It’s a writing contest on a blog, people. I don’t know what all the fuss and fanfare is about.

I decided to join in on Katie’s competition involving the Seven Deadly Sins, or as we Buddhists prefer to call them: the seven human hindrances. Check out this link to find out all about it.

The basic scoop is that anyone can enter a 0-600 word submission about the sin/hindrance/flavor Katie selects.  A panel of judges will narrow down the submissions to their top five or so picks; then Katie will post them for the general blogging community to vote. It’s kind of like the The Voice–not to be confused with Lorna’s Voice–where all kinds of starry-eyed hopefuls vie for the attentions of a few flashy judges in tricked-out chairs. The only difference is that there aren’t a zillion commercial interruptions, sob stories, or record deals at the end of the contest (at least I don’t think so). And the judges probably don’t feel the love as much as Cee Lo does. Other than that, this contest is nearly identical to The Voice.

The second of the sins/hindrances is Envy. Here’s my submission for your reading jealousy…pleasure. In case you missed my first submission on Gluttony, click here. I only suggest this because I’m treating these entries as a series involving the same character, so you will see her struggle with each human hindrance.

Behind the Mask

She could see it in their eyes. That’s why she never looked at them directly; well, at least not at the women. Men’s eyes revealed the kind of poison she knew how to swallow, but not the women’s eyes. She had no antidote for what they injected straight into her heart.

She’d seen that look many times before.

“Don’t stare at me. I told you it ain’t polite to stare at people,” her mother said to her reflection as she watched in little-girl wonder at how powder, mascara, and lipstick created a mask, transforming her mother’s sallow, withered face into something close to radiant.

“You’re so pretty now, Ma. Can you teach me how to put that stuff on?” she said.

“Not on your life, Missy. God knows where you got your looks and you sure as hell ain’t gonna whore yourself up under my roof. Now get yourself outta here. I got a friend comin’ over and I don’t want you gettin’ in the way.”

She was nine. Or was she eight when this happened? Maybe it didn’t happen. She often lived in a fantasy world. That’s what her mother said with a disdain that suggested she needed a cure for this unfortunate condition. She liked to think she had a vivid imagination, but what she thought didn’t matter.

She knew about her mother’s “friends” and how they looked at her. She also remembered her mother’s narrow-eyed glare at her when she caught them looking. It was a hard look that said, “Why do you have to be so damn young and pretty?”

If only she could make a mask like her mother made, maybe she could become someone radiant like the sun—someone her mother would love; but that didn’t happen.

She learned how to make her own mask, though; and she became someone else she never could be without the mask. Behind the mask, she didn’t care that women envied her for her beauty and sensuality or that men only loved her for what—not who—they  saw. The mask and her imagination took her places she never expected. Then again, she never expected much.

She made a career out of being the woman behind the mask. Most men fell to their knees in her presence. She learned how to make them hers when the mask was in place. Most women were drawn to her and some emulated her as best they could. There was magic in the mask and these women wanted it badly. Imitation wasn’t, she found, only a form a flattery; it was a form of premeditated murder. Women wanted her gone. And so the acerbic stares continued, as if their stinging rays could pierce and dismantle the mask and the woman behind it.

When she was alone in her bathroom and all that remained of the mask was smeared colors on so many tissues scattered around her, she was naked and bewildered. Without the mask to define her, who was she? Adored goddess? Bitch?

She glared at the remnants of mask as if she was one of those plain women, her eyes muddled with the same odd concoction of adoration and hatred she had seen all of her life, and said, “I want to be just like you. you have it all.”

The mask stared back from the bits and pieces around her. It whispered, “And I wish I could be just like you. You are the one who has it all.”

She grabbed a marble soap dish and threw it at the mirror.

Go to Katie’s blog to read other awesome Envy submissions. (That I am so willing to promote other people’s stories is proof that envy is NOT a deadly sin that is killing me. That I have to tell you this is evidence that Pride is something I might have to work on.)

I ask again, friends and readers, who is this woman so obviously hindered, so perfectly flawed in her humanity? I’ll tell you at the end of the series.

The suspense is killing me. Is finger biting one of the deadly sins? I hope not, because I’m a gonner if it is.