The Mask

This prompt continues with Mav’s Story. If you’re new and would like to read it in chronological order, read the previous parts HERE before you read this. It can also be read as a stand alone.

“She?” Did I even want to know? I gazed at bottle. Surely just one shot wouldn’t hurt.

“Yeah.” He moved between me and the bottle, blocking my view. “I lived. She didn’t.”

The jealous beast within silenced as my relief sickened me. Someone was dead. She was dead.

He had wanted to die for her.

I ran as fast as the sheet allowed to the bathroom, flashes of earlier that evening slamming into me as I kneeled.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.

I sacrificed me, shoving my insecurities and fears behind a mask, along with the entangled dreams.

I had to. The mask filtered emotion. Without the hope, the joy, and the fear, I gained the one thing I craved.


It paired with the a desire too strong to hide: revenge.

I stopped drinking.

I molded my mask into blasé perfection.

I threw myself into work.

I thrived.

I waited for my wish to come true.

For the call.

I’d invite him over for drinks and don my sexy black dress.

His jaw would drop. At me. At my life.

Perfect without him.

He’d beg for forgiveness.

Danny would walk in, greeting me with his customary deep kiss.

And I’d see John’s heart shatter.


Instead he had wanted to die. For her.

His hands pulled my hair away, keeping it safe.

Like a million times before.

History repeating itself.

It melted the mask and stole my control.

“No.” My voice was hollow, bouncing off the bowl.


I whirled around, welcoming the pain as my hair yanked from his hands. “No! I won’t do this again!”

“This?” Confusion filled his face.

This. You. Us.” I knew how our story ended.


“Good idea.” He rocked back on his heels, standing up and moving away.

His easy capitulation surprised me, knifing the hopeful teenager within who dreamed of happy endings. “You agree?”

“You’ve made it clear I have no say in the matter.” His voice was nonchalant, contradicting the biting words.

My anger wavered, lacking the fuel to burn. “Okay then. If you could just get my clothes and drive me back to my car, I’ll be out of your life for good.” I tried to match his tone.

“I’m sorry, Mav.”

“Yeah.” I slid the remnants of my mask into place; I hid the agony.

I flushed the toilet and waited.

He didn’t budge from the doorway.


“You can’t leave.”

My laugh was shrill. “Of course I can.”

He shook his head. “It isn’t safe.”

“I’ll be fine.” I lied.

“I can’t take the chance. Someone used you as bait. If they did it once, they’ll do it again.”

“Bait?” Little sleep and even less food took their toll and I struggled to follow his chain of thought.

“The postcard and the email. They were either a test or a trap. Now they know I’m alive.”

“What do you mean “they know”? You stood me up and then kidnapped me into the alley.”

“You were bugged. They heard us.”

Shock flooded me. “What kind of shit did you step into?”

“The deep classified kind. And now they know I’m willing to break my cover for you. It’s why you can’t leave.”

Panic edged out the flare of warmth at his words. “I can’t stay here.”

“We won’t. We’ll have to switch locations.”

“John, I have a life! A job. A home.”

“I’m sorry, Mav.”

“A boyfriend.”

The regret vanished from his face, transforming into something unreadable. “I know.”

“I’m not giving up my life for you.”

“That’s what I’m trying to prevent.”

The true meaning of his words hit me. “You think someone will try to kill me?” I couldn’t hide the incredulous tone. “Why?”

“Because you matter to me.”


A Red Dress Club writing prompt

This week’s prompt is all about character development.

We’d like you to write about what your character wants most.

Which reminds me of the scene in Good Will Hunting when Robin Williams’ character asks Matt Damon’s character, Will, what he wants. And Will can’t answer. Because he doesn’t really know.

Do you know what you want most? Does your character?

If you missed a section, you can find them all HERE.

Constructive criticism is welcomed, as always.


About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos ( sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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18 Responses to The Mask

  1. Frelle says:

    well done. *sigh* love the emotion here.. whats in her head, what he conveys.. good stuff. thank you for continuing!!

  2. Carrie says:

    Such a dysfunctional couple. I’m not sure if I want them to get back together…Mav needs some therapy.

    You’ve got a great flow of dialogue with this and of course a great cliff hanger.

  3. Galit Breen says:

    Aww Kelly, so so good!

    I can so relate to her defenses and as always must. Know. More!

  4. KG Waite says:

    Very nice! I want to read more of this story. She looks like an emotional train wreck. He’s involved in something over his head and beyond his control and now, to stay alive, she’s got to get involved too. Perfect!

  5. Kir says:

    it gets better and better. Tell me, is it effortless? Kimmy and David are a labor of love for me, but not effortless. I love that way you write and how you entangle us just like those bedsheets.

    Great job

    • Sometimes they are effortless.

      Sometimes I fight with them.

      This prompt was hard. Mav didn’t want to show me what she wanted most. She wanted to find out what was going on.

      So this one took quite a while. And rewrites.

      The others… I usually change little because these two just pop when together.

      My main challenge is fitting within the word count each week. 🙂

  6. Nancy C says:

    Your endings, boom! They get me everytime. I quite liked the bit when he blocked her from her drink. She quit and considers starting again for him, yet he protects her from herself. So many layers…

  7. I like the continuation, Kelly! My favorite line was “His easy capitulation surprised me, knifing the hopeful teenager within who dreamed of happy endings.”

    I’ve so been there. Unfortunately.

    Still not in love with all the backstory in the midst. 😉

  8. Oh oh oh! Intrigue and love affairs and life ending/changing/disrupting wonderful stuff! More. Of. This. please

  9. Love the pulling back her hair bit.

    And the ending.

    You’re onto something here, but you already know that. 🙂

  10. Wow, you really capture the conflict. Great dialogue and I can tell you are very thoughtful with your words.

  11. Catie Rhodes says:

    This is my first visit. I went back and read the beginning, and, then, today’s installment. I really love this. I like the way we watch her veneer crack a little at a time until she’s lost it all. I question how important her veneer was to her; she gave it up very quickly–even though she is sad about it. Maybe, deep down, she was waiting for this. Sometimes we do, you know.

    I subscribed and can’t wait to keep reading.

  12. angela says:

    I think this shows us how difficult it was for her without John. I don’t know if I felt that despair until this piece, the idea that everything she’s built since her life with him was done to set the stage for the ultimate “see what I’ve become!”

  13. CDG says:

    Another great installment, and as Nancy said, you do killer cliffhangers.

    I left a little conflicted, though, about Mav’s wants. Does she want the life with Danny for revenge, does she really want John, though she says she doesn’t? Does she just want to be free from her demons?

    What I want? Is to find out, though. So keep ’em coming!

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  15. After all of that he finally said it!
    she does matter!
    And we get to the note!
    I’ve been waiting a long time for this friggin’ note to reappear!
    I love this series! So engaging.

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