Grey started flowing across the skies. Twilight was fading, the night unfolding. We came from different roads aiming towards our own destinations. Fate played with our paths and directed us towards the crossroad. We met at one junction. Meeting masked faces while taking few gazes. Reluctant to trust, for all we saw were blank faces. I knew we’d be stuck with each other. We had to. The world was getting dark and the night is cold.
Could have had our individual camps but something was pulling us to share one. Fire to keep us warm throughout the night was what we needed. A small one, we ignited. The fire danced with the wind as it flickered, showing glimpses of the surrounding masks. The night was black and freezing. Surrounded by the bitter silence. We were there, but still, the silence was deafening. Staring blankly and silently at the fire as it approaches its last sequence before dying.
A cracking sound snapped the silence. Someone brave cracked his mask feeding a part to the fire to keep it alive. It takes guts to be vulnerable and to trust. We were moved. It was then I realized that I too was also wearing one. One by one, each started doing the same. The fire revived to its youth and it brought the warmth back to the night. We were happy.
Starting its new set of dance, the fire strobed over the cracks of each mask. What I saw was beyond the cracks. Behind were eyes longing to glisten, lips barred from smiling, and for some, scars tried to be hidden. The silent darkness slowly turned to warm conversations. I guess being vulnerable builds trust and brings forth closeness. Frowns turned to laughter. Strangers became friends. Unconsciously we kept on cracking our masks slowly revealing the faces behind little by little. We gradually learned to trust. Suddenly it felt home.
But as the fire grew, the light shone brighter. Some got overwhelmed by the fire. The fear of getting burned and the anxiety of being exposed created the distance. Doubts, what-ifs, and presentiments prevented us from breaking our masks further. Hiding the scars underneath. Scars from the past. Scars we are afraid to show. The warmth and light that we’ve been so happy about has become the thing that threatened us. Why are we so hesitant to show the real person underneath? I guess it is human nature to have reservations. To protect himself from uncertainties.
Conversations slowly dying. We are falling into the wave cycle of peaking and fading. No one cared to feed the fire as we blankly stare at it as it succumbs to its last moments. For the last time, the fire busted out its last flicker, leaving flying embers in the cold air. We went back to what we used to be. Staring at each other’s moon-pale faces. Moments left hanging. The cold wind once again prevailed and the night went silent. Another day is dawning. Everybody has gathered his own load. We went back to being strangers again, heading to our own individual destinations. As the last falling ember kissed the ground, we bid farewell and went on wearing new sets of masks. Only ashes and embers, of what used to be a blazing fire, were left on the ground. The ground where our paths crossed. The ground where we once felt warm.
I can only hope that we will not forget that we used to be more than just acquaintances. And for once, our paths crossed. That we once felt home in each other’s company. Surrounding the campfire we made. Campfire built from courage and bravery, emblazoned by trust and vulnerability. But all I can do is to hope for what was left are the falling embers kissing the cold ashes of what remained from our once burning friendship.