Whispers. Always around her, following constantly as if firmly attached by a string. Making her way to the top of the stairs, the whispers suddenly stopped as those standing below caught sight of her. Everyone was silent, watching and waiting, waiting and watching. Yet no one knew who she was. Hidden behind her mask, she could be anyone. A picture of elegance and grace, she swiftly made her way down the steps provoking a cloak of whispers to cling to her once more.
“Who is that?” they muttered, watching with a hint of jealously as she slipped out of sight. Finally out of the crowds, she could relax. Knowing she was unable to remove her mask until midnight, she felt safe. She could finally enjoy herself without the usual feeling of constant anxiety crushing her. Contentment flowed through her veins, only pausing to remind her that, though no one would be able to recognise her, she wouldn’t know who she was dancing with. Shaking her head slightly, a small giggle left her lips. She was being silly; this was the whole point of a masquerade ball! It was finally time she let herself be free; gave herself some time to be happy in a world brimming with worry and panic.
Taking a deep breath, she stepped into the ballroom. The brilliant sight ahead met her eyes and a small gasp escaped her lips as she took one more step forward in an attempt to take it all in. Illuminating the entire grand hall, a stunning crystal chandelier hung artistically from the ceiling, creating an air of sophistication and splendour. To the left of the auditorium, an incredibly detailed ice sculpture sat, watching happily as those in its sight twirled and waltzed around in joy.
Peeling her eyes away from the ice, she was suddenly aware of a large crowd, all with their eyes on her. “This was a bad idea” she cursed silently, wishing she could just disappear into the ground, away from people’s judging stares “I need to get out of here” she whispered, tears forming in her eyes as she felt her breath catch in her throat. Wide-eyed, she turned around quickly, attempting to locate the nearest exit. “Why does this always happen?” she wondered as she began to run. Ignoring anyone making an attempt to talk to or follow her, she continued, asking herself why on earth she couldn’t just be normal.
Reaching a glass door and pushing it open carelessly; she ran through the room and collapsed onto the floor, finally allowing her tears to fall against her mask. The thing that had once given her the height of confidence now hindered her, taunting her with its perfection and comparing its glory to her inadequacy. Knowing the more she fought against her tears, the shallower and more panicked her breathing would become, Olivia lets go. Brick by brick, her walls shattered and from behind them rushed a forceful current. To her, it felt as if she was drowning in her own salty tears.
Lifeless, she stopped using the walls as her support for they too began to shake and tremble with the weight of her upset. Slipping down into the abyss, she took a deep breath and shut her eyes, finally blocking out the rest of the world.