Ladies and Gents! the long awaited short story I spoke about a week or two ago, is finally here.
It is titled Whose Tooth Fairy? It features the beloved (but NOT mythical) tooth fairy, except, with a little twist.
no, it is not like this in any way shape or form…
Hope you all enjoy – leave a comment or do whatever you have to to tell the world you liked it!
The hinges creaked as the door opened slowly. She stopped at the sound, then continued. The atmosphere remained as lifeless and still as it had been. With each millimetre the door moved, the more light filtered in. Soon, a soft orange glow flooded the room the way grief consumes a broken heart. A mattress lay in the middle of the room. For something so small it was tall and domineering, taking up most of the floor space. Tiny squares of white hung on the wall, each with different drawings and colours coming alive in the light, despite their extensive exposure to the sun.
The air in the room was chilled, and the hairs on her arm stood up in protest. Brushing along her legs, the way a cat rubs itself against its owner, she could feel the warmth circulating around her as it entered through the door. In the far left corner, pink and purple striped curtains rustled and moved with the elegance and serenity of birds soaring through the sky, gently touching the wall with a delicate mother’s touch. The noise of the outside world seemed vacant and far-off.
It was just her and her daughter.
She stepped into the room. Her feet moulded to the contours of the floorboards. None of them sounded as she glided across the floor. There were no obstacles for her to avoid, for the carpet was empty, save for a few stains of red she remembered well from summer months past.
As she crept, she paused a moment by a large chest of drawers. She ran her fingers along the top, creating two intertwining rivers of cleanliness locked in battle amongst the desert of dust that lay atop it.
She looked at her reflection in the mirror. The artificial light from the hallway accentuated her tight-fitting white top. Behind her, she saw a movement. The body that lay in the bed stirred slightly, the steady rise and fall of their chest suggesting it was nothing more than an uncomfortable itch, or slight ache in the shoulder.
She stared back at herself, then down at the drawer’s surface. A teddy bear, wearing a hair of grey-brown looked into the ceiling. Its fur had lost all signs of life and love; the reflection of light in its eyes confessed a sadness and desire for attention. The name RUPERT was stitched into its stomach. Some of the letters had come loose after years of childish play, leaving few left to be torn out. She placed Rupert back on the wardrobe, this time facing him towards the bed. He was the protector of the room and would make all its inhabitants safe.
Swivelling on the balls of her feet, a warmth enveloped her and hugged her tightly. She started towards the bed for the third time that day, avoiding the princess that dangled from the roof of the playhouse on the floor. The colour of the roof was no longer the vibrant pink and cream it had once been; instead, it was more a unison of beige, with the occasional stroke of skin throughout.
Then, she moved forward three paces and came to a small wicker chair. Her body eased into the already moulded grooves. In its old age, it was as silent as death at accepting her weight.
She stared at the figure underneath the sheets and smiled. Warmth continued to flow through her; she felt it surge with the tyranny and force of a pack of ravenous wolves in the wild.
There it was, resting next to the mahogany lamp she had bought two years ago, a tooth, stained with the colour of blood and decay.
She reached into her pocket, produced a coin that had been reserved for this particular moment, and placed it on the table.
It was then that she saw it. It was then that she gasped as the figure beneath the sheets moved and grimaced at her. It was then that she felt the cold touch of the gun barrel against her forehead.
An unprecedented fear – a fear that only arose with the certainty and acceptance of imminent death – rooted her to the spot. Her skin went as cold as death’s sweet touch; the warmth and goose bumps dissipated before her heart had a chance to reach its next beat. As much as she tried, as much as she wanted to run away and never look back, she couldn’t. It was as though her arms and legs had been tied to the ground by an invisible and impenetrable force.
‘At last,’ the figure said in a child’s excitable whisper. Its owners’ face was barely visible in the low light, save for the hint of yellow in the skin and shaded patches where hair had attempted to grow. At the utterance of their first word, a putrid and inexplicable smell rose through her nostrils, and she contorted her face in response.
‘What have you done with my little girl?’ She asked, finally finding the courage to do so. Her eyes were unable to break free from the man’s deadly and threatening gaze.
‘She’s gone,’ the man said. He pulled the sheets revealing some more of his face and more of that horrible smell.
‘What do you mean, “gone”?’ She asked. Her back was beginning to hurt in the hunched over position. The temperature of her skin had now warmed the barrel of the gun and her palms became moist.
‘She is gone, I’m afraid nothing will bring her back,’ the man replied. His voice became clearer and deeper.
‘I cannot tell you.’
‘What are you doing in my house?’ She asked. She brought her voice down to a whisper, too afraid to raise it any further. The background noise of the television in another room filtered in and distracted her. ‘You shouldn’t be here.’
‘No!’ The man said pressing the gun deeper into her skull, ‘it is you that should not be here, in my house.’
‘You are mistaken, we moved in ten years ago. We have lived here ever since,’ she said.
‘How did you get in, and what have you done with my daughter?’
‘I have always been here. Waiting and waiting, waiting for you to arrive.’
‘You owe me. After all of these years of waiting, I have finally found you. And now I have come to take back what is mine,’ he said baring his teeth. A hole in the top of his mouth stood prominently in his grin.
‘You are mistaken. I owe you nothing,’ she said. The pain in her back worsened and she crouched down to her knees. The carpet creased under her bodyweight.
‘You are more stupid than I thought. Do you not remember? That time you never picked up my tooth?’ He asked, lowering the gun back down to her forehead. They were at eye level. The weight of the weapon grew as the burdening weight of his revenge increased.
She said nothing. Her expression displayed the absence of acknowledgement.
‘I was nine. In this very house. My tooth had fallen out when I was playing on the swing outside after I hit my mouth on the ground. It was my final little boy tooth, and now I had only my big boy teeth left. I ran to mummy and daddy. They told me the tooth fairy would come and collect it – that you’d come and collect it – but I already knew this. You’d already done it so many more times before. So I did what I usually did and left it next to my head on the table, and waited,’ he paused, licked his lips and continued. ‘I didn’t sleep that night. I never really did when I knew you were coming. I always pretended. You always walked in while I had my eyes open but you didn’t know it, and mummy and daddy always said that you wouldn’t come if I wasn’t a good boy and stayed awake. But you did, and not once did you realise. But this time was different. You never came. And that night I waited and waited. But still, you never came,’ he paused again, this time his hands shook as he felt the potent combination of adrenaline and anger course through him faster than his blood, ‘the day after I told mummy and daddy. “Oh, she must have been extra busy that night, maybe she’ll come tonight,” my mummy said. You remind me of her a lot, my mummy. But you didn’t turn up that night either, nor the night after that, nor the night after that. And that was the last tooth I ever lost.
‘Until now. Until right now. Until this one here. And I have never forgiven you for forgetting. How could you do it? I adored you. I loved you. I admired you. Drawings I made of you hung on my wall, and this is how you repay me? Well, now, it is time for revenge.’
He picked up the tooth, his hands swallowing it whole, and extended his arm to her. Tiny interlocking rivers of dirt ran through the grooves of his skin and collected in his nail beds.
She glanced down at the tooth.
‘I am not the tooth fairy. This is not your house. What did you do with my little girl?’
‘Have you ever heard of Russian roulette?’ He asked.
Her pupils dilated and her steady stream of exhalation stopped brushing against his skin.
‘Yes,’ she said. Suddenly, her eyes darted toward the dominant source of light and salvation.
‘There is only one bullet in this gun. It is in the first chamber. If you run, I shoot, you die. My mummy and daddy always told me to never gamble. Does this count?’
‘Yes. They would be very disappointed in you.’
‘No they wouldn’t. They’d want me to get my revenge. Mummy and daddy always told me to get my revenge.’
‘This is not revenge. This is psychotic.’
‘I’m not crazy!’ He shouted, his voice becoming high pitched and hoarse. ‘Mummy and daddy got me tested when I was younger!’ he said, and cocked the gun, ‘Enough, you are stalling for time. You have no other choice but to play the game with me.’
‘What are the rules?’
‘Spin. Cock. Point. Pull. Simple as that. We only get one go each. If you live then I will wait until the next time a tooth breaks free from my gums to see how well your luck serves you. That does, of course, depend on how long it takes the guilt to consume you.’
‘What guilt?’ She asked.
‘Do you accept?’
‘Do you accept?’
‘What if I refuse?’
‘Then bye-bye, tooth fairy.’
She paused a moment. He could see a sheen of light reflect off her forehead. In that moment she looked old. Old with the age of stress and a heavy burden that had lain over her shoulders for some years.
‘Okay,’ she said, swallowing hard. ‘I accept.’
He smiled and said, ‘ladies first. Mummy and daddy always taught me to be a gentleman.’
He handed her the weapon. She opened the chamber, span it and flicked it to the side. It was a satisfying click for both sets of ears.
She pushed her hair behind her ears and pointed the gun at her temple. It lay perfectly still rested against her skull.
Then, holding her breath, suspending in a moment of bountiful emotion, she pulled the trigger.