Monday, November 16, 2015

Becky's Teeth

In Becky's house, the Tooth Fairy provided teeth rather than collected them. If you put a quarter under your pillow, she'd take it and leave a tooth in its place. It was the Tooth Demon who took teeth, always very late at night when even the fairies were asleep, and usually when Becky was quite unprepared. The Tooth Demon sometimes didn't wait for a tooth to become dislodged or even loose before collecting it. His appetite for children's teeth was insatiable. Every night Becky put off going to bed as long as possible. But her parents tired of her antics and complaints, and demanded that she retire. Even then, she'd remain awake as long as she could, then would fall asleep lying face-down, hoping the position of her mouth against the pillow would make it too difficult for the Tooth Demon to get at her teeth, and he'd move on to another house in search of easier prey. Or perhaps on to her younger brother's room. But the Tooth Demon had yet to extract any of his teeth. It was only a matter of time, Becky would tell him. Stop scaring your brother, her mother would scold.

When lying face-down proved not a strong enough deterrent, and Becky lost two more teeth, she devised a new strategy. She took several wire coat hangers from the closet and wrapped them tightly, vertically around her head, effectively wiring her jaw shut. This seemed to work, and for several days Becky was able to hold onto her few remaining teeth. But each morning she'd wake with lines in her cheeks where the wire pressed against her skin, and those lines wouldn't go away in time for school. Though she worried these lines marred her appearance, she accepted them as the price for keeping her teeth.

One night, approximately a week after she'd begun wiring her jaw shut, she awoke with a violent start, to find the Tooth Demon seated atop her young body, trying to open her mouth. Becky wanted to scream, but of course was unable to, what with her mouth wired closed. It was just before dawn, and Becky's parents would be awake soon and would check on her. Becky could see just the first hint of light through her bedroom window. But the Tooth Demon saw it too, and in frustration and haste he decided on a different, more extreme tactic.

A few minutes later, Becky's mother came into the room to wake her for school, only to discover Becky's headless corpse on the bed. She quickly gathered her daughter in her arms, in the process knocking the pillow to the floor and revealing three shiny quarters.

(Copyright 2015 by Michael Doherty)

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