I sit in a chair in a hallway where the air smells sterile.

The only sounds I can hear are the whirling and beeping of machines, the occasional murmuring of nurses as they pass by.

And what sounds like the anthem of an 80’s cartoon sing out from one of the patient rooms.

I sit by the phone ready to answer it.

But it makes no sound.

There’s nothing to do.

I study my finger nails.

I’ve let them get far too long.

What would my mom say if she saw them?

If she saw how long I’ve let them grow?

That’s probably why I haven’t told her or let her focus too long on my hands.

Because I know how disappointed she’d be if she knew.

Saw how long and twisted I’ve let them get.

Seen all of the dirt under them.

That I couldn’t keep them under control.

Couldn’t keep anything under control.


Out of all my untamed fingernails.

The one I’m most focused on is the middle finger nail on my left hand.

It’s grown longer than the others and especially sharp at the end. 

 So sharp it gets caught on my pants and clothing sometimes.

I hate when that happens.

I hate how uncontrolled and long they are.

I hate looking at them.

Hate feeling them against my scalp or skin.

I make a claw on the desk with my left hand.

Pressing the tips of my nails down against the table.

I run them back and forth against the cool metal of the table, in what may be a futile attempt to file them down.

I run my nails back and forth over the table.

Back and forth. 

Back and forth.

And I don’t stop.

Just keep going and going.

Till the loudest thing in this hallway is the sound of my nails scratching against the surface of the metal table.


Maybe if I do it long enough the time will fly by.

Maybe if I do it long enough I’ll get to leave.

At least maybe it’ll be quiet for a minute.

But no matter how loud I do it or how long, it doesn’t keep back the sounds of machines whirling, or people talking, or the cheesy 80’s music for very long.

And it certainly doesn’t make the phone ring.