♠ONE night, when I was 12, I put one of my baby teeth into a glass of water and went to sleep.
I woke with the door creaking, as the sun rose. I watched my foster mother tip toe across the room to the glass to replace the tooth with a $2 coin. Hazel was a short woman with some fragility and a bad back, having been paraplegic at one point in her life. And seeing her tip-toe was a rare sight.
I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.
“I saw that,” I said.
“Fine then, I won’t be doing this again,” she said.
I thought she was joking.
Months later I pulled out my last baby tooth. It was hidden at the back and had a hole through the middle like a doughnut.
I was with my real family’s postman – who had become a family friend. He said “I’ll give you 50 cents for that, and you should count yourself lucky.” I said nah, knowing the going rate for the tooth fairy.
And when I went back home I followed the same ritual. I put the tooth in the same glass, on the same dresser, and went to sleep.
To my disappointment, the tooth remained. There was no gold coin. Maybe the tooth fairy didn’t know.
“Wow!” I said loudly at dinner in the ad between Veronica’s Closet. “This gap between my teeth feels weird.”
Everybody ignored me.
The next morning, I woke for school. The tooth remained. I kept it there the next day, the next, the next, the next, the next week. I threw the tooth and the slimy water out.
Because the tooth fairy was dead.