Try This One Weird Trick for A More Youthful Look in Minutes

Edited by Kate Dollarhyde

Copyedited by Chelle Parker

October 2020

1188 words — Reading time: around 5 minutes

It is remarkable what a difference it makes. Only twenty minutes a day. No special tools required. I was skeptical at first, but then I tried it and saw the results for myself.

Now, I peel my skin off every night.

If you, too, would like to unlock the secret to flawless skin, just follow these simple steps. Begin with the center crease of your left palm. Dig the fingernails of your right hand in until the skin begins to split. If you’ve ever peeled an orange before, you already know what to do. Pull the skin away. Not all of it, just the top few layers. Go slow. If you go too fast, it will rip like the price stickers on those plastic bins from the dollar store. After the palm, peel the fingers, the arm.

Already the results will be evident. The new skin underneath the old is pink and tender, glistening like the inside of a grapefruit, pinpricks of blood gathering along the surface like drops of dew.

The new skin is fresh and pure. It is blooming, immaculate, luminous. It is more beautiful than the old skin, because nothing has ever touched it. For the love of all that is holy, DO NOT touch it. Not yet. To do so hurts more than I have words to describe.

When you are done, you will need to rest. I recommend placing a towel on the floor ahead of time for the blood. Hold still. Keep the lights low. Play gentle instrumentals or white noise. Nothing with voices.

Perhaps you are wondering: What do I do with all the old skin? There will be a lot of it, once you start doing this every day. And you will need to do this every day.

You will quickly find, after you begin, that leaving the old skin in place becomes intolerable. It will itch, it will squeeze, it will irk like an ill-fitting garment. This feeling will grow in intensity every hour, from the moment you wake until the moment you can finally peel it off and find relief.

Plan ahead. This is why I share this with you. So you can learn from my mistakes.

Who did I learn from? Choose whichever option you prefer: it is an ancient custom from a culture you find exotic; a tip I picked up in my travels; a tradition passed down through the generations; a suggestion from a qualified holistic dermatologist; a technique discovered by a housewife in Ohio (doctors hate her); an idea I came up with by myself, somewhat by accident, while overzealously pulling at a hangnail.

Does it matter? I was like you. I’d tried everything. Nothing worked. Until this.

Once, about a week after I first began my beauty regimen, traffic slowed nearly to a halt on my evening commute. The old skin had been squeezing me for hours. Desperate, I pulled into the first gas station I saw, ran to the bathroom, locked the door, tore my clothes off, dug my nails under the skin. Ripped.

The world retracted until it was just me and the tiny white-tiled universe of that room. I was reckless. My nails caught on the delicate new skin beneath the old.

I must have screamed. I believe I passed out. When I woke, someone was banging on the door.

The paper towels stuck in the dispenser and all I could get were scraps, but I cleaned the blood as best I could. Pulling my clothes back on was torture, the new skin sensitive to even the lightest touch.

The old skin lay piled beneath me like a heap of onion peels. I had not yet figured out what to do with it. At home I’d been folding the skin up flat, storing it under the bed in plastic bins from the dollar store.

I was embarrassed, I admit. The trashcan in the gas station bathroom was beyond full with paper towels overflowing the lid, waterfalling their way to the floor. The person banging on the door was shouting something about 911. So I panicked and, like a spy in an old film, destroyed the evidence the only way I could think of.

I ate it. Stuffed the shavings of skin into my mouth and chewed. Swallowed. Over and over until all of it was gone. That is what I did, and what I have been doing every day since.

And that is what I recommend you do. The skin is tough, but not unpleasantly so. The taste is salty. Satisfying.

Listen — your skin is the only thing that stands between you and the world. It soaks up everything: ultraviolet light, exhaust fumes, the anger of strangers. Every experience leaves an imprint. Maybe, if you are still young, you haven’t noticed yet, but it is all there, building day by day, pressing deeper and deeper into your skin until everyone can see.

But peel the skin down your shoulder and all evidence of the day’s worry is instantly erased. Ease it over your chest, and that look your boss gave you earlier, the way his gaze lingered too long: gone. Shimmy the skin down your hips, roll it down each leg. Cast it all off. Scratches, scrapes, and papercuts. Judgmental glances. Unwelcome touches. Strong winds. Worry. Industrial chemicals. Scorn.

The face takes the longest, but it is vital. Tricky spots include the lips, the ears, the nostrils. Each foul smell. Each forced smile. Each stifled scream. The skin around the eyes is the hardest of all. Here, I must confess, I do sometimes use scissors.

Your skin soaks up all the damages of the day. Cast it off, and you are unscarred.

It’s true, you will lose other things from the day as well. The warmth of sunlight on your arms. The gentle breeze which brushed your face. The wet nose of a friendly dog. The softness of the pillow against your cheek. The touches of those who love you.

If you eat the old skin instead of throwing it away, you can keep all that and still be beautiful.

You keep the rest of it too, of course — the pain, the trouble. But those things need not worry you a moment longer. This is what I’ve learned. They will not show on your face.

They will be safely inside you, tucked deep in the darkest parts of you, where no one can see. And no one will ever know.

© 2020 Maria Romasco Moore

About the author

Maria Romasco Moore

Maria Romasco Moore is the author of Ghostographs, an interconnected collection of flash fiction inspired by vintage photographs. Her first novel, Some Kind of Animal, will be out August 2020. Her stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Lightspeed Magazine, DIAGRAM, Hobart, Interfictions Online, Kaleidotrope, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and the anthology Women Destroy Science Fiction. She is a graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop and has an MFA from Southern Illinois University. She is also an instructor at Columbus College of Art and Design.