PREPARATION - chad simpson


chad simpson

Erika told me her boyfriend had scratched her insides with his fingernail.

"My God it hurt," she said, smiling, putting her perfect white hands on my arm and clutching it.

I was the only sixth-grade boy sitting with an eighth-grade girl on the entire bus, and though I wanted to look at her stretch pants, I tried to play it cool. I focused on her hands, digging into my arm, and then her eyes. They were as round and as excited-looking as any eyes I’d ever seen.

A few days later I was spending the night with her brother, and Erika and I were hiding in the front seat of their mom’s station wagon, parked in the driveway. There was a clipped thumbnail of a moon visible through the windshield, and then it was gone: Erika had her tongue in my mouth; she was rubbing one of her perfect white hands over the left front pocket of my jeans.

I’d spent two hours that afternoon with a pair of clippers, rounding out each nail’s edge.

I’d even used my mom’s file, sitting on a bean bag chair, watching cartoons, nail dust collecting on my lap.

Chad Simpson lives and works in Galesburg, Illinois. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in several magazines, including McSweeney's, Barrelhouse, New South, The Rambler, and The Sun.