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by Ellie Stevenson, aged 13


Read by Jessica Turner from the BBC Radio Drama Company.

I wake up pressed against the cold wall; I must have rolled over too far in my sleep again. I slowly prise myself from between the soft folds of my quilt and run my hand over my featureless face, feeling the blank stretch of canvas that shows no emotion. I grope for my masks, fingering the different aspects of each one until I find the one I was looking for. I lift it up to my face and press it into place, the seams blending smoothly with my skin, leaving no blemishes to mar the pristine surface and perfectly formed features of the mask. They like us to be beautiful, the ones who control us. The ones who rose to power because they know how to make the masks, and what would we be without them?

I open my eyes, feeling the light rush into my brain, informing me of my surroundings. My mouth, today permanently fixed in a smile, supplies the first breath of the day and I can hear the air hissing around my clenched teeth as my ears begin to function.

I set off on a walk, nodding at the brisk passers-by as they do the same. Many of them I can see are wearing masks like mine with similar smiling expressions, while a small amount portray emotions such as anger or jealousy. Positive masks are favoured, as everyone wants to seem happy.

I wonder how we came to be like this. I have heard rumours that we used to have ever changing faces, forever reflecting what we felt on the inside, until we just became too used to hiding behind false expressions and behaviours so we just... changed. Evolved. Whatever you want to call it. I don't know if the rumours are true, because the thought of having a face that changes is just too strange for me to get my head around. The leaders certainly don't believe it. They shun the idea of anything different, so if anyone acts or looks abnormal, they just write them off. They confiscate their masks, so they eventually die off as they can't eat or drink. These poor souls are known as the faceless ones, and I had better stop with the blasphemous thoughts before I join them.

Sighing, I open the door to my bedroom, tired after a long day of work at my office. I sit down on the bed and slide my fingers under the edges of the mask prising it off my face before returning it to its container and becoming expressionless once again.

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