By: Jean Boonstra
“Dad! Dad!” Umi cried, running into the house. “Dad?!”
“Umi,” Olivia answered. “Your dad is working at the hospital. Are you ok?”
Umi turned away from Olivia and shoved her hands deep into her pockets. “Ugh, Hugo!” she sighed.
“It sounds like you’re frustrated,” Olivia answered. “Come on into the kitchen and tell me about it.
Umi slumped onto the stool at the kitchen counter. She kept her hands in her pockets.
“You’re late coming home from school,” Olivia said looking at her watch. “I got home almost an hour ago.”
“Yeah,” Umi answered, swiveling the kitchen stool. “Hugo had a brain wave.”
“A brain wave? Tell me more.”
“Well, you know how I’ve been trying to stop biting my nails?” Umi asked.
“Yes,” Olivia answered. “Your dad and I’ve given you lots of tips. Anything helping?”
“Not really,” Umi mumbled. “But Hugo told me that he had the perfect solution.”
“Oh dear,” Olivia said sitting down on the stool beside her.
“He said that he had a special paint that makes your nails taste terrible. So that way I wouldn’t be tempted to bite them because they would taste yucky,” Umi explained.
“Nail-biting polish,” Olivia nodded. “Your dad told you about that.”
“Yeah, well, Hugo said the stuff he had was the best!” Umi said.
“Umi,” Olivia asked, concern rising in her voice. “Why are your hands in your pockets?”
“Oh, Olivia,” Umi sobbed. “Hugo ruined my hands.”
“Well, it can’t be that bad,” Olivia soothed. “Show them to me.”
Slowly Umi pulled her hands out of her pockets. Olivia gasped at the sight. Umi’s nails and most of her fingertips were covered in something thick and black.
“Well, it isn’t too bad,” Olivia mumbled bravely.
“It’s a disaster!” Umi cried.
“Is it paint?” Olivia asked.
“I don’t know,” Umi wailed. “I washed my hands over and over, but it won’t come off!”
“Let’s try something. I’ll be right back,” Olivia said.
Umi stared at her black fingernails and fingertips. Will they ever be normal again? she wondered.
Olivia walked back in with a slender bottle and a handful of cotton balls. “Let’s see if this works,” she said, dabbing clear liquid from the bottle and onto a cotton ball.
“Will this hurt?” Umi sniffled.
“No, not at all,” Olivia answered, taking Umi’s hand in hers. Gently she rubbed the cotton ball on her index fingernail.
“It’s coming off!” Umi squealed. “Olivia you’re a genius!”
“I don’t know about that,” Olivia answered with a smile. “I’ve just had a bad manicure or two.”
“Manicure?” Umi asked. “So this is just regular nail polish?”
“Appears so,” Olivia answered. “Your hands will be as good as new in no time.”
“I can’t believe it,” Umi grinned. “Forgiveness in a bottle!”
“Forgiveness? I guess so. This nail polish remover will fix Hugo’s work anyway.” Olivia smiled as she tossed the first cotton ball and reached for a fresh one. “But, Umi, real forgiveness happens in our hearts.”
“I know,” Umi said quietly. “I’m going to have to forgive Hugo for this, aren’t I?”
“Well, that sounds like a conversation you and God should have,” Olivia said.
“Yeah,” Umi agreed. “And I’ll talk to Hugo, too!”
“Forgiveness in a bottle,” Olivia said with a wink. “We might need a few more bottles with Hugo in Discovery Mountain.
“Yes, indeedy,” Umi laughed.