Fiction, Storytelling, Tomfoolery & Shenanigans

Polished

A Short Story by Justine Allread

Like clockwork, she scheduled her nail appointment for today, Tuesday at 5.00 PM right after her shift at work ends. She deserves it. She could wait another week more—her nails don’t grow that quickly—but having nail appointments consistently scheduled every other Tuesday bring her joy in her otherwise dull life. Something just for her. A place where no one would ask questions or make requests of her. No expectations, just high-quality primping and pampering as recommended by authorized Yelp users.

She pulled on her sweatshirt and leggings, ready to head out the door when her boyfriend stopped her. “Are you getting your nails done today?” she nodded, pocketing her car keys. He pouted, “just once,” he pleaded, “do it for me. Please. Please. You always pick that color for your nails. What is that? Tan?  It’s so Boring. Pick blue. For me. Please, babe.”

She patted his cheek, shut the door behind her, hopped into her car, and drove to work.

It’s not tan, she should’ve said. It’s taupe. A neutral taupe. Taupe is not a boring color. Taupe is classic. Taupe is serene. Taupe is beautiful. Unlike work. Work is the complete opposite. Work is boring. Boring, boring, boring, and unending like the line of prissy, middle class customers who she rings up and bags items for. But they probably wouldn’t think her choice of nail color is boring. They wouldn’t ask her to pick blue just for them. Honestly. Taupe is a great color. Her boyfriend doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He has no taste.

In fact, everyone else compliments her nails. So clean. So fresh. So long and healthy. Cuticles? Nope.

Her coworker, Justine, agreed.

“Girl, listen” said Justine after hearing about her nail situation. “These are your nails. Get the color you want. I mean, is he paying for it? Nah? See. You tell him you gon’ get blue if he pays for it. Maybe if he pays for it. Maybe. Nah, that’s a great color. You get the color you want.”

She would! That’s right! These are her nails. She’ll paint them whatever color she wants! Taupe gracefully complements her skin tone. Taupe, as a neutral, matches with everything: jeans and a t-shirt for a lazy day out or a flowing gown for a photoshoot. It’s the color of her favorite purse. It’s the color of sand at the beach.

Sand at the beach. Sand that gets kissed by the beautiful ocean. A beautiful blue ocean. Like the ocean after a good, long day at the beach. Like the sky at lunchtime. Like the color of his car. Like the color of her boyfriend’s favorite sweater. And she’s his favorite person. He never asks her to do anything else for him.

She arrived at the nail salon fifteen minutes before her scheduled appointment, her fingers tapping the empty plastic chair beside her. Soon, the nail artist sat her at one of the tables, ready to paint her nails. She watched as the nail artist painted one hand, and then the the other. Two coats usually did the trick. The television hanging above her head, a little to the left, distracted her while her nails dried under the UV light. She passed a tip to the nail artist, and the drove home–the radio’s volume low; her nails clicking against the steering wheel.

“Hey, baby,” her boyfriend greeted as her shoes fell to the floor, “What do you want to eat for dinner? Order in? Pizza? Chinese? We could cook-.” He paused, stunned, taking her hands in his, running his fingers over her nails. With a smile, she kissed him on the cheek and whispered, “Don’t get used to it.”

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