A whisper of pink stops abruptly, poised against an almond curve that is bone white. A perfect half ellipsis at the tip made for tapping surfaces like an impatient stiletto against floor tiles. The best part is to drum them against a hard surface, each one falling with a reverberated click.

Their existence is new to me, a strength spurred on by vitamins. I’m obsessed with their smoothness, harkening back to the cheeks of porcelain dolls I used to collect. The pearly tips are versatile; offer a scratch that cures the itch from a mosquito, or a gentle brush that inspires goose bumps and sighs. Bare, their variations are obvious – one longer than another, rounder than another. Painting encourages conformity, sticky color slicked on with an attention-grabbing sheen. Paint helps conceal; it hides the specs of dirt and dust that cluster where the white outgrows the flesh. Years and years ago when we were young, they were the reason he liked my friend, a compliment that made her fondly examine her own for days.

My favorite part is when the color starts to chip, and I can use those strong tips to pick, pick, pick it off until only tiny, country-like shapes are left. Inevitably their audacious length will defy gravity, and my teeth will find their edges in an attempt to trim them down. Little strips peel off against my tongue, the curved white slivers pliable.

Bitten down from their former glory, the process will start all over again. The tiny white nubs will eek out growth measured in millimeters until they are long enough, almond enough for me to admire and covet and paint all over again.


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