not sure this week’s #weekendwriter quite went the way i intended it to, but…  oh, well…

Martha

“Do you want the truth or something beautiful…?

Sacred lies and telling tales…

I can be who you want me to be…”  ~ Paloma Faith

Leaning in close to the mirror, Martha fought the tears with her mascara wand.  Face achingly neutral, she watched, fascinated, as the slowly-growing jewel of moisture swelled on the rim of her lower eyelid.  The blurred forms of flowers festooning the darkened room behind her stopped just short of fracturing to rainbows as her mind overruled her heart and commanded that the salty droplet be reabsorbed by her weak flesh.  She took a deep, shaky breath.  And then another.  A moment later, it was as if her facade had never cracked.  Never leaked a little of her soul into the world, and then miraculously healed itself over.  When she was younger, these periodic leaks and resealings left no trace on her carefully constructed carapace.  No, none at all.  As she counted the days of her life, though, they were becoming visible.  Not to everyone.  Not even to her, most of the time.  But every now and again, if she tilted her head and caught the light from the bulbs around her mirror just right, she could see the faint, silvery shimmering of her breached defences. No fountain of youth, or golden apple of Asgard, would ever be able to erase these scars.  They ran far, far too deep.

This is what you get, she thought, for being an idealist.  This is what you get for wishing for peace and love.  If you are lucky enough, you get offered a deal.  You get what you wish for.

For a price.

Her thoughts were disturbed by Betsy, a backstage runner, bustling through the door and announcing, “Ten minutes, Martha, love.  Are you ready?”

Martha turned, a smile lighting her face, even unto her eyes.  “Yes, Betsy, dear.  Just about…”

“Oh, but look at your hair!” exclaimed the runner in horror, rushing over and fussing with Martha’s hair and headdress until it was to her satisfaction.

Martha continued to smile into the mirror as Betsy fussed and chattered on, finally stepping back with a satisfied, “There, now.  Perfect!”

Martha thanked the other woman, and then, “Thank you, Betsy.  Would you mind giving me a few moments?  The performance, you know.  I need to…”

“Oh, of course not, sweeting!  I’ll just be off, then, shall I?”

Martha looked into Betsy’s ordinary face, seeing all the world in her features, and still smiling warmly.  “Thanks, Bets – you’re a treasure.”

Betsy’s face was suffused with a pleased flush as she closed the door quietly behind her.

The smile slid off Martha’s face as the lock snicked back in its place, to be replaced by the neutral expression she always wore when alone.  These are the people you do it for, she reminded herself.  The Betsys of this world.  You entertain and astonish and soothe so that people like Betsy can have the peace and love they deserve.  You sing tales and tell tall stories so that others can have rest and ease.

Minutes later, Martha took to the stage to keep her part of the bargain.  Every night, she bared her soul.  Sung her heart.  Told sacred lies.  And all with that warm and radiant smile acting as a balm to the troubled, the greedy, the cruel.  To soothe and smooth their rough edges, to leech out their base natures and absorb and assimilate the essence of their evils.  To fill them with love and peace, so they would go forth and do the same for others in their sphere.

Spreading peace and love in the world, at the price of never having any of her own.

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