“Who is that?” asked Elle with curiosity.
“Stella Wellman,” replied Josh. “She always covers her face. No one knows why.”
And that’s all anybody ever knew about the woman.
There were whispers about why she covered her face. Some believed it was because she was ugly. Others just deemed her to be a freak. Stella never clarified to anyone. People found that even stranger. But, then still waters run deep.
She became the talk of the neighbourhood. People knew bits and snippets about her. They knew that she rarely left the house. She was about twenty and took online classes. Very little was known about her family too. They had recently moved to the neighbourhood.
Stella’s parents were very protective. They always escorted her out of the house. It was all very mysterious. With time, the whispers grew.
Every year, around Halloween the neighbourhood committee threw a lavish themed party. They were the highlight of the year and an opportunity to mingle.
This year the theme was ‘masquerade’. The venue was the community hall and the arrangements were grand. The décor was eye-catching, the best deejay played music, the best spread of food was laid out and the most beautiful lights lit up the whole event.
Stella’s family was invited too. They decided not to go but impulsively, Stella decided to attend. A masquerade seemed right up her alley.
On the night of the party Stella got all dolled up and completed her look with a glitter embellished mask. The mask covered most of her face, from her eyes down to her jaw line.
She entered the party looking like a vision. Her look made heads turn. Everyone adored her beautiful velvet red gown and her pretty accessories. Her brown locks had been curled and set prettily about her face. She carried herself with grace. Thanks to the mask, no one could recognise her. She felt free of the whispers.
Gradually, she relaxed and mingled with the crowd. For anyone who asked, she said she was ‘Allison Gilmore’, who loved travelling and meeting new people. She pretended to be the opposite of who she was.
The party was a success. Everybody had a great time. Then, after a few hours it was time to announce the winners of the best costume and mask.
The emcee took to the stage and said, “The winner is Allison Gilmore.”
Stella was caught. She could not avoid receiving the prize on stage.
“Speech! Speech!” chanted everyone as she walked up.
Nervously she clutched the microphone and began, “Hi…um my name is…Stella.” She meant to say Allison but her anxiety drove her to say Stella.
The crowd was puzzled. How could Allison be Stella?
The whispers started again. Stella wanted to run but she held her ground. It was now or never. She could either run or silence the whispers forever.
She chose to silence them.
“My name’s not Allison. I’m Stella and I am an acid attack survivor.”
Connect with Penmancy:
Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!