Nicki Butler is a psychology junior and Mustang News opinion columnist. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.

I remember the last people who saw my face before the world went dark. I flashed my friend a smile as I slid into the passenger seat of her car. I eyed strangers as we walked downtown towards the theatre. I said “thank you” to the ticket taker as he pointed to the right door. I didn’t know then, that those would be the last strangers who would see me smile for a long time. 

Cheeks, teeth, lips, nose, chin, were never the parts you’re supposed to cover up. But now I have a short list of intimate lovers who have seen them close up: my partner, my mother, my sister, my roommates, my dentist. 

And now, a year later and armed with my antibodies, I’ve started to be a little more promiscuous. Every time I lower my mask to someone new, my breath catches with the seeming lewdness of it all. 

It feels like telling someone a secret. A secret: I have freckles. A secret: I hate my nose. A secret: it took three years of braces to get my teeth to look like this. (And a retainer that I never wore.) A secret: my breath smells like coffee. A secret: the inside of my mask is covered in lipstick. A secret: I mouth profanities at people who don’t wear one. A secret: my mask means I love you, but I can’t wait until I don’t have to wear it anymore. 

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