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Crystal Masquerade

Crystal Masquerade
By Susan Willingham

The girl didn’t know how she got there, but it seemed as though she had been with them her entire life. She had suddenly found herself living with a family where the people were made of crystals. They had the form of a normal flesh and blood person, but there were tiny, gleaming jewels of different colors making up their eyes, lips, hair, and skin. They looked like crystal dolls. The entire family was outwardly beautiful, each part of their perfect bodies sparkling with colorful clarity. The mother had black hair, each strand consisting of tiny gems of shimmering blue-black onyx. Her eyes were of a brilliant sapphire, emblazoned with a radiant light, so brilliant that it was impossible to look at them for more than a few seconds at a time. Her lips consisted of jewels of ruby, like fiery embers of red, that flashed and moved when she spoke. Her teeth were a perfect glimmering white. When she moved, every minute gem of her body appeared to move singularly in a synchronized form. The rest of the family…father, son, and daughter, had the same likeness of appearance. The only difference was that the men were not as spectacular as the radiant women. Even the family dog was dazzling, with a beautiful coat of shining gold that moved with a fluid grace.
Another surprising thing was that their bizarre behavior did not seem to affect the rest of the town. The citizens of this ordinary town actually appeared not to notice their abnormality. The Crystal family interacted with others as if they were just everyday people. They had jobs and went to school like everyone else.
The girl observed the exquisite family closely while she was in their midst. Even though they appeared to have thoughts, feelings, and emotions of happy, rational human beings, there was something different about them besides their appearance that she could only discern after a period of close observation. Their beauty was deceptive. Their smiles and laughter were too quick, too bright, too fake. There was some internal struggle, like a cancer eating away at their insides, consuming them, while they were frantically trying to ignore it. Their jeweled smiles hid their pain and they had beauty to cover their weaknesses. This family’s performance was convincing. The whole town was convinced. And maybe if the whole town believed the façade, they would believe it, too. But at times, when the girl looked closely, she could detect what appeared to be tears glistening behind their beautifully jeweled eyes. She wondered if they fell apart when no one was watching. Maybe they would let her in on their dark secret, their hidden torture, and she could help them somehow. But the farce was too deep, too hidden. They would only deny that anything at all was wrong. They were living among the dead.
They accepted the girl as if she were one of them, as if she had always been one of them - like maybe she had been born into their family, or that she was made of the same things as they were. She marveled at this and wondered why they welcomed her and why she felt so comfortable with them. Suddenly, with an awakening that struck here like a lightening bolt, she knew. She knew only too well. The girl had been drawn to them because she was becoming like them. She began to remember where she had come from. She saw herself running… running a hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction and searching for someone, something to save her from the chains that are holding her prisoner. She hoped someone would hear her crying and carry her away, perhaps a prince charming that would step in and save her life. She was running from the ugliness in her life that had instilled itself into her heart, making it cold and hard. She had a cesspool inside, just like the Crystal family, and if she didn’t clean it out and allow herself to be filled with “something good and wonderful”, she would become like them. Instead of a beautiful diamond heart that matched their jeweled outside, this picture perfect family carried around a hard black piece of coal. The girl could begin to feel her own heart freezing.
It was a slow fade, so slow that the girl didn’t realize that her life was anything but okay. It started when she was a child; it probably started before she was even born. The life was all she knew and she thought everyone else’s life was the same. She thought that it was normal to live in a family where the father drank himself into a stupor every night. She thought it natural that her father would beat her mother until she cried out in hushed whimpers. She was remembering it all now, the past crashing in on her like a tidal wave, knocking her to her knees. She was dredging up memories of the abuse, the drunkenness, the fear. Suddenly the girl was back in her childhood, hiding under the porch all alone with her demons, clutching the puppies that her pet Evie had given birth to recently. She stroked and consoled them as if they, too, felt the dread of the fight above them and were also dismayed at what the future held for them.
The girl was heaving with the burden of shame she had carried since she was a child. She continued to carry that shame as she grew into her teens and began to realize how sick her family and her life were. She felt beneath her classmates and friends, and believed that if they really knew her and knew what her life was like, they wouldn’t like her at all. She was rejected by the “popular” kids because she wore old clothes and lived in an ugly house, and everyone in the small town knew about her father. Soon she found drugs, and in the first instance she tried them, she felt complete. She felt powerful, in control, beautiful, rich, everything that she was not. The drug crowd accepted her. They didn’t seem to care where she lived, what she wore, or that she had a father that was an alcoholic. They had the same problems as she did, and some worse. Even though the drugs worked for her for a while, they eventually became ineffective in covering her pain. The girl found herself searching for something else, anything to make her feel okay. She tried it all and nothing worked. That is when her heart began to harden and she put a wall up to keep out the hurt and shame.
The next thing the girl knew she found herself living with these beautiful people make of crystals. She had to leave them. She had to find the answer for her life, and the answer was not in beauty and riches. She had to find “Something Good and Wonderful.” She dropped to her knees in anguish. It was there that she found the answer. She would take back her life from the demons that had snatched it since she was small. She would take back her identity, her heart, and her soul. She would find out who she was and what her values were. She would no longer believe the lies of her past, the lies of the devil…that she was no good. She would no longer live with shame and with the misery of jumping from place to place, relationship to relationship to find happiness. The “Something Good and Wonderful” spoke to the girl and said “Do you want to be free? Lift your arms. I have the keys for the chains that bind you.” She was free! She would go back to the Crystal family one last time to tell them the good news.
When the girl went to them, she saw that they had gotten worse. Their appearance was even more perfect and beautiful than she had remembered. They were trying harder to delude themselves. She confronted the mother and told her about the “Something Good and Wonderful.” The beautiful woman slowly shook her head, her hair flashing with the motion, her ruby lips trembling. Her amazing cerulean eyes began misting with a slow agony. They gazed at each other for what seemed like eternity. Slowly the girl could see the woman’s flawless body begin to melt, her lovely features fading away. The colorful crystals ran together into a dripping twinkling wax. The onyx of her hair blended with the blue of her eyes and with the red of her lips, creating a merging color of sparkles, shimmering into a pool on the floor beneath her. The girl stared at the glittering substance on the floor in front of her and gravely watched as it changed into a colorless powder. Sorrowfully, she scooped the powder into the palm of her hand and softly blew, scattering it into a mist of a million tiny pieces.

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