She wets her cotton round in micellar water and rubs it across her face. As she wipes her makeup off, she also takes her insecurities and battered self-esteem with it. She pumps a small amount of cleanser in her palm and gently rubs her hands together to create a lather. Then she rubs the gel on her face, gathering up the rest of the day’s grime: the constant anxiety of being late and messing up, the pressure to be perfect, the self-hate from not having the right body shape or clothes. She roughly rubs her face gathering all of that up and splashes her face with cold water, and watches it all go down the drain.
The first thing to slip was her accent. She had spent weeks practicing her French, making it sound as if she was fluent. Her first slip-up was when she pronounced the “t” at the end of s’il vous plaît. She looked down at the table to avoid his reaction and took a sip of her café au lait, which burned her tongue and brought tears to her eyes. She had forgotten that she ordered her coffee très chaud because it seemed like the French thing to do. He showed no indication of catching her mistake and continued to ask her questions about growing up in France. She nibbled on her croissant and kept her answers as brief as possible.