Masks and Flowers

I give him my heart and he gives me flowers. I don’t even like flowers. There’s just something about him though, something that won’t let me burn every rose and orchid down to an ashy stem.

He’s just like me sometimes. But when he shows up with the flowers, the honest heart of me wants to run away screaming.

You see, he’s always pretending, and I can’t understand why. He’s afraid only of the truth about himself. He’s the only one I’ve ever known to wear a mask inside out. I think it must be because his heart loathes his mind, or perhaps the other way around. I don’t understand it, though. If the lies and pretending hurt so much, why take part at all?

Deep inside, I think he knows the truth about it, about why he does it. I want to ask him to explain, but I’m scared of what he’ll say. We’re all too similar, he and I. The only real difference is that I don’t pretend like he does. If I’m bothered, I’m bothered. If I’m lonely, I’m lonely. I’m not saying I don’t have masks of my own, but I can tell you that mine only serve to mask, to dim what’s truly underneath. They aren’t there to put up a false front.

Regardless, tonight will be more of the same. He’ll show up at my door with a sweet-smelling bundle of irises or carnations or lilies. It won’t matter what they are. I’ll roll my eyes at him because he knows better. He’ll shrug just like always and with a broken smile, he’ll mumble something about what a beautiful night it is. This is our routine.

That’s right, this is a routine, and you surely understand that it doesn’t make me happy. I can’t pretend the way he does. I can’t swallow boiling emotions and put on a show just to benefit society. Say what you will, but I guess I’m just not much of an actress; I’m not an everyday liar.

Except that I am.

Like clockwork, I’ll take the dreadful bouquet and toss it into the sink because my only vase is shattered. As water fills to the brim, I’ll watch his eyes dart back and forth. First it’s me, then the clock, and back to the dripping petals. When I finally turn off the faucet, he’ll take me into his arms and kiss me slowly. It’s dark enough that he won’t bother with a mask anymore. That’s why I always give in when he rings the bell – I can see how it hurts him to be under the glow of the streetlight. I just can’t bring myself to leave him there.

Every night together makes me wonder if he’s ever himself anywhere else. I fear that he pretends all the time, even when he’s alone. It’s like I’m his safety, and the flowers are his plea.

So every once in a while when there comes a familiar knock at my door, I break my own rule and take the pretender’s pledge. I lie to myself in order to justify what I’m doing. I say I’m trying to help him see himself in an honest light, but the irony doesn’t escape me. See, in the light, he’s the liar. And in the dark…well, then it’s me.

The truth is that I absolutely despise the flowers, but I do love him. The thing is, it’s a love that only lives for a few sincere moments, and I’m just not strong enough to peel off the armor for good.

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