Prompt Day #145: Put a mask over someone who deserves it.
Tabitha stood at the mirror practicing the expressions she planned to use later this evening; shock, disbelief, and most importantly there had to be tears, inconsolable tears. Crying on command would be difficult, especially when she would really want to throw her head back and laugh. She leaned in closer. She saw fear and uncertainty beneath her false emotions and assured herself that these, of course, would be gone by the time the news arrived that her poor husband had died in a terrible accident. The plan would work, it had to. Adam had promised her that Senator Davids would never make it to the masquerade tonight. And then, he’d calmly explained, after a suitable public mourning period, they would be free to be together.
At last, it was time. She tied the White Rabbit mask and tried to ignore the trembling in her hands. She gave herself a reassuring smile in the mirror, happy that the mask shaded her eyes’ fearful betrayal. Adam would be dressed as the Mad Hatter. It was his idea. He said they belonged in a wonderland. He chose the rabbit for her and gave her a lovely gold watch-locket to wear around her neck. She clutched it as she was ushered into the car waiting to take her to her future. Tabitha watched the world she’d come to know pass by as they drove. Washington D.C. was its own kind of wonderland. She remembered feeling much like Alice when William was first elected to the Senate and they’d moved here. She was so in love then and the move held such promise and excitement. Optimism soon gave way to loneliness and disgrace as she realized, much like the little girl who went through the looking glass, that the world she found herself in was strange and dangerous. But now, there was Adam, the Senator’s aid, to fill the void and make sense of her new reality.
Tabitha entered the ballroom and surveyed the crowd. Adam would be wearing a large purple top hat; that was how she would know. When she saw the hat, she would know it was done. Her eyes hop-scotched over queens, tropical birds, and long-nosed harlequins. She did not see the Hatter before she was enveloped into the circle of other abandoned wives. Tabitha forced smiles and uttered the appropriate responses all the while surreptitiously watching the entrance for arrival of the purple hat or even the police with some unfortunate news for Mrs. Davids.
She felt a hand on her shoulder and jumped as a voice whispered “May I have this dance?” She turned to see first, the unnaturally large smile on the full-faced mask topped with a large ostentatiously-colored hat. She smiled, relaxed for the first time that night, and nodded. As they danced, he pulled her close.
“Take your mask off so I can look at you.” She did. He removed his hat and mask as well.
“I have some unfortunate news about Adam” her husband whispered.