A Fingernail is Nothing


A Fingernail is Nothinguntil one day it isn’t there. Not chipped, not broken. Just a blank space on your fingernub.

Your manicurist wrinkles her nose. Just ignore it, you tell her. Any color is fine.

You weren’t hoping for the yellow she finally gives you. You are not one to make a statement or stand out.

Later that night, your back goes flamey with hives. You’ve been meaning to get to what’s causing them. Potato chips, maybe. Or maybe, your lover, Hank.

Your lover, Hank, has been showing up less and less. Your mouth tells him you understand whenever he finally calls.

You fall asleep, potato chip crumbs on your chest. You were testing to see if they were the cause, and they aren’t. Your hives are gone and also two more fingernails.

You think about calling Hank. Really make him listen. Tell him that your heart is a flower that needs to be watered.

You return to the nail salon. Would Hank even listen to you with naked fingers? You can always buy a backscratcher, you tell yourself. And you tell the manicurist, the one who wrinkled her nose, that you want all of your fingers painted bright screaming scarlet.

When she says she can’t polish fingernails that she can’t see, you tell her that it would be a good thing for her to learn to see what isn’t there.

Photo used under CC.


About Author


Francine Witte is the author of four poetry chapbooks and two full-length collections, Café Crazy and The Theory of Flesh from Kelsay Books. Her flash fiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologized in the most recent New Micro (W.W. Norton). Her novella-in-flash, The Way of the Wind, has just been published by Ad Hoc Fiction, and her full-length collection of flash fiction, Dressed All Wrong for This was recently published by Blue Light Press. She lives in New York City.

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