Tag Archives: compulsion

The Greatest War on Earth

the loathsome slivers in all their glory

The war between us and our nails began long ago, even before our ancestors dragged their scaly bodies onto the face of the earth. They are our greatest foe, even when compared with Iran and McDonald’s, trespassing on the only thing we can really claim for our own, our bodies. We beat them back endlessly with crude weapons and still they thrust forth with new strength, feeding off our very meals.

Despicable, loathsome, and repulsive, they are a repository of filth of every kind and deep within them breeds the very scum of the earth. The sight of them can make grown men shriek and children weep. In the right circumstances, they induce nausea, fatigue, and premature labor.

And yet we tolerate them, watching as they creepily grow longer and longer until we can take it no more and destroy them, cutting them from our flesh after we have softened them with a warm shower. But they always return.

The pain of fingernails’ existence drives some to madness, weakening their mind until they bite and nip at their fingers until their very bodies bleed and they taste sweet iron on their tongues. Others try to disguise the nails with lacquered paints and frilly designs, even covering up the painful reality with plastic imitations–anything to hide their true nature.

Industries have grown up around them: their suppression and removal. They are a liability to their keeper, easily becoming a source of indescribable pain. The sounds they make– the clicking and the clacking, the gnawing and munching of their incapacitated victims– fill the air with the crazed din of an insane asylum.

For a time they are windows into the body itself, but grow disgusting all too soon—tainted with the everyday wear of life, collecting beneath them the salt of the earth and the stew of the lunch and the peel of the orange. Our fingernails and toenails are our most dedicated and successful foes. My entire life I’ve been fighting them, cutting them back, even down to the quick, feeling the sharp sting of pain until I cry out and I feel I’ve defeated them at long last. This time they will not grow back.

But they do, and I find myself in the same shameful position only two weeks later, if that. I have even slammed my finger in a car door, unconscious attempting to rid myself of the foul parasites once and for all. After weeks of hiding my mangled finger in a brace, I took it off only to see the nail growing back, ever persistent, its shape leering at me in a grotesque grin. I got on my knees and prayed to all that is holy to take this burden away from me. I only heard faint laughter from the other room, my sister watching Arrested Development.

Will I never be free?

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