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Nail Polish: A Personal History (by Claire Pike)

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Stoneybrook High School
Third period English
Extra credit assignment – creative writing


This semester, we have been exploring the techniques authors use to convey a character’s personal development and increasing maturity.

Part 1: Submit three autobiographical vignettes that demonstrate your own growth from a child to a young adult.

Utilize literary techniques discussed in class. E.g.:
-narrative perspective (e.g. first, second or third person)
-style (e.g. imagery, hyperbole, simile, metaphor, onomatopoeia)
-theme (e.g. recurring motifs, symbolism)

(Note: the above list is not exhaustive.)

Part 2: Submit a half-page reflection on the techniques you have employed, and your thoughts on their effectiveness.




Nail Polish: A Personal History
By Claire Pike




When I was six, I made a snap decision about my future career. I was going to be Claire Pike: Make-Up Artist. It was my destiny. I was totally ready, and eager to get started.

Unfortunately, this stroke of genius came during math. At the time, I was supposed to be finishing an addition worksheet. (The plastic counters on my desk were what inspired me. They were just so pretty, scattered like a pile of Disney gemstones.) Coloring my nails with magic markers just seemed like a better use of my time.

I had to finish the worksheet at lunch.




When I was ten, Margo and I stole a bottle of nail polish from our sister’s bureau. It was bright pink, with silver sparkles. I was endlessly fascinated by it, because it reminded me of frosting. (Until we took off its lid. Nail polish smell is the exact opposite of strawberry frosting. Blech.)

Our brother had crashed on the couch, and we thought it’d be funny to give him a sneaky pedicure. It was hilarious; when Adam woke up, he chased us all the way to Elm Street.

(I bet you thought we stole it to use on ourselves. Psych!)




When I was thirteen, I dramatically overthought what color nail polish to wear to Middle School Graduation: a childish pastel, or something dark and mysterious.

My parents get a little sad at my milestones. I’m the youngest of eight, so everything I do is a Last Time. I believe that clothes and make-up are a statement about who you are, and I couldn’t decide what kind of daughter to be that day:

Baby blue: It’s okay, guys. Don’t panic. Little Claire still exists.
Dark purple: I’m not a kid anymore, and you should just deal.

I ended up wearing none.