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The Price Of Painted Toenails MAG
The paint on my toenails was chipping today. Pieces of green and orange fluttered to the floor where the wooden boards swallowed them up, remembering my stiff waddle when I first painted them. Remembering my sandals the next day, so that everyone could see how happy I was to have perfect toenails, that – God forbid – didn't even have a crack in them.
Until they did.
The tiny lines would bury in the paint, despite the many coats of paint I applied, how many times I told my toes I love you, don't go, I could never replace you with that acid green in my bedroom cabinet because it's too clumpy and hard. I wondered why my toes wouldn't listen.
You liked the cracks. “Leave them,” you said. And you laughed with that laugh that made us tower above the small flat world so we could avoid the breaks in the sidewalk and count the stars with our smiles.
Your laugh was the summer when Tuesday became Sunday, and Friday was Wednesday, and I ate the same number of Cheerios each morning. It was the summer when we held hands and I learned to hate tomatoes and never removed the nail polish, not once.
I saw you today at the restaurant where you told me that the only thing that scared you more than death was tomorrow. You were smiling at someone who used to be me. Used to hate tomatoes and lose track of time. Used to. I bet the paint on her toenails was flawless.
You were there and I was here and we were separated by an entire round world of smiles and breaks in the sidewalk.
My toenails were bare today. I tried to laugh and convince myself that they looked better that way. And you know what? They almost did.
Orchard Park, New York
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