Word Count 495
Unmasking the Masquerade
by G. Ackman
She turned into the little used park, planning to eat her lunch quickly in the car and then head home. She could still tackle three or four items on her to-do list before everyone came home. But then something magical and unexpected happened. The park was deserted, not a soul in sight. She couldn’t resist. She had to get out into that glorious solitude. It probably wouldn’t last – someone else with a carful of kids would surely show up any minute, but until then, she relished being alone. She didn’t even notice that she left her cell phone in the car’s console. Lunch became a leisurely endeavor, sitting at a picnic table and watching the leaves dance on the gentle breeze that lightly caressed strands of her hair. After that she took a nice long walk along the edge of the woods, her thoughts only on the moment and letting herself really see and acknowledge each varied aspect of her surroundings. She could discern seven different bird calls and smiled as she envisioned their conversations. She made eye contact with a squirrel who then raced off to finish his chores, chiding her loudly about her laziness. The weather was perfect- she was neither too warm nor too cool. The light gray clouds allowed enough sun through to be pleasant but not enough to be insistent. She didn’t just look or move through her space; she really saw. Partway through her walk an old swing set beckoned to her and she gleefully answered its call. The rough chain links leaving rust stains on her hands, her feet just scraping against the hard packed dirt, the pulling back on her legs and then she was up. The rhythmic push and pull to get herself just high enough to be able to sail through the air, legs straight out, head and hair back, her own version of a bird. For almost an hour she swung, not thinking at all but just being. As far as she could see, the white fluffy dandelions kept time with her dance.
A subtle shift in daylight brought her back to earth It was time to go home.
As she settled into the driver’s seat, her mind automatically fell into its normal mode – she needed to get dinner on. The kids would be home soon, then Mike. The dogs needed to go out. There was laundry to fold, papers to grade, stories of the day to listen to. They might even ask about her day. But she would just smile and say “good.” She would not share the special gift of today. Today was just for her. She had been unconnected from everyone and everything except her essential being. It had been a soul renewing experience but now it was time to go back. She donned her old, familiar, yet comfortable, costume of wife, mother, daughter, sister, teacher, friend, and neighbor to rejoin the masquerade dance that we call society.