Seven a.m. on a Monday and it was time for the happy-pretty-student-face to come out. A skirt, Converse, mascara, a smile. She wore her books like jewelry, weighty expensive pendants made of words she didn’t understand. Coffee in her left hand like a confessional brag: “oops, I didn’t get enough sleep last night! God, I have so much homework, I’m so stressed” but her dark circles were concealed and the smile was still pinned up.
Two p.m., Saturday. Debate. Executive heels; conservative eyeliner. The new face spoke loudly and wanted you to vote pro. She took small confident steps in her pencil skirt and wrote things down quickly like they were very important. She shook hands and smiled blankly across at pair after pair of opponents: Great job, thanks for debating us, good luck today, great job. She acted as if she knew lots of things for certain, as if her uncomfortable blazer imparted some deep knowledge. She would not take off her heels or the spell would be broken and they would all see that she was only pretending to know everything she said.
Ten p.m. on a Friday: cue the fun-cool-carefree girl face. Dark eyeliner and highlighter and a laughing mouth that tried to forget the schoolwork waiting at home. She slung her body as if she weren’t trying to look pretty, and feverishly checked her hair in the bathroom mirror when no one was around. She pretended that she didn’t care how she looked in the picture. Oh, that’s so cute (why is my face so greasy) send it to me! (please don’t post it).
Nine at night on a lazy Sunday, and her face had been replaced with a bare new one, small-eyed and slack-cheeked. Her unaware feet and prickly calves and frizzy hair stretched on top of bedsheets. Staring at a bedroom wall, music in her ears, was she really a person if there was no one around to look at her?