The Mask

By Chef Suspense304

//Trigger Warning.

My father died today at the age of fifty six. He and I were always close. My mother left us when I was only three so I guess you can say I was a daddy’s girl. Digging through his belongings looking for things to sell to afford the funeral costs was more pain than I could endure. I sat on the bed that I had when I was only a small child, six-years old or so and wept.

I used to have nightmares as a kid, awful nightmares, about a man in a rabbit mask that would come into my room at night. He would tell me to be quiet while he did things to my older sister. I was too scared to keep my eyes open so I would just pretend to be sleeping. I remembered her soft cries as the man kept his hand over her mouth. I would wake up screaming and my father would always be there to calm me down. My sister never said anything about it.

When I was about nine-years old I had the last dream I’d ever have about the man in the mask. He came into my room and, as usual, told me to be quiet. This time he carried a knife. I could hear my sister struggling, trying to get free. I just laid there crying, unable to move, unable to help. When I finally woke up my father was there and I was in the hospital. A man had broken in to the house and had taken my sister. It was the worst news I had ever heard. We sat on the hospital bed crying together as he held me in his arms. I couldn’t help but wonder if the man had been wearing a rabbit mask. I couldn’t bring myself to telling my father what I had seen and what I may have witnessed.

I remember asking my father why I was in the hospital and he had told me that whoever had come into the house had used some kind of chemical to make me pass out. I still to this day have no idea what it was but my father had been so scared that I may die that he rushed me to the hospital.

Just sitting on my old bed now brings back awful memories. My father never touched the room again after my sister had vanished and I moved my bedroom to his office. My father was never the same after that night and the dreams stopped for me as well. I’d still see the mask in my dreams but it was never in my room. It would just be on random people and I would wake up in a cold sweat. My father would always be there for me.

A few weeks after my sister disappeared she was found a few miles from our home underneath a covered boat in an elderly couple’s driveway. She had been split open from the belly up to her chest with a small blade. I must have cried for days thinking of the man in the mask coming into our room that night. His black sweatshirt rolled up on the arms and his dingy jeans. The rabbit’s face had such a devious smirk. Always laughing at me. Twenty years later it is still crystal-clear.

I don’t remember much about my sister’s funeral. It came and went. My father and I hardly talked after that. I would wake up and he would have breakfast ready. We would look at each other blankly and go our separate ways, me to school and him to work.

When I got into my teens and got interested in boys my father showed no interest. Usually a father cares about the type of boy his only daughter gets involved with but not mine. His indifference lasted until a few years ago. My father was diagnosed with cancer and with his impending sense of doom he finally started talking again.

When he first called me it had been over a year since we had spoken. I felt a lump in my throat when his voice came through. I hadn’t known how to respond so I had hung up. It took me three days to call him back. My fiancé and I met with my father and started spending a night or two a week with him. We’d have dinner and talk about politics, books we were reading and our jobs. When I got married my father was there to walk me down the aisle. He cried like a baby when I said “I do.”

A few months ago I had a daughter of my own. I named her, Sarah, after my sister. When I told my father he cried and gave me a hug. We never spoke of Sarah and it wasn’t something I ever wanted to discuss but when I had a daughter of my own I couldn’t think of any name I would rather her have.

I stood up and walked out of my old room and headed into my father’s. His last days had been painful and I was glad he wasn’t hurting any longer. I sifted through some old pictures in the floor of his closet and started crying again.

A picture of me and my sister playing in the yard with our first dog, Sam, sat on top of a large pile of photographs. I worked through them with a smile on my face. Pictures of our birthdays and even a few pictures of our mother filled the box. I sat the stack back in the box and moved it out of the way. I stood up and saw another box above me that was pushed to the back of the closet. I grabbed a sturdy box that I had already packed and stood on top of it so I could reach it.

I pulled the box down and dusted it off. It was a box about the size of a computer monitor with a small silver combination-lock. I frowned a bit when I noticed it had a combination but I tried my luck anyway and to my surprise it had been set on the proper code.

I opened the box and looked at a heavy black cloth. The fabric felt like silk but seemed much thicker. As I pulled back the cloth I got a nose full of my father’s cologne. The one he used to wear when we were kids. It’s amazing how a fragrance will stay preserved on a fabric over the years. Even though it was faint there was no mistaken its origin. I smiled and closed my eyes as I removed the cloth. When I opened them back up my smile disappeared. I looked into the box and I could feel my body heat rising.

The smirk was undeniable.

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