Everyone wore their masks except me. I pretended I’d forgotten it at home. No one would check my bag, and if they did, I’d pretend I’d forgotten to look there. “Remember to wear the mask Junie, the strength of the costume is in the mask. Otherwise, what are you?”
I was a kid in a sheet. It covered my whole body except my feet, which were shoved into old sneakers. I’d never felt so many people looking at my idiot face.
I knew Elsie would tell on me. I’d seen her face when we were parading through the quadrant. She’d furrowed her brows, mouthed, “Where’s the mask?” I pretended not to understand.
They’d spent hours on it. Elsie’s Dad and my Mom. Hours planning it. Hours making it. Hours. On a stupid skeleton face. I could’ve drawn it in 10 minutes, 20 tops, even to make the holes and tie the elastic. All he’d used was black marker on white card. Hours laughing, drinking ‘lemonade’, eating cookies.
“Mr Connors did such a good job on this Junie, wear it and be proud!”
The morning of the parade, I went to the toilet and ripped the mask into pieces. I would have flushed it, but I was sure the pieces would float. So I stuffed them between the pages of my science book.
Mom would be livid, but I knew what to do. I’d spent hours in front of the mirror, perfecting my sorry face. I’d wear it and be proud. (250 words)
(Prompt: strength from oneword.com)