By Sue Clennell
Jane bought the wooden African mask from the Museum gift shop. It was said to be from Sierra Leone, and she thought it had a gentle face, unlike her husband, James, who was inclined to be cruel.
This hadn’t shown itself until after their honeymoon in Venice.
It hadn’t shown when they drank champagne in St Mark's Square, or caught a vaporetto to the coloured houses of Burano, where women lost their eyesight needling lace’s intricate shapes.
She had, however, seen a glint of it when they’d examined the glass of Murano. James had refused to buy so much as a bottle of water, although it was cheaper than a cup of coffee.
Jane sighed as she remembered actors in Shakespearean dress walking to the theatre there. Behind those masks had lurked risks, thieves of identity, who would steal your passport with little effort.
James, with his usual curt manner, refused to let her hang the African mask anywhere but the laundry, as he said it spooked him. Strange that, as Jane remembered his walking over the Bridge of Sighs quite coolly — and his interest in macabre ghost stories.
Jane started to worry when the mask began to disintegrate. Was something foreign eating it? She called the Customs people to check for pests, and they wrapped it in plastic, taking it away for a week to observe. Then they returned it, saying it was just dirt under the lacquer dropping off.
Jane had a vivid imagination, and it seemed to her that the mask was looking more like her husband, and her husband more like the mask. Rather like dogs gradually looking like their owners, she supposed.
One morning Jane asked James if he wanted boiled eggs or omelette for breakfast.
“A baygi, A no sabi tok English fayn fayn,” he said, putting his arm gently around her waist.
Later that day she decided to ignore the appeal in the mask’s eyes.
About The Author
Sue Clennell sometimes writes reviews for this ezine in E-scapes. However she mainly considers herself a poet.
At present she has a poetry CD The Van Gogh Cafe for sale at $15 inc. postage (from PO Box 1127, Nedlands. Western Australia.. 6909.)
2 Poems from this may be seen on youtube at: bit.ly/1wdTfcM