Steffie the spy kicked off my first Story A Day May marathon, and she seems to have gathered a few fans. So I can’t let May go by without a few Steffie stories. Now that I’m into nail art, what could be more natural than that Steffie should go undercover as a nail tech?
If you need a boost to your writing, visit Story A Day any time of the year.
If you need nail art supplies, Maniology is my primary go-to.
Steffie Paints It On
Steffie looked up from the break-room table as the girl peering out through the curtain groaned.
“Bad customer?” Steffie asked.
“The worst! This is the one I was warning you about. And Bri just led her to my station.”
Steffie joined the girl, and suppressed a smile.
“I’ll do her for you,” she said.
“Oh, Shelly, would you? I owe you one. That bitch is toxic.”
“Honey,” Steffie, currently known as Shelly, said, “I wrote the book on toxic bitches.”
She went to her locker first and switched out one set of special supplies for another, snapped on her nitrile gloves, and hurried out, a transparently fake smile pasted on her face. Bri gave her a challenging look, and she responded with the set of gestures that meant I’m not poaching a customer; we agreed.
“Sorry to keep you waiting,” she said, seating herself across the narrow counter from a hatchet-faced woman. “What do we want today?”
“I’m tired of this shape, so make them oval — not almond, oval. And a plain dusty rose polish. Plain polish, not gel.”
“I have time. And don’t go off and leave me while the polish dries.”
“Ma’am, I need to tend to other custo–“
“I said don’t go off and leave me!” The woman’s voice began to rise.
Bri’s head snapped around, and Steffie patted the air in front of her customer and said, “All right. That’s fine. You’re my only customer for as long as it takes.”
The woman smirked. “That’s better.”
Steffie filed the woman’s nails, fielding increasingly invasive questions about her fellow employees and even about Bri and the nail salon’s owner. Steffie answered as vaguely as she could without seeming cagey.
When the nails were shaped, smoothed, and throughly cleaned, Steffie pulled a small vial from her apron pocket and squirted the liquid on the woman’s cuticles.
“Now go wash that off in the basin in the corner,” she said.
“I know how cuticle remover works,” the woman snapped. “This isn’t the first time I’ve had my nails done.”
No, Steffie thought, but it’ll be the last.
It was too bad, really. Nail tech was possibly the cover she had liked most. Nobody noticed employee turnover. People from all countries in the world could work there or come in as customers, product reps, or technique coaches. Nothing was easier than slipping microchips into dots of polish, nail jewelry, or holographic flakes.
Or, as in the present case, nothing was easier than having an enemy agent hold out her hand while you put topical, delayed-reaction poison on her cuticles.
Here are my nails this week. Yes, they’re messy, because I am neither an artist nor sufficiently eagle-eyed to clean up all the stray polish. Hire a lawyer and sue me.
A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Why paint fingernails?