Once upon a time, there was a young man named Johnny who liked to chew his nails. It started as a nervous habit–he would chew on them when he was looking at a tough math question in class, or when he broke a vase and wondered what his mom and dad would say about it.
But as he grew older, he became self-conscious about his jagged nails. Some were short (his favourites, like his thumb and middle finger), some were long (like his pinkies), and people were starting to notice, including Meredith, the girl he fancied. But he’d grown so used to nibbling on the nails that he didn’t want to give it up, and besides didn’t think he could. So he took to evening the lengths out, which meant spending extra time chewing down his longer nails, and trying to bite around the edges to form a perfect roundness.
The corners of his nails were often attached to little chunks of skin, and he reveled in peeling those chunks away and chewing on them. He’d rip away little triangular strips of flesh and squish them between his front teeth while reading or listening to his teacher. When his fingers were red and shiny and raw with stripped layers of skin, he chewed the uneven skin off his lips. He’d secretly and ashamedly eat his hand-peeled scabs after a cut, too, which should have cued him into how far he was going. But he didn’t stop.
He liked to watch Meredith’s lithe fingers, her long nails, the even white skintone. They were like delicious little treats, and every night he dreamed of nibbling on them.
Not just nibbling, maybe.
He spent so much time sampling his own flesh, he was growing hungry for variety. The thought that he might someday lose control made him nervous to be around other people, and his nervousness made him chew at himself all the more. He was no longer able to hide it–he had patches torn from his skin with teeth, and when his mother found the bite marks they had to put down the family dog.
Johnny had no choice but to stop eating at himself or he wouldn’t be able to keep his secret any longer. He ceased all such behaviour, but he was so used to the act that his stomach would rumble in unbearable hunger pangs.
It wasn’t the healing skin or his self-confidence that made him ask Meredith out. It was his hunger. She had loose flesh, slivers of white, down her lips. They were chapped in the winter. He wanted to put his mouth on hers, but she was a good girl.
It was nearly Christmas. He invited her for dinner while his parents were visiting relatives far away. He couldn’t go because he had exams. He purchased some mistletoe, and hung it where he knew she would stand, where she always stood when she came over. He would have his first kiss. And he’d rid her of that extra skin.
Day 283’s three random writing prompt categories were, “The living and the dead,” “Chewing your nails,” and, “A fairy tale.”
The moral of the story is that chewing your nails turns you into a zombie. Apparently. Man, I really need to cool it with the cannibalism stories…