He had only caught you a few times, sneaking up from behind, each step as stealth as a tiptoeing cat, shattering the silence with a WHAT ARE YOU DOING that booms in your brain but, in reality, is barely above what school teachers call your “inside voice.”

You do not answer and he does not need you to answer because he saw. On the edge of the bed—your side of the bed, not his, you remind him—you are hunched over, your back curved like a crescent moon or maybe a crescent roll with your feet dangling a foot above the floor, clipping your toe nails not into the trashcan, like he asks, but onto the carpet where your feet, not his, you remind him, step each morning and each night.

It’s what you do in the dark, you tell him.

The lights are all on, he says.

I can bring you a trashcan, he says.

That’s not the point but you let him anyway. You feign laziness. When he leaves, you return to clipping your nails over the carpet until they align perfectly with the edge of your fingertips. When you are done, you look down at the chipped nail polish-adorned toenail clippings—sharp confetti. Spreading them evenly across the carpet before you, your toes run through the razor sharp blades that will disappear when you vacuum on Sundays, only to be replaced by a fresh brood days later—virgins filed in millimeter-sized rows across your toes, steadily progressing towards execution.


by Melissa Darcey

Melissa Darcey is a writer based in San Diego, CA. She has a soft spot for Jane Eyre, coffee, and her orange cat, Milo. Her work has appeared in The Rumpus, Gravel, Extract(s), Litro, Black Heart, Cease, Cows, and elsewhere.

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