Stephanie Barr’s Mask was deservedly a finalist in the Story Quest Short Story Contest for 2011. The judges were impressed with the evocative imagery she used in her narrative, as well the tightly written plot and theme. We are sure you will also enjoy this fantasy piece. GH
Two enticed him, two among thirty displayed before him.
One was exquisitely beautiful. The cheekbones high but not too sharp, the lips full, but perfectly so. There was a flash of ivory teeth between the full lips and a gleam of amethyst in the glistening eyes. The face seemed formed of the finest dark wood and polished to a velvety perfection, unblemished and rare in its uniformity. Around the slanting eyes was the unmistakable glow of gold, which rimmed the face as well to where the edges disappeared under the cascade of thick black hair. He had never seen a more beautiful mask. Or one more costly. A chieftain’s daughter was among the prospective brides, and there could be little doubt which one she was.
Oddly, though, it was not that mask that had first caught his attention but another. It was not as costly a mask or as finely crafted. It was, in fact, different from every other mask he saw. It was not of the finest wood; the wood used was riddled with knots and blemishes, with uneven color ranging from honeyed lightness to mahogany red. The eyes were round as if with wonder and dark with the smokey dullness of black topaz. Some surfaces were polished to ravishing softness, but others were rudely hewn and left raw, sharp. There was a lack of symmetry: a different shape to each eye, a twist to the lips, that robbed otherwise attractive features of much of their beauty. No gilt, no craftsmanship, and yet…