Tina Carlyle stood near the edge of Stanley's bed, fixing her hair in his mirror, listening to him whistle in the shower. The whistling had always been unbearable. She had been dating Stanley for what seemed like months now, and another morning of getting ready in his grimy, unkept apartment was beginning to grate on her nerves. Once he was out of the shower, she knew Stanley would start politely groping her, talking sweet about her day and what they would do that night.
Dressed in her favourite black and white pinstripe dress, she tried to look at herself objectively; a dancer at the Coco Bongo, a 21 year old girl, a blonde, a closeted comic book nerd, a sap. Why was she even dating Stanley now? She thought about all that time waitressing at the club just to get a chance to dance, and now - what did she have to show for it? Was she getting older? Could people tell? She dropped her curvy, arched out posture and leaned on the dresser, her body bulging in the dress slightly. In the mirror, Tina studied her thin, arched eyebrows and her plump, wide lips. Ever since Stanley had stopped using the mask, things had gotten a lot less interesting. Milo had rescued the Mask from the river, yes, but now it was hidden in the bottom of one of Stanley's dresser drawers. Stanley hadn't even been interested in using it for sex - to Tina, it seemed like the novelty of having her was enough for him.
The shower still running, Tina saw a golden opportunity. At this point in the morning, she was usually still sleeping, so Stanley wouldn't suspect a thing. She rifled through his drawers finding dirty clothes, stacks of small bills, old magazines - aha! The Mask. Tina stood up straight, possessed by the strange, alien wood. Old, beautiful...and somehow shiny on the inside.
Across the room, Milo barked, scaring Tina half to death. She had completely zoned out to the inside of the mask. Bringing it up near her face in the mirror, she began imagining herself wearing it. Stanley had looked so incredible in that yellow suit, those razor sharp facial features. What would happen to her? Would she still have her hair? Did it hurt to wear? In this moment, Tina could suddenly see how Stanley had been carried away on that whole adventure. The Mask was heavy in her hands, and she could tell how enormous its power was just from the feeling in her hands.
Tina brushed her hair back, looking through the eye holes of the Mask as she brought it closer and closer, imagining the feeling of it the way Stanley had explained it to her many times, 'like a vacuum right on your face', apparently. She slammed it onto her skin, her cheeks and nose and mouth fitting perfectly into the smooth wooden mold...and nothing happened. She stood there, looking in the mirror and imagining the Mask covering her entire head, massaging the wood just in case it would yield to her touch. Just then, Stanley emerged from the bathroom in a cloud of steam, and Tina immediately jammed the Mask in her purse along with her makeup and keys.
"Hey, honey!" he exclaimed, drying off his hair, in his underwear and a t-shirt. Tina shied away from his peck on her cheek, adjusting the plunging neckline of her tight dress. "I've gotta go, they're pissed at this club, there's this whole thing tonight..." Tina said, not making eye contact. "Okay, well - I'll see ya!" Stanley said, giving a single wave to Tina as she leaned in the doorframe, almost out of the apartment. "Stan...you ever miss wearing the mask? The way it felt?" Tina asked, almost embarrassed.
Stanley looked at her curiously. "I don't have to...I've got you." Stanley smiled sweetly. Tina took a huge breath in, her chest heaving out of her dress as she tried to swallow his sickly sweet sentiment. With a half-hearted wink, she closed the door behind her, the Mask in her purse.