The Tooth the Tooth Fairy Forgot
Stanley Carr looked at himself in the mirror in the bathroom of his and his parents' two-bedroom apartment in Culver City. He saw his sandy head of hair and the freckles on his cheeks. He had a loose tooth. It was bright white. He pushed against it with his tongue, and it wiggled. It had for a whole week. Well, not a week straight. Just when he wiggled it. However, no matter how much he wiggled his tooth with his tongue, it did not come out. He wanted it to come out, because his dad told him the Tooth Fairy might come and leave him some spare change in exchange for the tooth. Stanley knew spare change was never much, but his dad said he should be grateful, anyway, because even the tooth fairy had to struggle to make ends meet.
While Stanley was excited to lose his tooth and trade it with the Tooth Fairy for maybe a little money, he was nowhere near as excited as was the tooth itself. See, the tooth - named Horatio - was a dreamer. He — not it — was a baby tooth, which meant he would not be allowed to grow up in Stanley’s mouth. He had to get to Fairy Land to do that, to grow up into something different. Few people knew about that.
When Horatio first realized Stanley’s gums were not hugging his roots as tightly as they used to hug them, he reminded himself this was all part of the process. It was more than a little scary to think he might come loose and wind up on a sidewalk somewhere, or in an open field, or even a sandbox. Then, he would decay — which is a horrible thing to happen to a tooth — and never grow up. But he felt destined for Fairy Land, so he promised himself he would get there, no matter what.
He just needed to be sure he remembered the Fairy Land Poem. He had heard it spoken to him in a dream. Being a tooth in Stanley's head and all, it was Stanley's dream, too. But, just because Stanley and Horatio were linked, they were not the same. It was up to Horatio to remember the poem on his own. If he remembered it correctly, then everything would be okay.
If he didn't, well...
Horatio did not like to think about that.
It was a strange poem though, as it made Horatio think he had to recite it after Stanley fell asleep in his cozy bed in his cozy room, but before he himself actually fell out of Stanley's mouth. This seemed out of order, which is why Horatio was sure to recite the poem every night right after Stanley fell asleep. The poem went like this:
If I fall
Before he wakes
I pray the Tooth Fairy
Myself to take
And whisk me away
To Fairy Land
Where I may learn
What only grownup teeth
That falling is not flying
That sleeping is not dreaming
That trading is not giving
And that giving never ends
He thought maybe the poem he had been given was strange because he was special. But he did not feel special. After all, he was just a baby tooth, who would not be allowed to grow up in Stanley's mouth. Still, feeling how Stanley's gums kept losing their grip on him, he knew he would fall soon, and he wanted to be extra, extra sure he got to Fairy Land.
One evening, at dinner time, Stanley, tired of eating with a wiggly tooth, wiggled Horatio harder than normal. Before he set to eating the roast beef his mother had cooked, and right after his father had said grace, Stanley grabbed Horatio with his thumb and forefinger and pulled him right out of his mouth!
Horatio yelped a voiceless yelp when he felt his roots break completely free of Stanley's gums. Held in the palm of Stanley's hand, he sensed Stanley's face looking down.
Stanley smiled. There was an empty spot where his top left front tooth - Horatio - used to be.
Horatio always thought Stanley a nice boy, but it made him a little sad when he got set down next to Stanley's plate. He had to sit there, feeling hollow, until dinner was done.
That night, Horatio got tucked in a black velvet bag and put under Stanley's blue pillow-cased pillow. He could not see anything, not even the inside of Stanley's mouth. But he could hear Stanley's parents come in and kiss him goodnight.
"Maybe the Tooth Fairy will come after you fall asleep. Get some rest, son," was the last thing Mrs. Carr said before shutting the door with a gentle creak and a click.
Stanley turned on his side. He reached a hand under his pillow, so it could touch the black velvet bag and support his head at the same time. "Good night, tooth," he said.
If he was more than a tooth, Horatio would have smiled. No one had ever spoken to him like that. He had had conversations in dreams, but never when Stanley was awake. He did not try and say anything just then, though, because he knew he could not, and because he wanted Stanley to fall asleep so he could recite his strange poem one last time.
Something odd happened, though. When Stanley fell asleep, so did Horatio. Stanley fell asleep thinking about what he might buy with his spare change, while Horatio fell asleep thinking about that poem, the poem he failed to recite for the first night since he had heard it.
When Horatio woke up next, he was falling. Literally falling. It was quite scary.
Stanley, asleep yet restless, had moved his arm and swiped the black velvet bag out from under his pillow, against the bedroom wall and onto the floor.
It landed safely enough, though. So did Horatio. But Horatio was frightened. Caught in a dark bag on the floor, he yelled the entire poem with all his might. Because he was just a tooth, though, his yelling did not amount to much.
Everything was quiet.
Stanley muttered something and started snoring just a little.
Then, Horatio heard a light tap, like wood on glass.
"It must be the Tooth Fairy at the window!" he thought to himself.
Sure enough, he heard the window slide open, just a bit. Then, he heard the fluttering of wings.
"Horatio?" called the Tooth Fairy. Her voice was bright like crystal, yet soft, like the velvet bag in which Horatio was still stuck.
Before Horatio could shout out in reply, there was a sudden, horrifying commotion. Something smacked up against the window. Once, twice, and then there was a frantic flapping sound, much louder than the fluttering wings of the Tooth Fairy. Whatever was doing the flapping danced erratically about the room. It even knocked Stanley's mostly empty piggybank off the dresser and sent it crashing to the wooden floor, where it broke open and spilled pennies, nickels and dimes all over the place.
Horatio was so frightened, he thought maybe a dragon was attacking the Tooth Fairy.
The next thing he heard, though, was the Tooth Fairy say in a firm, somewhat irritated voice, with much less crystal and hardly any velvet in it at all, "Darn bats! Reverso obfuscandum!"
The window slammed shut.
Suddenly, everything was different.
Very, very quiet.
Stanley no longer snored, but he still slept.
Also, the Tooth Fairy's wings no longer fluttered.
But what was really weird was this:
Horatio had legs and feet, arms and hands. He had eyes, and something like ears and a nose, as well. He even had a mouth. He was a tooth with teeth!
"Ooh!" he declared.
This sound made Stanley mutter something in his sleep, so Horatio decided not to say anything more until he knew what was going on.
He felt around inside the black velvet bag, to see if he could get out.
That was when he heard something nearby scrape and scurry. A husky, squeaky voice said, "At last! And free of charge!" This something chomped into one of the edges of the black velvet bag and dragged it across the floor.
Horatio struggled, but could not take control.
It hurt him when the bag was dragged over a sharp bump of some kind, and even more when it was pulled willy-nilly through what seemed to be a tunnel. He kept banging up against hard walls on either side in different directions.
Terrified now, Horatio mustered up a scream.
Whatever had the bag in its teeth stopped pulling. After a good few seconds of silent contemplation, it let go completely.
A rough voice said, "Well, now. That's most unusual. You can come out now, whoever - or whatever - you may or may not happen to be."
He noticed a little bit of dim light coming through a hole in the bag.
Grabbing and pulling, he ripped the bag further open, surprised at his own strength. Finally, he wriggled out of the opening, and surveyed his surroundings.
He was in front of a mouse. The mouse was white and gray, and frowning in distress.
He and the mouse were inside a wall. Behind the mouse was a mouse hole that led to the carpeted floor of a room of some sort.
Coming from the room and through the mouse hole was the soft glow of a nightlight and the faint smell of peppermint.
Horatio was pretty sure they were just outside the bedroom of the Conch's neighbors' baby.
"Huh!" spat the mouse with a sharp outward breath. "Let's see, now. You must be that tooth everyone's been talking about. Horatio, right?"
Incapable of nodding, since he had no head, Horatio bent his knees and bowed a little. He had no idea what the mouse was taking about.
"Well, then. First things first." The mouse folded his arms. "My name's Dante. And you, Mr. Tooth the Tooth Fairy Forgot, you owe me."
Horatio's eyes widened in surprise.
Now how would he get to Fairy Land?
"What do you mean?" he bravely asked. "The Tooth Fairy never forgets anyone!"
"Well, she forgot you. That's for sure."
TO BE CONTINUED