by Dan Seavers
THEY’D been connected ever since he could remember. And they really had been through a lot together. Whatever the world had thrown at them, they took a bite and chewed it up. They’d been strong through thick and thin. Together through hard and soft. United through steak and apples.
And so he found it particularly galling that he now found himself wrapped in a piece of old tissue, rammed unceremoniously under her pillow.
It had all gone wrong on Saturday. She’d gone out to play football with her friends, and one miskick, a few splashes of blood and a few more tears later, he found himself looking up at Claire’s face. A dark gap stood out in her smile.
“Don’t worry,“ her mother said. “If you place it under your pillow tonight, the Tooth Fairy will swap it for some money.
“I don’t care,” Claire said.
“But with the money you could buy a new doll.”
“I don’t want a new doll. I want a new Super Action Hero Man!!”
Her mum sighed and shook her head.
“Fine, “she said. “You can buy a Super Action doodah man with it if you really want.”
The girl smiled, and ran off to find her tissue. The poor tooth was abandoned.
And so he found himself stifled and muffled under her pillow, listening to her snore gently. He used to like listening to her gentle sniffling sleep. He’d felt reassured she was still there for him, and that tomorrow would be another day. But now, each breath sounded like the sigh of a traitor, whispering tales of defeat into his tiny ears.
His gloom was disturbed by a sudden bright light, shining in from the corner of the cushion, followed by a sharp breeze of cold air.
“There you are,” a deep voice said, as a course skinned hand reached in and grabbed the poor tooth. “Time for you to go.”
Now, the tooth had heard the stories told by the younger dentals. That this day would come. But they always had one lighter note. That the teeth would be taken far away to a land of candy and soda by a beautiful fairy.
What had hold of our tooth now may have been a fairy.
But it certainly wasn’t beautiful. It was barely a cup high. It wore nothing, apart from a small diaper that was barely covered its pot belly. Its skin was pock marked, leathery and stained with cellulite and varicose veins, and covered in a thin layer of greying hair.
Snot dribbled from the thing’s bulbous nose.
“Who are you?” The tooth said.
“I’m Frank,” the thing said with a smile. Miraculously, it actually had a full set of wonderfully bright, white teeth. “I’m a tooth fairy.”
“The Tooth fairy? But I thought you’d be…”
“Don’t say it,” Frank muttered. “You thought I’d be pretty. Well, not all of us can live up to this world’s shallow preconceptions. And anyway, I said, a tooth fairy. Not the Tooth fairy. It’s a job role. Not a name.”
“Yeah, well, whatever. Just jump in my sack and we’ll be getting off. “
The tooth looked over at Claire gently sleeping. There wasn’t any reason for him to stay anymore, but still, he didn’t think he could leave her. Not just yet.
“I’m not going,” he said.
“Listen, Molar. You ain’t got a choice. You hop in the bag; I leave this here fifty pence, and jobs a good ‘un. So come on, get over here, so I can get on.”
“No,” said the tooth, and it buried itself back under the pillows, far from the tooth fairy’s grasp.
The Tooth Fairy scrabbled after him, but the tooth just buried itself deeper and deeper.
“Fine,” the fairy said with a sigh. “Be like that. But I’ll get you tomorrow, that’s for sure.”
And with that, the tooth fairy flew away.
The next morning, the tooth was awoken by Claire rummaging under her pillow, looking for the money the tooth fairy had left behind. But there wasn’t any. Instead, there was her old, cold hard tooth.
She slumped downstairs, and into the kitchen.
“What’s up, dear?” her mum said.
“It’s my tooth. Look.” And she held the old tooth up to her mum. “It was still there this morning and there was no money.”
“Oh. That’s very strange.”
“It’s not fair.”
Her mum knelt down opposite her.
“Look, maybe the Tooth Fairy was too busy last night to make it. I’m sure if you put it under your pillow again tonight, he will come for sure.
“Okay,” Claire said, and she stomped back upstairs, shoving the tooth back under her pillow. She then headed off to school.
And so came another night time awakening for the tooth. He could hear the shouting from his hole deep within the pillow.
“Listen mate,” the Fairy said. “You’ve got to get into my bag tonight. I was down on my quota yesterday because of you. And look, I have a nice shiny pound coin to swap you for this time. That’s a good deal isn’t it?
The tooth lay there and listened to Claire’s gentle breathing.
“No,” he said. “I won’t leave her. Not ever.”
The tooth fairy swore under his breath.
“Fine,” he said. “You stay there. But I’ll be back.”
And so, another disappointing morning came around for Claire. And she huffed over the missing money even more. Her poor mother had no idea what to say.
“Maybe you could leave a letter for the Tooth Fairy,” she said. “Maybe that will help.”
But it didn’t help at all. The tooth fairy ignored the note on the side table, and stomped over to the pillow.
“Listen,” he said. “This is your last warning. I ain’t going to ask nicely again. I’ve become the laughing stock for the rest of the fairies, and it’s properly getting up my nose. So get out here, now.”
The tooth didn’t move.
“Awww, come on,” the fairy pleaded. “I’ve even brought a nice two pound coin to leave behind. Come on out. Please?”
But the tooth didn’t say anything. He just lay there, feeling the warmth of Claire by his side.
“Fine! Be like that. But it’s no more Mr Nice Guy from me.”
The next morning, there weren’t any strops. There were tears.
“It’s not fair,” Claire wailed, as she showed her mum the lone tooth again. “Why won’t the Tooth Fairy visit?”
Her mum shook her head, looking quite sad herself.
“I just don’t know.”
“Why won’t it just go away?” She said. And she threw the poor tooth across the room.
The day didn’t get any better for Claire. She moped her way all through school and all the way home. Her poor mum didn’t know what to do.
But the tooth did.
That night, the tooth fairy found himself stood over Claire’s pillow one last time.
“Look,” he said. “You really have to come with me this time. The boss says it has to be now or never. And it’s really getting embarrassing to keep going through this and…”
“I’ll do it,” the tooth said. Though the voice didn’t come from underneath the pillow this time. It came from the other side of the room. The fairy flew across to him.
“So, you’ve finally accepted that it’s time to go?”
“No,” the tooth said. “I want to stay with her. But…but…I can’t bear to see her like this. It’s time for me to leave.”
The fairy nodded, and sniffled loudly.
“I’ll tell you what,” he said. “I’m not normally allowed to do this. But this time, I can leave something extra special.” And he pulled a large crisp five pound note out of his bag.
“Just let me pop this under her pillow, and we’ll be off.”
“Can I come with? One last time?”
“Very well. But there’s no changing your mind now.”
And he lifted the tooth, and flew across to where Claire slept. He placed the tooth down in front of her, and then ruffled under the pillow.
The tooth looked at the girl and smiled. She snuffled gently in her sleep, and her mouth slid open. Already there was a new tooth growing in the gap he’d left behind.
The little tooth smiled at her.
“I may no longer be a part of you” he said. “But you’ll always be a part of me.”
And with that, the tooth fairy placed him gently into his bag, and together, they flew away.
The next day, Claire was ecstatic. The tooth had finally gone. And she had a full five pounds left behind instead. She could afford the Super Action Hero Man she really wanted.
And the tooth. Well, soon a new tooth came and filled the gap in her mouth. And the old tooth was entirely forgotten. But somewhere, out there, that poor old tooth still remembered Claire. And always would.
©Dan Seavers 2016