Lucy had stopped leaving her flat weeks ago. The thought of what she might see terrified her, almost as much as who might be looking back at her.
It had started small, looking at her friends’ Instagram posts. Some had smoother skin, brighter eyes, whiter teeth. Old friends now wore unfamiliar faces, reshaped into symmetrical strangers. None of it was quite right. She had assumed they were trying new filters or programs to alter their looks, but they did not look quite right in person any more, either. Features highlighted in their photos were unnatural in real life.
As she sat in the restaurant with her friends, two began to debate on ways to improve their smiles. One, and she could not longer recognise who they were, wanted a wider smile. The other agreed and pulled a knife from their bag. A moment later, the other said she wanted higher cheekbones. The other gushed through bleeding lips that it would look great on her, and helped angle her head on the table, so that the force of her bodyweight being dropped on top would use the table as a chisel, pushing the broken bones into place.
Lucy was silent in horror at the sound and the lack of reaction. She stared at her food and tried not to look up at her smiling, weeping friends.
Lucy stood in the bathroom, days later, looking at the photo one of her friends had taken of the group at dinner. She was smiling, of course. It would have been rude to look sad in that sea of perfect faces. A friend she no longer recognised beamed widely with bright red lips. Beside her, another with high cheekbones smiled lightly, wearing too-dark rouge. She looked so out of place with her bumpy skin, yellowed teeth and uneven features. But between what she had gathered from her garage and under the sink, she had found everything she needed to fix it.