There came a time, last week I believe it was, unless it was some other time, when my mask slipped away. Or, if it should so happen that I was not wearing a mask at all, then I guess it must be that I was transformed.
And for that moment – no more than two minutes – the meek and mild me who reveals no emotion was gone.
I saw it in their eyes.
They could not recognize me.
My heat curled outward through fingertips. I saw hairy tendrils shoot out across the desk and surround them. I roared.
I can only imagine how, in that moment, I appeared to them. Snarling. My familiar face dripping away like wax. The tendrils from my fingers thickening into reticulated tentacles which covered the walls and the ceiling until the whole room seethed in a kind of awful peristalsis.
My words, when they came, had nothing to do with the matter at hand, which was something about a client file gone missing. I forget. O sure, maybe they sounded like client file words coming from my mouth to the others, but to me, when I roared, I knew. This was probably less about the client file than about a dead end life spent alone with bad teeth, thinning hair, and a lopsided jaw. Insults recalled from childhood. Narrowing choices, aging loved ones, and living in the dying days of democracy.
Not smart enough. Not brave enough. Not good enough.
The file was just a file, right?
My office boiled in venom and it bubbled in bile and in that moment, the others saw my true, secret face.
I was ready to ingest them. They said, “Wait. Is this the file right here on your desk?”
It was the file.
I said, “Oh.”
I said, “I guess that resolves that, doesn’t it?”
Then my office resumed its usual shape, I went back to looking harmless, and the rest of the day was average in every way.