The smile

It should be forbidden to look so young, I thought as I was checking my outfit in the half figure mirror. I was getting ready for my first day at work as team leader and my left eye was twitching with the same rhythm of a car indicator, a clear sign that I would have rather go to the dentist than facing my new team. The three interview rounds did nothing to increase my self-confidence, reinforcing instead the idea that I was riding a lucky wave.

“Of course, they must hire me, I have the qualifications, and they know how old I am. But as soon as the team will see me, they will not take me seriously,” I replied to my boyfriend, when he pointed out that they chose me, for the job.

I am small, and since I was a teenager my hormonal balance decided to strike long term, leaving my skin at the mercy of thousands of pimples, which feasted gleefully now on my forehead, now my chin, sometimes, when I was lucky, they would move towards the neck, allowing me to hide their havoc under a grey scarf.

“Come on, it is not a tragedy to have some pimples,” was something I heard a lot from my friends. I know they are well intended but they don’t know what is like to go out in the world, working hard to show your worth and at the same time having a skin operating as a disclaimer of your age. I always had to work double to convince that I do belong to the adult world, and not as an underage appendix to someone.

“You are overreacting,” my boyfriend told me once when I showed him defeated three tiny bumps, which I knew would take hold of my skin for the next few weeks, first red and eventually maturing into an unappealing white dot. “Oh yeah, you think? Then you would like to know that the other day a colleague suggested me that having sex might be a good cure for my pimples,” I told him. He laughed with his mouth wide open and promptly agreed to the suggested cure, but he missed the point where my colleague thought that my pimples were due to a chastity vow. And what is worse than knowing that your colleague worries about your sex life, anyway?

My skin was my business card, which introduced me before I even had the chance to speak, and it was not singing my praises.

I sighed as I grabbed my foundation cream before remembering that the dermatologist forbade me to use it. But I needed something. “I can’t face new colleagues with my bare face, I need something to put on,” I shouted to my boyfriend who half asleep was finishing his morning coffee.

“I have an idea,” he said. Through the mirror I saw him getting up slowly and waited for him to tell me his magic trick. He was behind my back and leaned a little forward to peek at my face. He looked at him studying my face.

“There,” he said and pointed at my mouth. “Put a bright smile there, and nobody will be able to see your skin.”

He kissed the latest pimple I conveniently got on my neck and left me there, admitting that after all, there was not much more I could do.

I put an extra layer of lipstick and I smiled to myself, ready to show my skin to the world.

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