By Avis Yarbrough
The auctioneer held up the mask. It was black and red, with a white line
drawn around where the eyes would go. There were dots of diamonds sprinkled over one half of the mask.
“What a beautiful mask,” cooed the auctioneer. One of his fingers from one hand grazed the top. The thumb and pinky finger from his other hand were grazing the bottom. The auctioneer hands were wrinkled, resembling wrapping paper scrunched up.
“Is not this mask a work of art?” asked the auctioneer of the audience waiting to bid. “It was made around the 1920’s by the young sculpture Keegan Coldheart, a gift for his wife.”
The auctioneer’s gray eyes glanced over the audience, landing first on the middle aged man dressed in a tailored black suit and white silk shirt. Then next landing on the young woman in a black button down sweater and blue jeans.
“There is a legend attached to the mask,” said the auctioneer.
The room groan, “Get on with the bidding Barney,” cried an exasperated female voice from the front row.
The statement “Yeah do,” was echoed throughout the room.
The bidding started. In the end it was between the woman in the blue jeans and the middle age man in the back.
“Five-thousand dollars,” said Barney.
The middle age man raised his hands.
“Five-thousand and five-hundred dollars,” said Barney.
Next, the woman in the blue jeans raised her hands, and this is how it went for another five minutes. A bid, then the middle-age man would raise his hands followed by the young woman. The bidding came to an end and the mask went to the middle age man for eight thousand dollars. Later that night, at the middle age man house, the woman in the blue jeans showed up on his doorstep.
“Can I come in?” asked the woman.
“Yes,” said the middle age man not surprise to see the young woman.
“I want the mask,” said the young woman.
“So, therefore you should get it?” asked the middle age man.
Hearing the derision in the man’s voice, the young woman remained quiet.
“I won the bid,” said the man.
“I want to bid on it again,” said the young woman.
“It is only a mask.”
“That is easy for you to say since it is yours. What do you want?” said the young woman.
The man’s green eyes traveled slowly down her body and back up again.
The woman stood still and took a deep breath, “You want to have sex with me.”
“No. Do you think I am handsome?” asked the man.
“Yes” said the woman and she were being honest.
“I like my looks I want to retain them. I want your youth to help me do that.”
The young woman brown eyes widen but she seemed to be listening to him intently.
The man continued, “I don’t want all your youth just about five years worth of it enough to take away a couple of my gray hair and wrinkles.”
“That is not possible,” whispered the young woman. She knew in her heart that what she said was true, but the pounding of her heart said something different.
“I thought the best thing about being young is that you believe everything is possible,” said the man. “Your youth for the mask, a bargain. After all you want the mask, right?”
“Yes,” said the woman.
“You are a determined and persistent young woman. I am offering you what you want. Will you leave empty-handed?
“Will it hurt?” asked the woman.
The woman took a deep breath and said, “Okay.”
“Come here and give me a kiss than,” said the man.
The young woman walked over to him slowly, stood in front of him and waited. The man leaned down and kiss her gently on the lips. It was a chaste, almost fatherly kiss. When the woman stepped back she looked at the man seeing no physical changes in him.
As though reading her mind the man said, “It takes a while.”
The woman nodded her head slowly, thinking she felt different. She rushed to the mirror that was hoisted on the man’s living room wall, and she saw that she did not look any different.
“I will get you the mask,” said the man. He got the mask, handed it to the young woman. “Take care,” he said.
The woman left feeling disconcerted and went home. At home, the young woman still had the feeling that she had changed somehow. She looked in her bedroom mirror still seeing the same face she saw this morning before she left for the auction.
It was years later, that the young woman saw the middle –age man again while walking down the street. He still looked handsome. He just had more gray hair and more wrinkles, but for the most part he was aging gracefully. The mask she had wanted so desperately sat in her living room above the useless fire place. She would gaze at it with a feeling that had been growing inside of her since that night, the price she paid for it was to high. What she lost she was not sure but looking at the man she knew he would be able to tell her. She watched him walk down the street within calling distance almost out of range. She opened her mouth to ask him a question but she hesitated, and before she could figured out what she wanted to ask the man he had gone.