by | Jul 29, 2023 | And Now

I’m late letting the dog out—have overslept—and rub my eyes more vigorously than one should. Then, from itchy eyes to itchy ears and I’m pinky deep in my left canal, which feels extra great. Satisfied, I want to see what’s accumulated—like how the vet lets the dog sniff the scope after looking into his ear—only there’s no little roll of wax under my nail. Also no nail. I flare both hands in front of my face—no nails whatsoever—just soft skin like a closed eye, or like my friend’s husband with one eye, his other socket a smooth cavern, beautiful like the curves on a wooden boat.
Have I chewed off my nails? My girlfriend’s the biter, though we’re in a fight. We’re supposed to go on a trip this weekend except she doesn’t want me to bring my dog. Ridiculous. My dog loves hotels, and where else would he go? My nail-biter girlfriend’s nailbeds are ragged—her regular bed too, with its twisted sheets and lumpy comforter like a family of opossums. You know that saying, “I wouldn’t kick her out of bed for eating crackers? My girlfriend eats Chips Ahoy in her bed. And Oreos, their lardy frosting smearing across the navy pillow.
I sit on the toilet and my dog sidles up against my legs. He doesn’t know I have no nails. He expects the usual tending, scratching, his withers shivering when I get the spot. But not only can’t I scratch my dog, I can’t peel away the tiny produce stickers covering him. Did I eat apples in my sleep? I’m not hungry—unlike the dog—though my tender finger tops itch for hammer strikes. My girlfriend’s never been violent, but I picture her wielding the hammer. She’s probably at her woodworking co-op where they stand around talking about making things out of wood for their significant others.
I still need to let the dog out and everything itches. I dreamt last night about that girl in high school who made me so mad. The one who posted on social media about her perfect dog, then after the birth of her first child wrote that everyone should know the miracle of a child. Then she posted about nearly dying in childbirth with her second kid, and it wasn’t funny at all, like how my not having nails isn’t funny.
Downstairs everything’s made of wood, and I hope I can extract the inevitable splinters without my nails. When I open the backdoor, the dog streams out, pees on the wooden lawnmower. I thought he might be curious about sniffing the inside wood before going outside—I envy his keen snout and black nails—but I guess he really had to go to the bathroom.

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