You would only give me the toenail after I promised that I would not eat it. Plucked from your foot with tweezers, you lost the whole nail. It didn’t come off clean. Removed in painful shards, the nail bed beneath was revealed in such vulnerable pinkness that it felt obscene to look at it. I think that you were drunk when it happened. You were drunk a lot back then. But what you blacked out, my mind holds in painful relief.

       I think maybe I want to talk about something else. 

       Did you know that I almost made a friend today? I came so close! I’m not sure who she was, but her husband was sleeping and we drank coffee like it was a secret. The mug had all the signs of the zodiac on it and it was so hot that I could feel the heat of it almost like alcohol. 

       The mail truck was caught up in a bank of snow, and she came down her long yard in her tall boots. She brought a shovel and something like an enormous spear! I was stunned by how blue her eyes were, how black her hair. She was like a gorgeous bruise. We are not together, you and I, but still I felt guilty for noticing. It wasn’t lust that I felt, it was something softer.

       “Tell me,” my therapist asked. “What is it that you need the most?”

       “Comfort,” I said.

       I’m not sure that we were together for the entirety of time that it took you to grow the toenail back. We’ve had so many togethers and aparts. I keep your nail in a pink pill box shaped like a macaron, sheltered like a saint’s relic in my absurd trinket. 

       I bought that pill box at the Mary Todd Lincoln House, where I sat in her garden crying and texting you because her perpetual mourning was a thing so pure that I had to tell you about it. A thing so pure that it felt like my love for you. 

       Stop. I will stop. We are both healthier for standing back, for pushing apart. I am standing back. I am standing down. I am knocked down and still standing.  

       You will hate this. I might as well apologize now and have done with it. You will hate it and yet I cannot help what I am doing. Do you feel it? The ways that I am split apart like a smashed egg? You were my golden yolk, the prize inside of me, the thick sensuous center. I feel you slipping out, racing past my brittle pieces. What’s left of me for you to come back to anymore? 

       You asked me to protect you.


Sarah Sorensen has been published over forty times in small presses, most recently in 5x5.  She has her M.A. in English from Central Michigan University.  She is the gleeful mother of two cats and a dog.  Find her at  


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