Her fingernails were a prized asset of her hands.
They added the elegance she often lacked, but required maintenance she loathed.
The teenager retrieved her clippers and file.
“To manicure, or not to manicure?” She chuckled and turned on the flat screen TV. An hour went by. She still hadn’t touched her nails. She glanced at them, shrugged, and leaned back on her sofa.
She felt an itch in her nose and rubbed it. It didn’t go away.
She stuck her finger inside her nostril and dug around.
“OW!” She yanked her finger out, the tip was bright red.
“Seriously, right now?” She looked at the screen for a few seconds, then for something to plug up her nose until the next commercial break. She found a paper towel. Cramming and twisting it in, she believed the nose bleed would cease. At commercial, she forgot to check her state of affairs. Before she knew it, the show was back on. She felt a warmness on her upper lip. She removed the piece of paper towel and a mini river flowed down.
“Holy SHIT!” She ran to the bathroom and stood in front of the mirror with tissues. She dabbed and packed one into her nasal cavity. Hoping, even praying, it would stop. She pinched near the bridge of her nose and waited. She eased the tissue out, approached the mirror, and peered in. Some blood had dried around the opening, and further back seemed to be coagulating. She gave a sigh of relief, and proceeded to use a fresh moistened tissue to wipe away the dried blood. She sniffed, an involuntary reflex, and felt warmness inside her nose again.
“Oh for Pete’s sake!” It was slow coming out, but still it came. She tried the method all over again. Then looked at the waste basket to see how much blood she’d lost. She counted seven tissues plus the paper towel.
“Next time, I’ll just cut my freaking fingernails.”
Black Balloon Publishing tweeted asking if one was seeking haunting writers to read this fall, so, I was curious as to whom they suggested and followed the link. They recommended South American writer, Horacio Quiroga. The article did a nice job of introducing readers to this talented, but not well-known, author, his influences and tragic ridden back story.
As it turns out, I have actually read a collection of his short stories. One that included both “The Feather Pillow” and “The Decapitated Chicken.” Thanks to an English professor who was keen on introducing students to Latin American writers, we were required to read and discuss “The Decapitated Chicken.” A haunting tale, and to this day one of my Quiroga favorites. I was fortunate enough to find a collection of Quiroga’s stories, months later, at a second-hand book store and seized the opportunity to read more of his writing. My collection included paired illustrations, but none as remarkable as the Rene Magritte pairing, as mentioned in the article. I often wonder what it would be like to read his works in Spanish. What sort of key elements to his method of story telling lose some of its punch, if any, in translation? Since I understand some words in other languages mean very specific things, which may have no real English counterpart. Perhaps someday I will, but realize the chances are slim, as my Spanish comprehension is nowhere near the level of my French.
I don’t usually think about reading more horror and chilling tales around the Halloween season, I watch films instead. However, I think this year I will change things up and read at least a handful of short stories, and revisit one or two of Quiroga’s. Suffice to say, I agree with Black Balloon Pub’s suggestion and would encourage anyone that wants something a little different, a little chilling and a good story to give Quiroga a read during this season and any others.
Looking at my shelf of books read, if I were to choose one to read again, it would be Miranda July‘s No One Belongs Here More Than You. I purchased the book on a whim two years behind its release, after recognizing the name from Me and You and Everyone We Know. I wasn’t sure what to expect from her writing, but once I started reading, I was smitten. Many criticisms accuse her of trying too hard to be “quirky” or “kooky.” I view her methods as far from traditional or typical, a characteristic that drew me to her. I didn’t have the impression she was going out of her way or otherwise “trying too hard.” Her style felt natural, open, honest. Aspects of her characters or the situations she placed them in resonated with various parts of me. Thoughts her characters expressed, would make people feel vulnerable for having them or ashamed to admit. I appreciate that she encourages us to examine ourselves and the relationships we have or wish to have. My reading of these stories coincided with a puzzling transitional period in my life. The timing might have made me more receptive to the content, but I doubt it affected the experience by much. It would be interesting to see how I feel about No One Belongs Here More Than You now. I haven’t followed her work as closely as I would like, so perhaps revisiting will put me back on track to exploring more.