16 min

Tooth, Teeth, Tongue The Dark Magazine

    • Books

TOOTH

“Isn’t this exciting!” said my mother as she plucked my tooth from the flesh of minced pork encased within the half-bitten fish ball.

Nestled in the center of my mother’s palm was the small canine. Blood from my gums found a home in the creases and lines of her hand, overfilling them before dripping down the side of her palm onto the dining table, as she stuck a finger into my mouth, checking for the gap. Plop, plop, plop. The sound seemed to echo through the room, mixing in with the hissing steam of the pressure cooker on the stove. Bubbles prodded then pounded against the lid of the pop before foaming down the cooker’s metal body, sizzling as it hit the flames below.

I flinched when my mother found the gap, a sharp pain shooting up the root.

I was only six, and though my mother was excited for this moment, it horrified me. My breaths quicken, becoming shallow before morphing into hyperventilation and uncontrollable hiccups. Blood continued to pool in my mouth, escaping from the corner of my lips as my mother hurried to dab at it with a tissue. She was smiling, but her hands shook.

My index finger hovered above the tooth still sitting in her other hand. I wanted to prod it, but I wasn’t able to find the courage to do so. It looked too white, too unnatural. My tongue caressed the hole the tooth left in my mouth. The taste of metal and soup mingled.

“Am I going to die?” I asked, transfixed on this small stained porcelain object that once kept me whole. It was only a small part of me, but I felt the growing weight of its missing presence the longer I stared.

My mother laughed at my petrified face. Blood, saliva, and soup wouldn’t stop dribbling from my mouth still agape. She reached forward and lifted my chin. My tongue was still fixated on the gap my tooth left, rubbing the open wound more raw than it already was. Plop, plop, plop.

“No, you’re not going to die,” Mother said. A mischievous expression overtook her features. “But you’ll get a very special visitor tonight . . . ”

She had paused for emphasis, suspense, then leaned back in her chair with a glint in her dark eyes hooded by thick lashes, loose veined purple skin dotted with red sagged underneath. I found myself leaning towards her the farther she withdrew, until her chair tilted at a delicate balance between being perfectly suspended in the air—as though time had paused—and crashing with a tragic jolt onto the ceramic tiles, shaking each bone within her body.

“The Tooth Fairy!” Mother shouted, suddenly snapping upright in her chair, almost headbutting me. There was a strange, fervent expression stretched across her face. Her wide smile and crooked teeth looked sinister rather than carrying its usual warmth and tenderness.

I offered a blank stare but cowered in my seat, shrinking away from my mother’s towering figure looming over me. My mother held up my tooth in triumph before she lowered it back down. She pried open my hands which had balled up in fists from the fright and placed the tooth in my palm.

Mother told me the Tooth Fairy was like Santa Claus, but instead of offering gifts, the Tooth Fairy traded shiny gold coins for fallen teeth.

“You want shiny gold coins, don’t you?” Mother whispered in my ear. She sat back down, sipped the soup in silence before speaking again—this time more to herself than to me: “Don’t you?” She stared hard at the soup with its oil collecting on top. We’d been sitting at the dinner table for far too long. Every dish had cooled. No longer did appetizing steam drift into the air.

In my mind, the Tooth Fairy looked like the fairy godmother from Cinderella with the ability to grant beautiful wishes. At least that was what the fairies in movies and shows and books looked like.

“I will still be able to speak, right?”

My mother’s laugh was a gurgling choke, as though someone clawed at her throat, holding the airpipe closed.

TOOTH

“Isn’t this exciting!” said my mother as she plucked my tooth from the flesh of minced pork encased within the half-bitten fish ball.

Nestled in the center of my mother’s palm was the small canine. Blood from my gums found a home in the creases and lines of her hand, overfilling them before dripping down the side of her palm onto the dining table, as she stuck a finger into my mouth, checking for the gap. Plop, plop, plop. The sound seemed to echo through the room, mixing in with the hissing steam of the pressure cooker on the stove. Bubbles prodded then pounded against the lid of the pop before foaming down the cooker’s metal body, sizzling as it hit the flames below.

I flinched when my mother found the gap, a sharp pain shooting up the root.

I was only six, and though my mother was excited for this moment, it horrified me. My breaths quicken, becoming shallow before morphing into hyperventilation and uncontrollable hiccups. Blood continued to pool in my mouth, escaping from the corner of my lips as my mother hurried to dab at it with a tissue. She was smiling, but her hands shook.

My index finger hovered above the tooth still sitting in her other hand. I wanted to prod it, but I wasn’t able to find the courage to do so. It looked too white, too unnatural. My tongue caressed the hole the tooth left in my mouth. The taste of metal and soup mingled.

“Am I going to die?” I asked, transfixed on this small stained porcelain object that once kept me whole. It was only a small part of me, but I felt the growing weight of its missing presence the longer I stared.

My mother laughed at my petrified face. Blood, saliva, and soup wouldn’t stop dribbling from my mouth still agape. She reached forward and lifted my chin. My tongue was still fixated on the gap my tooth left, rubbing the open wound more raw than it already was. Plop, plop, plop.

“No, you’re not going to die,” Mother said. A mischievous expression overtook her features. “But you’ll get a very special visitor tonight . . . ”

She had paused for emphasis, suspense, then leaned back in her chair with a glint in her dark eyes hooded by thick lashes, loose veined purple skin dotted with red sagged underneath. I found myself leaning towards her the farther she withdrew, until her chair tilted at a delicate balance between being perfectly suspended in the air—as though time had paused—and crashing with a tragic jolt onto the ceramic tiles, shaking each bone within her body.

“The Tooth Fairy!” Mother shouted, suddenly snapping upright in her chair, almost headbutting me. There was a strange, fervent expression stretched across her face. Her wide smile and crooked teeth looked sinister rather than carrying its usual warmth and tenderness.

I offered a blank stare but cowered in my seat, shrinking away from my mother’s towering figure looming over me. My mother held up my tooth in triumph before she lowered it back down. She pried open my hands which had balled up in fists from the fright and placed the tooth in my palm.

Mother told me the Tooth Fairy was like Santa Claus, but instead of offering gifts, the Tooth Fairy traded shiny gold coins for fallen teeth.

“You want shiny gold coins, don’t you?” Mother whispered in my ear. She sat back down, sipped the soup in silence before speaking again—this time more to herself than to me: “Don’t you?” She stared hard at the soup with its oil collecting on top. We’d been sitting at the dinner table for far too long. Every dish had cooled. No longer did appetizing steam drift into the air.

In my mind, the Tooth Fairy looked like the fairy godmother from Cinderella with the ability to grant beautiful wishes. At least that was what the fairies in movies and shows and books looked like.

“I will still be able to speak, right?”

My mother’s laugh was a gurgling choke, as though someone clawed at her throat, holding the airpipe closed.

16 min