In The Attic

by Vicki Mock
As she unlocked the old chest, she grew excited about the secrets that were waiting for her. This chest hasn’t been opened for years, she thought. The attic was only dimly lit by a circular stained glass window, but her eyes had adjusted to the soft and pleasant light. Inside the chest were clothes–a silk gown with ecru cotton lace, undergarments in silk, and corsets that would squeeze one into the hour-glass shape once preferred by women of the Victorian era. She lifted the items out one by one, smiling at the beautiful treasures that she had found. Gradually the idea crept into her mind: her husband would not be home for an hour, and she was alone. The old house was theirs now, as well as everything in it. I must try these things on, she thought with a smile. Quickly removing everything she wore, she slowly and carefully dressed herself in the clothes from the trunk with the indulgence and care of a bride preparing for her wedding. The silk and lace pantaloons were exquisite against her skin, as were the pure white stockings and garter belt. The corset, though difficult to put on, gave her a strange feeling of arousal as she tightened and tied it securely with the corded laces. The gown whispered quietly as she dressed herself in it, smiling all the while in sheer sensual enjoyment. A pair of button shoes, which seemed to be made for her, and shoulder high satin gloves completed the ensemble.
She reached into the trunk to look for more and felt something wrapped in a silk handkerchief. Unfolding it, she was surprised to find a face mask made of some substance resembling soft and pliant rubber. The cheeks were plump looking, almost chubby, reminding her of the face of an innocent or naive young woman. The complexion was very white with a rosy blush on the cheeks, and the expression was mild, almost sweet, as in some of the old Victorian pictures of women she had seen. The small Cupid’s bow of a mouth was enigmatic, almost a smile, like the Mona Lisa, and the lips were quite red against the pale color of the face. The eye holes were small, the nose petite and slightly drawn up in a fashion her husband might call “cute”. The mask covered the face only, from the hairline to where the chin met the neck. The edges of the mask, including around the eyes and inside the lips and nose, were extremely thin. Tossing the handkerchief aside, she examined it carefully.
It was made of a material that was floppy with its own weight, and it had already warmed from her touch. It looked and felt like real skin. She looked closely and noted that the mask had simulated pores, and the eyebrows were real hair, each individually placed. The lips were a marvel of realism, and she concluded that this must be a mold of some young woman who may have lived one hundred years ago. How could it be so pliant, so absolutely perfect after so long a time? She sniffed it and noted that in addition to the floral bouquet of the pot potpourri that permeated everything, there was another odor which she could not identify. She sniffed it again and a strange feeling took her. She felt slightly euphoric, and her stomach had butterflies, like when she was excited or slightly afraid. She turned it over and looked at the smooth interior of the mask, the face resting down in her palms. Without thinking, she raised it to her face and pressed it close. The odor was strong and arousing. And the sensation was so strange: It seemed as if the mask were alive, subtly adjusting to her nose, hugging her lips, snuggling into the crease of her throat and around her eyelids. As she held it firmly to her face, she had a fleeting moment of awareness of her actions. What is happening here, she thought? Losing her train of thought, she realized in excitement that she must find a mirror. Turning around, she spied an old wardrobe covered with a sheet in the corner of the attic. She raced over, her gown swishing, and she felt the pleasing tightness of the corset around her waist. Pulling the sheet away, she took a breath in surprise at what she saw. She was no longer the young Twentieth Century wife dressed in jeans and a Gap T-shirt, but a beautiful young Victorian woman with her eyes wide and small mouth parted in surprise. The face was so real! She went closer to the mirror to examine the fit and to touch it. She stuck out her tongue and was filled with erotic delight at the sight of it protruding from the false face. She stood for a long time, staring as in a dream, forgetting for a time who an where she was. Her face slightly tingled. The mask had somehow remained adhered to her face with no adhesive, and her every emotion, no matter how subtle, was displayed in the mirror as if it were her own skin. This is so remarkable, she thought in a dream.
Blinking, she then thought of her husband, and of the surprise on his face when he saw her like this. Wouldn’t it be fun to be wearing this disguise when he got home? Yes, oh yes, he would love this doll’s face with its small mouth, pert nose, white complexion with red cheeks! She thought, a secret smile appearing on the perfectly formed red lips, of making love to him as this woman, and it thrilled her beyond words, although she couldn’t understand why. No matter, I will do it, she thought with excitement! She would plan an especially erotic evening for him. A Victorian style dinner with candles and the lace tablecloth her Grandmother gave her. Maybe I could convince him to put on his white tie and tails, she thought. How exciting, it’s like living in another age, like living another person’s life. She continued to stare at the face in the mirror as she thought, periodically touching the plump cheeks with her white satin gloves.
She became dimly aware of children playing outside and slowly came out of her reverie. How long have I been standing here, she thought with a laugh, and her new face smiled a demure smile, so appropriate for a young woman of her upbringing. I look so much younger, maybe 16 or 18 years old. My husband, I was thinking of him, she thought–how I will seduce him wearing this mask, pretending to be a visitor from another time, or perhaps a cousin, a very young cousin, to whom he has always been attracted, but never able to…she giggled with glee! My God, there is no trace of me, I am absorbed into another creature, the shell of her, how sweet she looks, and together we have made someone new! She curtsied to herself, as if saying hello, and smiled her enigmatic smile, so mysterious. Who am I now, she thought with delicious delight?
Dinner! She blinked, her doll’s lips went into an “O” of surprise, her white glove touching her cheek in a stylized caricature of surprise. So much to do! First, she would need to take everything off as she had to clean the house and prepare her feast. She began removing all the wonderfully scented clothing, starting with the gloves and gown. Removing the corset would be a chore, and then she would have to struggle back into it in a couple of hours. Perhaps I should keep it on while I work–yes, that sounds right. It is uncomfortably constricting, true, but somehow quite stimulating! She decided to leave the white silk stockings, bloomers, and high button shoes on as well, thinking that she would pull on her gray cotton sweat suit to keep from dirtying her beautiful under things. It would be easy later to strip off the suit and put on her gown just before her husband came home.
She looked at mask–strangely familiar yet not her face, with it’s slightly plump cheeks and insolent nose. She again admired the realism and wondered about it’s maker as well as it’s model. Without thinking, reached under the mask and began to feel with her nails for the thin edge in order to peel it away and get to her tasks. Still looking in the mirror, the thought occurred to her leave it on while she cooked and cleaned. Why not? she thought, it feels so comfortable, smooth and tight. She reached up and touched the soft fleshy lips and ran her hand over the plump cheeks. It wouldn’t hurt to leave it on, would it? I like the feel of it on my face, the tingle, the slight deadening of sensation on my face. Again she thought of her husband and how surprised he would be, and an overwhelming feeling of eroticism flooded her. Her face tingled, as if she were blushing furiously, and she rubbed her hands over her masked face to dispel the itchy sensation. She smiled into the mirror, but it was not her smile, it was a stranger’s. Where am I, she thought, with a sudden and serious curiosity?
No, I better take it off, she thought, I might damage it, or it might get too hot.
Good-bye, my dear, for now, she thought. She reached under her chin to peel it off, but after a moment of concentrated searching with her fingers, she could not find the edge of the mask at her throat. She searched carefully with her fingers, scraping with her nails and pinching the soft fleshy material. To her surprise, it would not come off. It seemed to be stuck to her face firmly and resisted any attempt at removal. In a growing panic, she yanked at the fleshy cheeks and pulled at the full lips, but it was as if she was pulling her own skin. She looked in the mirror and saw her alarm and surprise on a stranger’s face, seemingly mocking her every emotion. Again and again she examined her throat and jaw line in the mirror, hoping to find a crease that she had missed, but there was none. Her skin and the mask had become one. With a shock, she realized that she was wearing the face of a stranger, and she could not remove it!
She lay on the bed waiting for her husband to return, exhausted by her two hours of panic and shock. She felt violated, as if someone had bound her and made her perform things against her will. Finally, she had resigned herself to wait for her husband, believing that he would know what to do. She lifted the hand mirror again to her face and examined the edges of the mask for the hundredth time. The face was certainly attractive, but an adrenaline rush of fear accompanied the thought that she might have to go through the rest of her life with looking this way. Of course she did not believe for a second that this would happen. But if her husband couldn’t accomplish it–she’d have to go see a doctor–how embarrassing!
She stared at the rosy cheeks, the cupid’s bow lips, the pixie nose. Completely the opposite of her own personality, she thought. She found she could not even remember her own face, but she tried to push this stranger from her mind and with effort, imagined her own image. A strong tingling sensation suffused her face, and she quickly grabbed the mirror, hoping perhaps the mask was coming off. To her shock, she saw her own face in the mirror, not the mask. She stared with incomprehension, thinking she was hallucinating. How could this be, she asked herself–did I only imagine this frightening afternoon?
She heard her husband calling to her and she answered, excited to tell him her strange adventures, yet knowing he would never believe her, particularly since the mask was nowhere to be seen. She felt her face, examining it closely in the mirror. Everything appeared normal from the mole on her cheek to the blemish on her chin. Her husband walked into the bedroom, noting her perplexed but relieved look. She decided in an instant not to tell him, knowing she would never live down such a wild tale. She struck a pose on the bed as she noted his sly smile.
He came to her, lust in his eyes, not questioning the strange corset and stockings she wore, assuming she was only lying in wait to seduce him. She felt a huge weight removed from her, and she felt joy mixed with relief. She made love with abandon, as if celebrating. Had she really worn the mask, and had it really been attached, stuck tight, impossible to peel from her face? She pictured it in her mind, the moment she first saw her reflection in the mirror in the attic. A feeling of dread struck like a knife in her belly as she felt the same strong tingling sensation on her face. Abruptly she pushed him away and grabbed the mirror, but she knew what she would see before she held it. Her husband was looking at her with unbelief and incomprehension. Giddy with panic and fear, she tried to smile at him with baby doll lips, and said “Don’t worry darling, I’m only wearing a mask!”