Short story from Evan Almon


Evan Almon

Curling his fingers into his palm in a limp fist, the son examined his fingernails.

The son had a bad habit of cutting his nails a bit too short so they were pink and sensitive; he fell into this habit because his father did the same. A real manifestation of hereditary OCD if ever there was one.

His fingernails had grown out an off-white opaque about the length of the bend in a staple. He would know, for at his age, he thought it brilliant to use a staple to just try and dig out the dirty brownish-bluish streaks which were probably ink and the other crud of life all wedged underneath, like dust bunnies in their dens. Time to trim. Things grow, and you cut them down to a suitable size, so it goes.

The son arose from bed, pushed his headphones over and off his ears then placed them on the bedside table, and a bathroom drawer later, the young boy held the stainless-steel fingernail clippers between his right fingers and swiveled them into the leveraged trimming position.

It was a particularly stressful night for a ten-year-old, no matter how loud your headphones go, you can never seem to blur out the sound of loathing. Even now he could hear their problems, two flights of stairs and a hallway away.

So he sat on the cool tile floor in his basketball shorts and white t-shirt, nestled his left wrist in the crook of his legs and extended his fingers towards the clippers clasped in his right hand. He started snipping in small arcs, trying to do so, in one fluid motion. Usually it resulted in two or three to round into a smooth shape.

After he was finished, to his dismay, the son was confronted with rough angular edges like a trapezoid. That simply would not do. So he recommenced with his left thumb. He had to maneuver carefully and only use the center of the clippers to nip away the jutting miniature Keratin Mountains. Unfortunately it seemed that he couldn’t curve correctly and constantly the cuts were uneven and grew deeper. They turned a raw red and had just skipped the tender rosy stage. Tiny bloody beads bubbled up, going from globule to droplet, coursing down the sides of his thumb now the way his tears followed suit down his cheeks.

The son’s fingers wouldn’t just be sensitive now that he would need a Band-Aid—or several; since he still had his other four fingers and the rest of his right hand.