Sunday, September 3, 2017


The Tooth

Gail ran her finger along the edge of the huge tooth she'd found. It was serrated, very sharp, and somewhat flattened. A drop of blood welled up. She absently sucked her finger as she walked. When she got to school it was almost time for the bell. While taking the steps two at a time she thought she saw bones under a privet bush. Big bones.

Gail tried to focus on math, but her hand kept slipping into her pocket to stroke the giant tooth. She imagined a saber tooth tiger prowling around the building, growling softly when it saw students misbehaving.

"Gail!" From the tone of Ms. Horton's voice, this must be at least the second time she had tried to get Gail's attention.

"Yes ma'am," Gail said.

"The problem on the board, young lady, has proven intractable. Why don't you show us your solution."

Gail had no clue. What would a saber tooth tiger do? She bared her teeth and stroked the tooth in her pocket. She stumbled through the problem until Ms. Horton finally let her sit down. Saber tooths are ambush predators. They bide their time and strike when they are ready.

All day she saw images of cats: taped to the wall, projected on screens, in patterns of cracks in the tiles. Finally, school let out. Outside, she looked under the privet, but didn't see any bones. Joselle Simpson looked at her funny.

"What you got under there?"

"That's for me to know and you to find out." Lame. A sabertooth would have twitched its tail and yawned, showing its huge teeth. Joselle would have wet her pants.

"What you smiling at? I ain't funny!"

Gail just smiled again, and headed home. On the way, she had this feeling. A feeling that something was following her. Not a creepy guy in a dirty raincoat. More like a saber tooth, padding with silent deliberation. She didn't see anything, but you wouldn't, would you?

When she got to her block, she looked warily for Butch. He was a pit bull-something-or-other mix and he was mean. Mr. Logan had promised to keep the dog chained up, but he forgot about half the time. Sure enough, there was Butch, trotting straight towards her. She was too far from her house. Gail stood still, hands wrapped around her chest. Then she put one in her pocket. She grasped the tooth, felt it draw blood. She glared at Butch, who skidded to a stop, yipped like he'd been kicked, and ran back home. Gail smiled, showing all her teeth.

Publ. Daily Cabal 2010

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