The Things I Do For Love by AliMom
This Sentence Starts The Story contest entry
I put on my mask and entered the building. It wasn't the first time. Something told me it wouldn't be the last. You'd think someone might notice a six-foot-two guy in a mask wearing a trench coat in ninety-degree, sunny weather. But, no, not a backward glance or double-take from the lot of them. That was good. It made this a lot easier. I'd wisely remembered to leave the coat on this time so the stares and curious looks would at least wait until I'd gone through the revolving door and across the lobby to the elevators but nobody even gave me a second glance as I hustled through.
That's the upside of living in New York. Nobody notices anything unless it affects them directly. If it doesn't cuddle up in bed with them or slap them on the side of the head, it doesn't exist. The downside is that the costume had already begun to itch, and sweat began to trickle in all the old familiar places. It was an uncomfortable but necessary part of the ruse.
Not that anyone on the other side of the mask would have noticed. To the casual onlooker, It was a face painted in a permanent, plastic expression of excited delight. It said cheerful, happy, fun. If they could have seen what lay behind the mask, the grimacing, pained expression of a haggard, very put upon grown man, they would not have attempted to approach the happy side. In fact, a passer-by might have run screaming for the police. I've seen horror movies. I could picture old Mrs. Hancy running down the hall now, robe flapping in the wind, hair curlers flying.
But enough of that. I have to concentrate on the matter at hand. I'd already stubbed my toe badly because of the shoes. Good old pair of sneakers would have done the job just as well, "I said". But no, if you're going in, go in all the way. Now, my big toe hurt like heck. And I had the uncomfortable feeling the hall might have cameras and there I'd be on the Youse Tubes or the eleven o'clock news. I was sure I'd be arrested. Or fired. Or both.
Luckily, nobody is on the floor as I exit the elevator except Fluffy and she loves everybody, as her owner will happily tell you. I swear I can hear the theme from Mission Impossible- probably someone's television. I slink down the hallway. I wait. It wouldn't do to enter too hastily. Timing is everything in these situations.
I'll have to get rid of the coat now. It was too warm anyway. Sweltering really. Breathing heavily, I slide the coat carefully over the right sleeve and notice a small tear near the elbow. Shoot! I hadn't noticed it earlier. Too late to do anything about it now. I try to pinch it together so nothing will show through.
I can hear them inside now squealing and screaming. I slowly turn the key waiting for the satisfying click. Naturally, this is the time when the bolt sticks. That's when Mrs. Hancy pokes her head out the door to check on Fluffy. In a panic, I stumble hard through the opening door. Their screams reach a fever pitch and in my best falsetto fairy princess voice I yell, "Happy Fourth Birthday Molly! It's me, Princess Happy Time!"
The tutu pinches, the crinoline scratches, my shoulder is now killing me and the tiny princesses lose their collective little girl minds.
My wife whispers, "Great job honey. Even better than last year. "Yeah, Dad," smiles my eldest, "Only two more to go."
I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry. Instead, I sigh and look at daughter number two's beaming, contented, ice-cream-covered face.
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