty like her.
While I talk, she sits there rigid, unyielding, and as soon as the whole thing is over, she flounces out in tears.
‘You could have been anyone under there,’ she sobs.
‘But I wasn’t, dear,’ I say quietly. ‘I was me.’

Mary Thompson

Mary Thompson

Mary Thompson lives in London, where she works as a freelance teacher. Her work has been long-listed, shortlisted and placed in publications and competitions including Flash 500, Fish Short Memoir, Writing Magazine, Retreat West, Reflex Fiction and the Cabinet of Heed, and are forthcoming at Ellipsis Zine.
Mary Thompson

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