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“Flakes of Nail Polish” by B.E. Seidl

B.E. Seidl is a bilingual writer of fiction and non-fiction. She composed her first stories on little booklets, which she glued together into a cardboard cover when she was only about seven years old. It was pretty clear from the beginning that her writing would lead her to explore the darker sides of life, as she’s always been fascinated by sinister tales. Her stories have appeared in the anthology Things You Can Create by StoneThreatPublishing, Flash Fiction Magazine, 101words, MicroHorror, and MicrofictionMonday Magazine.
 Apart from her fiction writing projects, she dedicates her time to literary and cinematic criticism, above all in the field of transcultural studies. She lives in Vienna, Austria.

Flakes of Nail Polish

by B.E. Seidl

Her eyes were focused on the vintage clock above the register. It was almost 6pm. She hoped he would be late. Firmly, she held the coffee cup with both of her hands. As she took a sip, she caught sight of the flashy pink of her fingernails. The color irritated her. Why hadn’t she taken the time to remove it? She glanced back at the clock. She still had another three minutes, if he was on time. Vigorously, she began to scratch at the polish on her left thumbnail. The polish peeled away -quick and easy almost as if it were eager to let go. Yet, at the edges, thin strips of polish remained, resisting her furious scraping.

A particularly nasty blur remained on the pinky nail of the right hand. No matter how hard she tried, it wouldn’t come off. She pondered about all the toxic substances the polish most likely contained. What if a thin layer remained there, gradually biting its way through to her skin? Would her body be able to absorb it? Or would it eventually poison her, mortifying her limb?

The longer she contemplated her fingers, the more she felt annoyed about the remaining blur of pink. She fished for the keys inside her purse. It almost seemed as if even the sharp house key couldn’t scrape off the intractable polish. Just when she was ready to give in, the lacquer flaked onto the table.

She looked at the fingernail. It was covered in ugly scratches, like badly healed scars. Now that all the pink was gone, she longed for a little bit of color. Her nails looked plain, almost repellent with their sickly yellowish color.

Rubbing the pink flakes against her fingertips, she began busily working out what she was going to say when he finally got there. Distractedly, she clawed at her hand and her arm. She stopped scratching only when tiny droplets of blood appeared. Fascinated, she contemplated her blemished flesh.

She shouldn’t have come here; should have sent him a message instead, explaining that she didn’t want to be with him anymore, that she needed to focus on herself, to be free.

She was about to get another coffee when she saw him rushing in. He was almost ten minutes late. Sheepishly, he approached her, looking for excuses. She just smiled at him weakly. Both ordered a cup of coffee.

For a few long minutes nobody spoke. Then, she heard his muffled voice:

“There was something you wanted to talk to me about?”

“Yes”, she said, her voice was soft, almost like a whisper, “but somehow I forgot.”