“Maintenance” by Matthew Dexter

Image by Winston A-H

Rented one of those little one-bedroom apartments that make you wonder whether your luck will ever change. You know the type. Wake up the first morning and you’re lying in bed, running your fingernails across the wall. You do this every morning, thinking about what went wrong and whether your ex-boyfriend really loves you as much as he says he does. He calls four times a day, leaves messages on your voicemail every night. He wants to know where you live. You’re afraid to answer your cell.

Weeks go by before you realize those bumps in the wall are dried-up boogers. They’re yellow, green and black. They must have been there for months, maybe years, left over by the last tenant. Boys can be disgusting. You think of your brother eating his boogers. Every time you blow your nose you think of the wall.

You had to cut your fingernails because you knew some of those boogers were underneath your nails, lodged inside your cuticles. Now your hands look like a boy’s. You call the rental office and ask maintenance to come paint the wall. They do, but even though the boogers disappeared you still know they’re there. You find them in the bathroom, on the wall between the sink and the shower. Even in the kitchen. You start biting your nails. You get used to it and change your phone number.

Years go by. Your luck gets better. You meet a new man. Get married. Have a beautiful family. You keep your queen-size bed centred in the middle of the room. Your fingernails are always manicured perfect. You haven’t touched a wall since.


Matthew Dexter lives and writes in Mexico. He will also probably die in Mexico. This lunatic gringo has been known to eat tacos and drink beer. He belongs in an insane asylum.

Back To Issue #23

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