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By Erika Price

I met Satan today. Actually, his name was Shawn. He was standing outside a beauty product store at the mall greeting patrons, his hands outstretched with moisturizer samples. Now, to be clear, I haven’t purposely set foot inside a mall since leg warmers were cool, and I had no idea that it has turned into an American Ninja Warrior course of high-pressured kiosks and desperate salespeople. I thought Shawn actually wanted me to have free moisturizer. 

And then I made the first mistake.

I took the sample.

Shawn then promised me another great sample if I would just take one step into the store. One step. I hesitated. I stepped. And then I was trapped. 

Shawn wrapped his arm around my shoulders and turned me toward a mirror. “You have such beautiful eyes,” he said. My stomach did a little flip. I hadn’t heard someone say that in, well, ever. Just to be clear, my eyes are not my best feature. They’re the color of pond water, and they slant at the sides just enough so that I look perpetually bored. I’ve even been told I look a bit like Sandy Duncan—the Triscuit lady from the 80s. She had a glass eye. But maybe Shawn had a thing for women with saggy, prosthetic-ish eyes?  

“You’re so cute,” he said as he looked at my reflection with me.  My stomach giggled. I started to settle into my chair.

But then Shawn changed tactics.

“Unfortunately, you have some wrinkles around your eyes.” He shoved a magnified mirror at my face. My stomach gulped. He was right. He was more than right. I didn’t have just a few wrinkles. My eyes appeared to be sprouting tributaries. I suddenly looked more like Betty White than Sandy Duncan.

“Oh, and did you know that your body hasn’t been making collagen since you were 25?” Shawn looked at me knowingly. I wasn’t pulling off 29 or even 39. He was calling me out.

“I’m 47 this year,” I said, barely audible.

“That’s 20 years without collagen,” Shawn said, shaking his head in dismay.

It had only been about 100 seconds since I’d met Shawn, but he had already taken my usually confident self and wadded me up into a ball of wrinkled, neglectful, middle-aged shame.

I was too busy drooping under the weight of my mortality to notice Shawn priming a syringe that looked like it had tranquilized horses in a previous life. I turned just in time to see Shawn squeeze flesh-colored putty out of the syringe onto his finger. Before I could ask what the substance was, Shawn started rubbing it—and probably Covid-19—under my right eye. 

“You won’t believe the difference this will make. Just wait a few seconds and you’ll see the results,” he crooned.

A few moments later, I started to feel the skin under my right eye tingle and tighten and then turn to Cretaceous granite. As panic spread across my face, Shawn started to smirk.

“Are you feeling it?” he asked, as if feeling the same symptoms of a mild stroke were completely normal. 

“Now look at the difference.” He pressed the mirror in close so I could see the miracle. 

“See how much younger you look? See how the wrinkles have disappeared? See how different that eye is than the other one?” 

I leaned closer. I guess my right eye was a little less wrinkled. A little. 

I wanted to feel the exhilaration of having pulled a fast one on Mother Nature and Father Time with my smooth skin, but all I could think of was how much I’d rather have two wrinkled eyes instead of one normal eye and one that felt like it was starting to slide toward my nose.

Shawn handed me a small rectangular black box with French-ish words written in gold font. 

“Now normally this would cost $600, but today I’m going to let you have it for $200,” he said, his voice dripping with feigned generosity.

I stared at him numbly. I had just driven 20 miles in a 2012 minivan to a mall just so I could get a good deal on a watch repair because I was too cheap to buy a new one. I was wearing a pair of bleach-stained yoga pants. And I hadn’t set foot near a shower for 2 days. Did he think I was the type of woman who was going to fork out $200 to administer a regimen of self-induced Bell’s palsy under my eyes every morning? 

In the first moment of clarity I had experienced since arriving at his store, I finally realized what Shawn was selling, and the expense was astounding. 

And so I handed him back the box. I smiled at him kindly with my one working eye and told him I was leaving. As I wished him a good day, Shawn’s once flirty brown gaze turned a darker shade.

“Yeah,” he muttered, looking away with a dismissive flick of his hand as I exited his store. 

It’s been several hours since leaving Shawn, and my eyes are almost back to their wrinkled, slanty selves. I can once again see every single one of my 47 years take shape on my face. 

I recognize my sleepless nights with five newborns. My fits of laughter with friends. My days spent in garden soil. My winks at my husband. My propensity to cry when watching parades. My hours of reading murder mysteries in the dim light of night. My love of singing George Michael ballads on my way to the mall to fix broken watches. 

It’s my life. 

And it’s a beautiful life—artfully etched into the memory of my skin where collagen used to be.



Erika Dahl Price earned both her BA in Humanities (1998) and her MA in English (2004) from BYU. She has taught writing in the Honors Program and English Department for a combined total of 20 years as both adjunct and visiting faculty. She is the mom of five boys, the wife of a computer-programming introvert, and the owner of an enormous golden retriever named Rockefeller. Erika’s lesser accomplishments include making chocolate chip cookies from start to finish in 15 minutes, working as a DJ for a classical music radio station, and being the 5th best pickleball player in her family of 7.