The Art of Losing

Another short I wrote. 

This one is entirely fictional. I was overly excited to lose my baby teeth and the shiny coins that resulted in the tooth fairy’s visit. And I wasn’t born with a full set of teeth, though fun fact: I was born with a full head of hair.

I think this is week but I like my imagery here. I think I need to extend the metaphor and put it in something bigger to make any concrete sense though.

—-

The Art of Losing

I had my baby teeth. I had every one at birth, I hear this is rare. Small,white pearls with tiny edges, just sharp enough—I lost them. They were mine; I knew the roots went deeper than the soft flesh of my gums. They were a part of my skull, circling my brain and keeping me safe.  They left.

When the first twisted loose I screamed—I didn’t care that the tip of the next tooth was already poking through the skin, twice as sharp, ready to take its place and then some. The baby tooth would never come back. I pressed it into the roof of my mouth and screamed at the pain, blood dripping down my chin. It wouldn’t stay. My mother told me to place it under my pillow, everything would be better in the morning. I couldn’t sleep, I kept poking the empty space with my tongue and tasting the soft metallic flavor of my raw gums, hating the bump that grew there and wishing for my tooth, my tooth back. In the morning I threw the quarter across the room and cried. By the time the last one fell I was used to the empty space, but refused to welcome it.

My tonsils were next. I didn’t even know what they were, why they were in my body to begin with. Enflamed, they wanted to leave me. They weren’t pushed as my baby teeth were, they weren’t leaving to make space for something new. The spot in my throat where they did whatever bodily function they were made to do would remain empty forever.  I was supposed to be pacified by ice cream. I wasn’t.

Your appendix is somewhere else now too. There is a dead end in your body, a tube that now leads to nowhere. The purged organ floats carelessly in its jar, freed of its obligations to you. It’s better this way, you know this, or so they tell you. Green-tinted in formaldehyde, it’s admired for what it used to do, not what it is now. It might be forgotten entirely.

We’re all missing pieces. There are roads in us that end abruptly where there used to be something else. Empty spaces that used to have, and now have not. We fit together this way I suppose, our dead ends and missing pieces fill the spaces in each other. When the tooth is pulled, sometimes there isn’t a new one to replace it. False teeth will never be real ones.

My baby teeth were mine. I lost them, but they once clung to my gums as strong as iron. I can try to believe that they never were there to stay, but it never gets easier.

There were other things that were mine too. All as seemingly strong and as painfully temporary as baby teeth.

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