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'I was chewing under my fingernails. Not biting them off, just picking under them with my teeth, and I was wondering if I was going to have a mini breakdown.'

I was chewing under my fingernails. Not biting them off, just picking under them with my teeth, and I was wondering if I was going to have a mini breakdown. A mini breakdown is a very intense short-lived existential crisis. It seemed to be a semi-regular event in lockdown which I started to find comfort in. It wasn’t a completely forgiven feeling to have an existential crisis, however the different with these ones were the high frequency, I found them quite debilitating and it was small nuances were setting them off. I thought having one might be nice, just to break up the monotony of a global pandemic and impending doom while being stranded in the vastness of my increasingly smaller home. Will I have to fight people at the shops for food? I think it’s more likely I’ll have to throw hands for toilet paper. I don’t know, maybe.

I went into the kitchen. I started looking through cupboards asking myself, “Why did I come in here? What was it again? The um…the um…aw, yep aw, nail clippers, that’s right nail clippers.”

I knew I wasn’t going to find them in the cupboard with the bowls when I realised what I was looking for. I had no clue to where anything was. I asked my sister, “Hey do you know where the nail clippers are?”

I got no response. She was sitting on the couch in the living room with a hoody and five blankets, chewing the inside of her cheek, watching stupid videos on TikTok, with her earphones in. Mentally not even in the room. She was in her own world.

I asked again and raise my voice slightly like a principal with no authority, “Oi, do you know where the nail clippers are?”

“WHAT?” She said as she snatched one earphone out and screwed up her face. Her attitude frustrated me even though I was the one repeating myself. I asked for a third time, “Have. You. Seen. The. Nail. Clippers?”

She said, “Yeah, they’re in the purse.”

She smirked and her attitude shifted from severely irritated to smartarse. This is because, in my household, it’s common knowledge that the nail clippers live in a little pink purse along with tweezers, a nail file, and several other instruments for maintaining skin health. This gave me no indication to the location of the nail clippers. She had now engaged me in a verbal war.

“Fine. Where did you leave the purse?”

“How do you know I used it last?” She replied.

“Because you’re the one who never puts things back in their place. Me and mum put it on the coffee table and dad doesn’t even use it.”

“Well I don’t know it’s probably in my room!” She shouted.

“WHERE IN YOUR ROOM, THEN? I shouted back.


I was quite frustrated as this point and didn’t have the mental capacity to bring down the energy in the room. This is because I had been in lockdown for a few weeks and had become highly strung. Bringing down my sister’s aggression wasn’t a usual problem before lockdown. I therefore resorted to petty acts of fighting fire with fire. I bared my teeth, put on an angry face that was aimed at my sister, and abruptly pulled the finger.

I went into my sister’s room to look for the purse that contained the nail clippers. The problem with my sister’s room is it’s like a clothes bomb went off. I flicked on the light and took one look at the fabric dump, moved two pieces of clothing, did a couple of 360’s, got disorientated, and promptly left. I went back into the living room and confronted her.

“Oi” I said.

There was no response because she had crawled back into her own little world. I walked up to her and pulled out one of her earphones and yelled, “WHERE ARE THE NAIL CLIPPERS?”






I had lost the verbal war with my sister. After knowing me her whole life, she has learnt things about me which she can weaponise. I didn’t even reply to her this time. Instead, I queued the mini breakdown. Yep there it was. I stormed out of the living room into my room and tried to slam the door behind me, which didn’t work because of the anti-slam hinges. This deepened my anger and added to my existential crisis. I laid face down on the floor and felt comfortably horrible. Then I heard my sister say something and laugh, “I found the purse it was under me this whole time.”

If there was ever a time I could leave my body it would be now. There is no cure for this jaded frustration, other than to get over it. Escape from lockdown was futile and laying in my weird, sad existential puddle was the only option. Squirming in my house prison was starting to feel like an eternity, however there wasn’t really a sense of time anymore. I want to go see my friend, but I don’t. I want to go to work, but I don’t. I want go to the gym, but I don’t. As if it were a child with plastic scissors, COVID hacked away at what stable metal health I was holding onto.

I didn’t want to die, I didn’t want to leave, I just didn’t want to exist.

Tyrown Waigana is a Wandandi Noongar (Aboriginal) and Ait Koedhal (Torres Strait Islander) multidisciplinary artist and graphic designer. His practice includes painting, illustration, sculpture and graphic design. He is starting to share stories to supplement his creative practice. Tyrown hopes to create comedies inspired by everyday life. He thinks pretty much anything has the potential to be funny.

Copyright © 2020 Tyrown Waigana.

This story has been licensed to the Centre for Stories by the Storyteller. For reproduction and distribution of this story/image please contact the Centre for Stories.

This story was published on 23 October 2020.

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