Short Story: Pink Toenails

The other day, I was taking a shower when I was startled to discover pink toenails. A flamingo pink that stood in sharp contrast with the dull marble that made up my bathroom floor. I was even more surprised when I saw that they were attached to a pair of brown feet that alarmingly seemed to my own.  

“When did I do that” And then somewhere out of the fog, a hazy memory of a pedicure that was forced upon me by my mother. “Who chose this colour? Was it me? That’s not possible, is it? I mean I would have never picked something so… so…” Words failed me. 

The colour was bright and girly and so goddamn joyful. A colour that belonged on Instagram reels under shiny ring lights and filtered reality. Not me I decided. 

I mentally added it to the list I had recently started building. Me or not me. My therapist had been urging me to understand and discover who I was. She’d repeat again and again, “Who is Vanya?” Every time she said my name so loud and clear, I felt my body clench, worried that somebody else would hear her and notice that I existed. Even the thought of that made the skin under my arms prickle with sweat. Another unwelcome reminder of my humanness. 

That night I wrote in my journal. 

Not me: Familiarity with bodily functions (Note to self: Do not have children)

Me: Using TV shows as an anthropological study into the social behaviours of human beings. 

Also Me: Pretentious as fuck. 

Since then, it had become something I did whenever I found the time. Which is not to say I didn’t have time. I had time in abundance, but somehow, I was always losing it. Time disappeared into the invisible cracks of the day. Morning when I woke up and night when I got out of bed type of thing. Whatever happened in between remained hidden in the thick foggy bits of my mind that sometimes made itself  known. Other time it floated above my head, just out of my reach. 

Well, that’s what my mediation podcast says I should do with my thoughts. Observe them as they float. “Let them come and go” the self-actualized man gingerly whispers in my ears every night. “Let it flow, like bits and pieces of garbage in the ocean.” 

Instead, my thoughts enter me and never leave. They are trapped in there like laser beams bouncing of every organ, artery and vein,  every cell, eviscerating whatever they find in their way. That’s how I live, with permanent heart burn.  

The best I can do is ignore it and hope it fades just a little. I leave my reality and tune into another, one that emanates from the hypnotic lights of my screen. A pre-recorded laugh track plays. Some people think it’s creepy, but I like it. I like being relieved of the obligation to laugh. I like that the actors have someone laughing at their jokes and I don’t have to be responsible for their disappointment. That way I can just be there. Effortlessly floating. Like a tiny piece of garbage in the endless boundless ocean. 

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