You reach into your pocket and begin fighting something blocking the grip of your front door key. Blindly fiddling with the strings of a cotton mask you grow frustrated and rip it out of your jeans. Free at last, you destroy this mask, ripping the strings from the face cover before throwing it into the nearest bin. Finally locking your door, out you step, the first step in a while where a thin piece of fabric that for so long shielded each breath you take is no longer needed. You squirm as a sharp gust of wind funnels through your untamed beard, un-brushed and un-oiled. No longer must your cheeks marinate in the particles of your breath, saturating your pores with puddles of sweat and carbon dioxide. Life is finally back to normal.
Thanks to the lady on the news, your teeth, your lips, your nose, your cheeks, and your unexfoliated chin is now free. To the bus stop you go, a space once scattered with scores of fabric faces and eyes of many shapes and sizes. Upon arrival, you forgot that others also have mouths, just like you do. You remember that yes, there are two slug-like muscles that move up and down and all around when you talk, and that you yourself are not the only person with these soft, wrinkly things called lips. You remember that for some reason, people have two tiny holes attached to an elongated piece of cartilage sticking out of their head. You remember people can in fact breathe from not only one, but two different places.
You pan your eyes across the bus stop you’ve waited at daily for two years straight. The screeching brakes of the bus begin to amplify as it slides into your stop and the cue to be first at the back starts its formation. You are met with your bus driver, Mr Harris, this is the first time you’ve actually seen his face. Like a bullet to the chest you wonder on how on earth can a man have a jaw so fucking lob-sided. Mr Harris looked like something you’d find behind a glass cabinet at the museum of modern art. Never did you think the symmetry, or lack thereof, of your bus drivers complexion would sit at the forefront of your thoughts. You take a seat toward the back of the bus and smile. You’re glad you don’t look anything like Me Harris.
You see the girl that always seemed to stare at you from the other side of the silver bus bench. Every time you noticed her looking she’d turn her head in an anxious swoop. Flattered that out of all people, you were the person she chose to spectate from afar. You couldn’t shake the feeling that perhaps she had a crush on you. Today her face, her full face, was prettier than you thought. However, not once this morning did you lock eyes with hers. In fact, her sweet pupils were locked onto somebody else, somebody other than you among the crowd.
You may as well take all your clothes off at once. If you were to strip head to toe and walk around the streets nude, you wouldn’t feel any different. You reach into your pocket to pull out your mask. This time you were able to reach your keys without anything blocking your grip. You are stuck, grieving the loss of your admirer at the back of a public bus, and your security sits mutilated, marinating in the watery abyss that is the bottom of your neighbours red rubbish bin after last night’s rainfall. Life’s back to normal.