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.

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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.

A Thing I Wrote a While Ago

I wrote this while still in college. I like it, I’m just putting it here so that I don’t lose it. I’m going to post a couple of these, just for fun. Just to save.

Semi-fictional. I wrote it after I had lunch with an ex, where upon getting in my car I wondered why the hell I had lunch with my ex in the first place. I suppose it was that moment we all have after we’ve entirely exhausted all emotions for a person and we realize we really have moved on.

It was a new sensation for me. I used to be one of those girls who waited and cried herself to sleep hoping the person would magically start caring again. It always seemed like it took forever to move on. I wasn’t able to stop caring. I can do that now, not immediately, but after some time the feelings do fade and life stops feeling impossible.

Oh how badly this needs editing, hah.

Anyway. Here ya go.

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Amputee

They say that a limb will ache for years after it’s been detached from the body. An amputee will feel the tingle of their toes when their leg ends at the knee. Your shoulder will itch when the bone is not there, and never will be there again.

The heart has phantom limbs too, I think.

I remember how much it hurt:  It was as if the pain extended like an arm from within my rib cage, red and raw, reaching up to my throat and strangling me. My eyes watered. I screamed in a drunken stupor: How can you just stop loving someone? while I tangled myself around the fluffy pink rug in my new apartment, a phone in my hand making calls I shouldn’t have made after two bottles of wine and a very broken heart and a world that was suddenly so impossible.

This night the pain was far away, but I felt like I could still feel it humming. Sitting across from him, discussing our lives and where they were now. You hurt me, once, my brain said quietly as I separated my salad into the things I liked best, in order: avocado, beets, tomato. He even looked different.

And so we made the small talk that people make when they have nothing in common anymore besides a single year together that happened a while ago.

Don’t be the least bit annoyed that he’s an hour late, I told myself. Don’t flinch when he doesn’t remember a movie you saw together, only vaguely wonder if he’s seeing someone new, laugh about things that are funny, and don’t be nervous. You know each other too well to be nervous, even if it’s been a while. You’re not the crazy girl that made that phone call, you’re not. you’re not. you’re not. Let him see it?

Look how well I’m doing. Look how better I am without you… Am I doing this right?

The arm that used to strangle me began to itch a little, the lightest of fingers brushing across my throat, not because you miss him, I reminded myself. It was almost worse, somehow. It’s because you don’t miss him, I realized.

And somewhere, sometime before I’d eaten all the beets I hear the answer I screamed in my heartbreak months before: How do you just stop loving someone?

How?—You just do. It’s slow, never all at once, but you just do. And you can’t even remember when or how it happened.

The missing limb tingles sometimes, but it’s fuzzy and far away and long, long gone.