Thunderstorms and black nail polish

Camps SignLightning illuminates the black building across the street, revealing the quiet cubicles inside. It is silent, strangely; thunder has yet to join the display. I’ll miss these giant windows, the way lightning interrupts the darkness in my apartment. The glow seems to linger for a moment after each strike, singeing the silence. I’m painting my nails black.

I haven’t painted my nails since my senior Prom, and even then, it was that clear polish with sporadic gold flecks.

Last January I bought black nail polish a few days before I signed up for the LSAT — not that deep, deceptive maroon, but black. Shiny, black nail polish. It sat on my bathroom counter for a few days, demanding the respect a major risk deserves, I guess. As if it were smugly preparing me for the real one: signing up for the test.

With freshly painted nails, I checked the required boxes and registered for the LSAT. Somehow, the nail polish felt riskier. It interrupted every movement, startling me with its shiny starkness.

I always remove my nail polish a few hours later. I tend to pick at, stare it, obsess over it, smudges and all.

In kindergarten, I asked my teacher, Mrs. Hoffmeier, to close the back door to our classroom during a storm. I was certain it would swirl it’s way into K-H, obliterating me and the cereal box castle in which I sought shelter (I had a lot of trust in Lucky Charms, TBH).

I’m 24 now, and I still don’t love storms, but I’m trying to learn.

Twenty minutes later, thunder has finally joined the lightning, disrupting the familiar rhythm of the neighbor above me who bumps the bass every Thursday without fail. Rain pelts my windows with comforting consistency; my nails are almost dry. I give them an extra shake with each bolt.

Unlike leaving my job or announcing my law school decision, small risks are private: staying up past my bedtime to watch a storm, the thing that has scared me for so long; allowing myself to prioritize my own wellbeing over lopsided communication with toxic men; and painting my nails black.

The storm subsides, and my apartment returns to its familiar nighttime pall. My nails are dry, so I crawl into bed. I think I’ll leave the polish on tomorrow.

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