“Let’s see them, then,” Simon demanded with a grin as he took up his seat at his desk.
Isla turned to look at him with tears in her eyes.
It was the same old Monday morning ritual, and it was the one thing that made Simon’s Mondays just a little bit more cheerful.
Isla’s talons were her pride and joy. They were long, strong, and completely natural, not a hint of acrylic in sight. She’d had long nails since she was 12, when she vowed to quit gnawing on them for good. For 19 years she had kept her vow, and couldn’t be more proud of herself.
Her fingernails never failed to be adorned with exquisitely detailed artwork and glimmering jewels. She was a whizz with the nail polish and would happily while away hours crafting incredible works of art at the tip of each finger.
Sundays were always nail-painting days. She’d come up with a brand new, unique design every single week, and show them off at the office each Monday morning.
But today, Isla’s fingers were tucked tightly into the palms of her hands.
“What’s wrong?” Simon asked, taking in her pitiful face.
Isla reluctantly stretched out her fingers. The nails were gone. She’d bitten them right down to the quick, and the end of each one was uneven and raggedy. The surrounding skin was pink and swollen, and scabs were forming where teeth had ripped into bare flesh.
Isla would never bite her nails for nothing – that much Simon knew. He could tell her world was falling apart without her having to say a word.
He wrapped her up in tight hug and let her shed some tears on his shoulder. “When you’re ready,” he said quietly, “tell me everything – right from the top.”Follow Ellie Scott on WordPress.com