Today's story is a departure from the Holiday theme. It's a reminder that while the Holidays are happening, so is everything else. It's also creepy and fun. The type of story you can really take a bite out of. Thank you to the stupendous Aimee Lucido, the writer of today's short. Thank you, Aimee.
Fear and Loathing in the Left Lateral Incisor
By Aimee Lucido
A molar tastes like romance.
Did you know that?
Of course you didn’t. You wouldn’t. In your mouth it gets all muddied up. Mixed together with the loneliness of a canine, the fear of a incisor.
Your mouth is a Big Mac of emotions. Too many flavors, confused and scrambled, and you’re left unable to feel anything at all.
But ooh! Nothing compares to the pure romance of a molar. You pop one of those babies and you can lie on your back for hours feeling nothing but first kisses and the gentle whisper of a lover’s fingers.
That’s some good shit.
I’ll show you what I mean. See that man up there? Gray hair, neatly parted, wedding band glinting like a bedroom candle in the moonlight? Tom’s his name, Tom Waddle, and I happen to know for a fact that his first molar on the lower right hand side packs the sharpest punch around. We’re talking high-school-sweethearts-turned-long-distance-lovers-turned-fifty-years-of-marital-bliss kind of romance.
Oh mamma it’s gonna be good!
It’s a delicate dance, a dental do-si-do, as I step two three, and walk two three, and trip two three, and sorry two three my way through the chaos. Tom Waddle falls two three and before anyone can swing their partner round and round the tooth is dislodged, in my hand, and I’m back on my way two three.
Don’t look at me like that. He’d thank me if he knew what I was doing. It’s been aching him for months, and all I did was push it along.
And now I have the final ingredient. It’s one I’ve been perfecting my whole life, and now, with this molar, I’ve finally done it. I have the incisor from a boxer—someone famous, can’t say his name—and the bicuspid from one of those existential poet types who thinks Nietzsche is a four-letter word.
And now I have Tom Waddle’s romance. Just in time, too, because it’s starting to snow.
I get back to my temporary residence and light a fire in the pit so I can see. I pull my baggies out from behind the PVC pipe and sift through them. Canine, canine, wisdom tooth, aha!
There they are. The incisor and the bicuspid, in their individual homes, marinating in their isolation until I’m as prepared for them as they are for me.
I pull out the molar from Tom Waddle and stare at it for a moment, savoring the anticipation. It looks so small in my hand, so white by comparison, and I lick my lips.
And when I can’t wait any longer I pull out the other two and shuffle the three together like dice in my hand. Fear: the incisor of a boxer. Sorrow: the bicuspid of a poet. And romance: the molar of Tom “White Picket Fence” Waddle.
And then I open my mouth and rest the three lightly on my tongue.
Teeth absorb everything. Adrenaline from a late-night motorcycle race. Blood from a fist to the jaw. Whiskey from a third consecutive afternoon spent at the local pub.
These three teeth have absorbed more than most. Their flavor hits me all at once. Knocks me to my knees. It’s stronger than anything I have ever tried before… and yet something is wrong.
I spit out the teeth and inspect them. No fillings, no chips, no flaws whatsoever. I must be imagining it.
I pop them back in and the flavor hits me once again….
And then there is the wrongness.
I try to enjoy it even so. This is my crowning achievement, my magnum opus. It’s supposed to be perfect!
But I’m sure of it now. It’s not right. Something is missing.
I spit them out.
And then, like serendipity, like the shining face of God pointing me to the Promised Land, I hear a tiny voice.
“Mommy! Daddy! I lost a tooth!”
I stand up so hard I hit my head on a hot water heater.
“Wow! That’s a really big deal! Congratulations, son!”
I stick the three teeth into a baggie, jam it in my pocket, and pop my head out between two beams. I see three backs blocking the view of this new tooth, the child’s tooth, and I know what my concoction is missing.
Canine, molar, bicuspid, doesn’t matter. Children’s teeth taste like joy.
Before the plan is fully formed in my head, I step out onto the street. Careful, careful, don’t alert the Hallmark Family, and step two three, and walk two three, I leap two three from wall to wall. Close enough to hear the child state his wish to keep his tooth, far enough to remain a part of the shadows.
The family disappears into a house like one that Tom Waddle might live in. Colorful lights dapple the edge of the roof, some sort of fragrant plant adorns their front door. My teeth jangle safely in my pocket and I watch as lights turn on and off throughout the house. I follow the shadows. Two big, one little, popping up first here, and then there, until finally the two leave the one in a room on the top floor. The lights are on, and then they are off, and I have the location of a bedroom.
I wait patiently. Oh, so patiently do I wait, until, at last, the house is as dark as the inside of a mouth.
Then I climb. Up two three, and across two three, and quiet two three, and window two three. It slides up, unlocked two three, and I hold my breath as I push myself in.
The tooth sits on the bedside table, tiny tiny and pearly white, as if it’s waiting for me.
I grab it and it’s all so easy and then—
The lights flick on.
“Mommy, Daddy! Come quick! Someone’s in my room!”
A pounding from down the hall.
I have to move fast.
Step two three, step two three, run two three!
I’m out the window and there’s no time to be graceful so I fall two three, but the window remains open.
The tooth is in my hand. I have what I came here for. I should run. No, I need to run. And yet, I find myself waiting behind shrub, watching through the upstairs window.
“It was all a bad dream, sweetie!” says the mother.
“Go back to bed, son,” says the father.
“But… I promise I saw someone! I promise! Look! the window is open… and my tooth… my tooth is gone!”
The father gets up to close the window. How on earth did this thing come open, he must wonder.
His mouth pops open. Fear in his eyes.
“You know,” he says, swallowing deeply. “I think I know who you might have seen.”
“Who?” says the tiny voice.
“The Tooth Fairy.”
He slams the window and locks it behind him.
And so I sit there, under the window, and pour the four teeth into my mouth. Now, now it is perfect.
The father was more correct than he could ever know.
I am something magical. Something Fae. I am an epicure, a connoisseur, a fucking gourmand when it comes to teeth.
So go ahead and hide them, children. Shove them under your pillows with your teddy bears and wishes.
I enjoy the challenge.