Once upon a time, deep in an enchanted forest there was a beautiful white castle. Inside the white castle there lived a woman and a man. And just as you would expect from a castle in an enchanted forest, strange and unusual things began to happen. Dark magic was at work.
Inside the doorway of the white castle there was a hook. The hook was used everyday as the man returned home from work. The hook is where the man hung his mask. Each day he would step inside the door, take off his mask, then his shoes and finally his coat- in that exact order. The woman in the white castle noticed a strange and precarious thing. The mask had power. The mask changed the man. Without the mask the man’s skin turned black and his eyes turned green. Without the mask the woman was afraid of the man. Without the mask, the man hurt the woman. Perhaps that is why the woman in the white castle never once saw the man leave the castle without his mask on. He too was keenly aware of the power the mask possessed.
The man left the house often. He rode away from the forest and into town. He was always on the hunt for the Thavmazo Tribe. The Thavmazo’s were the mask collectors. They searched the local shops and marketplaces for the most rare and exquisite masks. They dedicated their lives to finding and admiring the great masks of the world. The Thavmazo’s heard tales of masked man and the mesmerizing beauty his masks possessed. When the Thavmazo Tribe met the masked man they were not disappointed. The mask was every bit as bewitching as they had heard it was and they couldn’t get enough.
One day as the masked man rode into town, he noticed a giant marble pedestal in the middle of the town square. The pedestal was crafted with the finest white marble and towered high above the building and shops below. The leader of the Thavmazo Tribe stepped forward to present the pedestal to the masked man. “We have erected this pedestal in your honor and for your glory. Now you may sit at the top of the city where you will be seen and admired by all”.
Each day the masked man rode into town to meet with with his admirers, but by the time it was nightfall the mask started to itch. The itching was so unbearable that the man could hardly wait to take it off. He rode through the forest back to the castle, ran inside, pulled off the mask and hung it on the hook. He looked for the woman. The only way to stop the itching was to hurt the woman. He didn’t want that to be the only way, but it was. Where was she hiding now?
The woman in the white castle thought of an idea. What if she could convince him that he didn’t need the mask? What if she could tend to the wounds on his face so that he didn’t hurt anymore? Maybe that would stop the man from itching and stop her from hurting. The woman heard the man’s angry footsteps. She heard his sharp voice calling her name. He was coming closer. She stepped out from the shadows and into the light. The man stopped in front of her. She gently raised a trembling hand to the wounds on the man’s face but this made the man angry. This made the man hurt the woman again.
The next morning the man knocked on the woman’s door. She cautiously opened the door a crack and saw the man standing there. He held out a beautiful silk shirt with long sleeves. “It’s to cover your hurts” he said to her. The woman reached out and took the silk shirt. She closed her bedroom door, and slipped her arms into the soft flowy material. She buttoned up each button to the very top of her collar. There. That was better.
After a while the man in the mask realized that sitting on top of the pedestal alone was not enough. The people were losing interest in him. He needed something more. He needed the woman from the white castle.
That evening when the man returned to the castle he carried with him a box. It was no ordinary box. This box was made from pure gold. It was covered with ornate engravings and adorned with the finest diamonds. He called for the woman and presented her with the box. “I have a job for you” the man informed the woman. The woman slowly lifted the lid off the box and peered inside. She reached in and gently pulled out a beautifully handcrafted mask. It was almost as beautiful as the man’s mask was.
“From this moment on you are to wear this mask at all times” the man commanded.
The woman could feel warm tears filling her eyes. She didn’t want to wear the mask but she didn’t want to make the man angry either.
A sudden surge of courage filled the woman
“I’m going to tell them,” the woman said
“I’m going to tell them that the mask isn’t real.
“I’m going to tell them who you really are”
The man stared at her defiantly. His lips slowly seperated into a grin. He started to laugh.
The laugh was low and quiet at first but then it grew louder and more aggressive.
He took the woman’s chin in his hands.
“They will never believe you” he chastised.
And with that he whirled around.
“We’re going out!” The man announced. “Put your mask on”.
The woman slowly slid the mask over her face. It was tight and uncomfortable. “Maybe I’ll get used to it,” she thought to herself. The man grabbed her hand, helped her onto his horse and they rode through the forest towards town together.
As soon as they approached the town square, the woman could hear cheering. It was rising up louder and louder, filling the air with shouts of admiration. The Thavmazo Tribe had lined the streets waving flags and throwing flower petals. The woman had never seen anything like this before. The masked man rode his horse to the base of the marble pedestal, jumped off and quickly climbed to the top. The masked man began waving to the crowd. The woman looked up and saw that there was only room for one on the top of the pedestal so she remained at the bottom waiting for the man.
A group of Thavmazo women began to crowd around her. They admired her mask and her horse and her white castle. “You’re so lucky”, the Thavmazo women told her over and over. They asked the woman how she found the masked man and if she knew of any other masked men nearby. They were enamored with the white castle she lived in and how lovely it was. They carried on about the masked man’s talents and riches. They loved his mask and boldly proclaimed that it was the most beautiful they’d ever seen.
The woman from the white castles own mask began to feel tighter and tighter. She tried to explain to the Thavmazo Tribe that the masks were not as beautiful as they looked. She tried to explain to them that the masks were actually quite uncomfortable. At this the Thavmazo women erupted in laughter. How silly the woman from the white castle was!
The crowds grew larger and larger and the cheers grew louder and louder.
Suddenly the woman from the white castle felt as if she couldn’t breathe. Her chest felt heavy and her lungs felt depleted. She needed to take off her mask! She began to run away from the marble pedestal and away from the town square. She desperately pulled at her mask but it wouldn’t budge. With every second that passed it was more difficult to breathe. The woman fell to her knees, violently pulling at the mask until everything went black.
The woman from the white castle slowly opened her eyes. Where was she? A gentle breeze brushed back the strands of hair from her face. Her senses were awakened with the smell of wildflowers and the sound of water trickling down a stream. She was far from the town square. She slowly sat up, and reached her hand to her face. The mask was gone.
In the distance she could see a figure with his back to her. He was hunched over doing something. Was this the masked man? Maybe she should run.
As she watched the figure a little closer she noticed something different about him. She slowly walked towards him and noticed that he had a shovel in his hand. He was digging a hole in the ground. As she got closer she noticed her mask, shattered into many pieces lying on the ground beside the hole. The man looked up at her with kind and gentle eyes
“What is your name?” The woman asked.
“My name is Creator” the man replied. Creator reached out for the woman’s hand.
“Will you help me bury the mask?” he asked
The woman from the white castle looked around nervously. What if the masked man found her? What if he saw that she wasn’t wearing her mask?
“These masks are very valuable” the woman stammered nervously.
“People from all over collect and worship these masks”.
Creator did not look up. He continued to place the pieces of the mask deep into the hole. He picked up a shovel and began to throw dirt in the hole until the mask was completely covered. The woman stood by watching. Soon the hole was filled in and it was as if it was never there. Creator gently took the womans hand and began to walk away. “It’s time to go” he said. The woman from the white castle had never met a man like this before. She was curious.
“What do you collect if you don’t collect masks?” the woman asked.
Creator stopped and pointed to the stream “there” he said.
The woman from the white castle looked at the stream. It gently trickled through the forest as far as she could see.
“Those are tears” Creator said.
“I collect tears“
“I collect your tears”
He bent down and dipped his hand in the water.
He turned and looked up at her
“And not a single one has been lost”
Before the woman could respond creator gently took her hand again.
“Come with me” he said
“I have a surprise for you”
Creator led the woman to the edge of the forest and pointed to the top of a mountain. At the top of the mountain sat an enormous golden castle. The white castle she had been living in paled in comparison. The golden castle sat glistening in the sun, its majesty captivating the entire mountain.
“This is for you” Creator told her
“This is your new home. No one will hurt you here”
The woman from the white castle was overcome. Tears began to roll down her cheeks.
They rolled down her cheeks and onto the ground.
“I thought you were the tear collector” the woman asked with a smile.
“I don’t collect the happy ones” creator replied. “Those ones are for you to keep”.
They looked at each other and smiled.
Creator took the woman’s hand as they walked together up the mountain to the golden castle.
As they approached the door the woman stopped. She looked back hesitantly at Creator.
“This is your home now” he coaxed with a reassuring smile.
The woman from the white castle gently pushed the door open. She stepped inside. She looked at the wall beside the door.
She exhaled slowly.
“Welcome home” Creator whispered…