Cracking The Mask, He’s Going Home

cracking the mask

The day had finally come.  It was a blue-sky day for April in Thunder Bay.  The sun shone through the window of my residence room early morning air breeze coming through the window.  I was a mix bag of emotions, the mask I was wearing was of everything was fine was securely on that morning.  Yes, I was sad Devon was leaving, yet strangely enough calm too.

Devon came into my room and looked sad, as if he had been crying.  Through his tears, Devon said “What am I going to do at home without you?”

Smiling at him and lightly kissing Devon I said “Well you’ll see me in a few weeks, you’re coming to visit me in May.”  Doing my best to keep happy and upbeat.  I seemed to be good at wearing this mask, like everything was okay.

Devon cried again “But I want and need you with me.”  Devon put his hands up to my neck and kissed me hard squeezing my neck, at the same time.  “I want to be with you all the time.  I love you.”  Devon squeezing my neck had become almost normal to me.  It was something he did, even though it scared me every time he did it.

“I love you too.”  I weakly said back to him, I didn’t want to cause a scene on his last day at LU. 

We went for a last early breakfast at the cafeteria together.  Devon was crying again.  Holding my hands across the table he said “I’m going to miss you.  I’ll think about you every day.”  Kissing my hands as I sat with my food in between my arms.

“Devon, I need to eat my breakfast before it gets cold.  Can I have my hands back please?”  I smiled and giggled looking at Devon, that mask wasn’t going anywhere in while I was in public with Devon.

Walking back Devon had his arm around me pulling me in close. 

We sat in his bedroom as he packed.  Devon looked up when he heard voices outside in the hallway.  He looked at me in surprise “They’re here!”

“Sweetie, you remember meeting my folks at Christmas?”  Devon said to me after greeting his parents when they came into his room.

“Yes I do, hello Mr. and Mrs. Dark.”  I smiled and reached out my hand to shake theirs. The mask stayed put, I did not want to show emotion of things were not fine with their son and myself.

“Hi Aime, nice to see you again.  Have you had a good semester?”  Mrs. Dark asked me with a smile.

“Yes, I have, the courses were okay, I’m studying Social Work.”  I replied.

“That must be interesting classes?”  Mrs. Dark was doing her best to have a conversation with me as Mr. Dark was helping Devon load the truck, they were driving back into the Ottawa area. 

“Yes, they are.  Learned about the First Nations people and how they have been getting help from the social workers here in Thunder Bay because of the residential schools they attended.  I also got to do some volunteer work at one of the homeless shelters one day as well.  That was interesting.  Meeting the people who live there, and how they are trying to get into a better situation.”  I said to Mrs. Dark.

“Devon, dear, did you know that Aime went volunteering?  That’s so nice to do.  Did you do anything like that this year?”  Mrs. Dark saw her husband and son come back into the room for another load of things. 

“Yes, I knew she went.  And no, I didn’t.”  Devon kept his comments short. 

I thought back to the day of me volunteering.  Yes, he did know, he was upset I went and stayed over at a friend’s house off campus. Thinking don’t rock the boat, keep that mask on tight right now.

Kissing me one last time hard on my lips Devon got into the truck with his Dad driving.  A few of us had gathered to see him off.  Waving to him I took a big breath.  A tear fell down my cheek.  The mask had a tiny chip in it.

“Aime you are seeing him, soon right?” Sam came up to me when she saw my tear fall.

“Yes, I am, he’s coming to my house to visit for a few days.”  I said to Sam.   

A couple hours after Devon left, I was sitting in my room I still had my English exam to write, and the essay to finish before my parents arrived the next day.  I was enjoying the spring sun that was still shining through the window.  It had warmed up some which many of us were happy about.

Sam appeared at my door.  “Hey Aime, how are you doing now?”  Sam was always happy and cheery. 

“Hi Sam, I am okay.  Feeling a little weird, but okay.”  I was feeling weird, lost even.  I didn’t know what to do.  I was so conditioned or trained by Devon that I had to check in with him on what I was doing. 

“The girls and I are going over to the cafeteria for lunch soon.  Want to come?”  Sam smiled at me.

I paused.  I thought I needed to ask Devon if it was okay if I went.  Then I remembered he had left earlier in the day after breakfast.  Devon and I had gone for an early breakfast earlier in the morning, and I was getting hungry.

“Sure, that’ll be good.  Thank you, Sam!”  It felt weird going for lunch and not telling anyone I was going.  Can I trust Sam? Can I chip another piece off of the mask I was wearing saying everything is okay with Devon and I?

“How many more exams do you have left?” I asked Sam.

“2 more, English and another one.”  You?

“I have one more, and an essay to hand in.”  I said.  “My parents are coming tomorrow to see me; we leave the morning after that.

The next day I had my last exam, my English exam.  I was feeling weird still.  I kept wanting to tell Devon where I was going.  Like for breakfast, and to my exam.  I was still feeling lost.

The sun was shining again as I walked back to my dorm.  I felt good that I was done my exams.  I was happy as I walked back.  I did think about Devon though a lot, wondering what he was up to, if he was still thinking about me. 

I knew my parents were on their way to me, however I did not know how far away they were, or close they were to campus.

Back in my room I sighed.  A big long breath.  I was almost all packed, luckily in the morning I had printed off my essay for the Women’s Studies.  I was collecting the papers making sure they were in order and getting a stapler in them, so it all stayed together.  My name and student number were on the front, as well as the course name/number and my professors name. 

“Hi Aime!  Are you packed yet?”  My Dad smiled at me when I turned around.  Mum and Dad were smiling at me as they stood in the doorway.  They looked a bit tired though.  I wonder what time they got up, and if they drove straight, or slept over somewhere in the middle.  Like sleeping in the tiny town called Wawa. 

“Hi, and no!  I just got back from my English exam, and I must go hand in my essay portion of my exam for Women’s Studies.  I have 30 min to get over to the main campus.”  Smiling at my Dad and going over and giving both my Mum and Dad a hug. The mask came back on, everything was awesome, I was happy to see them and ready to go home.

“Oh!  You better hurry then!”  My Dad exclaimed.

“I’ll be back in a few minutes.  Or do you want to walk with me over to the security office?”  Asking my parents.

“We’ll walk with you over to the main campus.  Will be good to stretch our legs after the car ride.”  Mum said.

My parents and I walked over to the main campus in 5 minutes.  Luckily, I lived on campus, that was a small campus too. 

“This is the building where a lot of my classes were, and this is the Forestry building which I never went into.”  I was pointing out buildings to my parents as we walked over. It was fun pointing out things to my parents, all the while the mask stayed on.

“Good afternoon sir!  Please time and date stamp this for me.  And it needs to go to Prof. Wolf in the Women’s Studies department please.”  I said to the security guard who was working in the main building on campus.

“Sure thing! There has been a few of you handing in papers today to her.”  The security guard smiled at me as he stamped and put the essay into the internal mailbox.”

“Thank you very much.  Have a good summer!” I said to him with a smile keeping that mask on tight again.

Walking back to the dorm Dad said, “So what’s the plan?”

“The plan is you and I will go to the hotel, check in and rest.  Aime will pack and we’ll come get her in the morning, early.”  My Mum smiled at my Dad.

Sure, enough the next morning Mum and Dad showed up bright and early.  I had all my things packed and I was tidying up a couple of last-minute things.  I was sad to leave everyone.  I had made gifts for Paula, Shelley, and a couple others.  Since it was crazy early the sun had just come up, no one was awake or around I slid them all under Paula’s door to give to them.  Even though I was sad to leave, I was also at the same time strangely happy as well to be leaving. Can I take off the mask fully? Can the mask be seen by others?

Only time would tell why I was happy leaving…

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