Walking through the plaza, I can’t help but smile. It’s always so cheery here, and I just happen to have the world’s whitest and brightest smile. Sometimes I hate to smile because everyone stares when I do. The unbreakable gazes fill me with paranoia and anxiety. No one has ever approached me despite their captured attention upon seeing my smile, so I don’t pay attention or expect anyone to say anything to me. That’s how I like it.
I feel my phone buzz in my pocket when I walk into my favorite cafe. I finish ordering and take my regular seat before checking the text.
“You have an extraordinary smile.”
Not unusual, I got texts about my smile nearly every day. The only thing that was off, it was an unknown number.
“Thank you. May I ask who this is?” I can’t help but wonder while typing my reply. I sip my soda until my phone buzzes again.
“You know me. My teeth were something you had a fairly unusual fascination with, remember?”
My blood chills. Who was this and what kind of response is that? I grow uneasy and type my response cautiously.
“What are you talking about? Who is this?”
*Buzz buzz* I check my phone shakily.
“I’m behind you. Be polite and greet me with a smile.”
I don’t want to turn. I don’t want to look, but I do anyways. The sight was… normal. A woman, young and beautiful, was looking at me from her seat. She smiles.
“Oh my god…” I utter to myself. She smiled… but she had no teeth. Not even stumps of once present teeth. But she was also familiar. Her eyes were most recognizable…
I gasp and fall out my chair as I make my escape. It couldn’t be. Impossible. She’d seen her die. Seen the life leave her eyes. As I run, my phone rings over and over. I don’t pick up.
As I round a corner, I scream and fall. She was blocking my path of escape. How did she get here so fast? She was still sitting as she lost her view of the cafe when she was running. I try to scramble backwards but find the sidewalk behind me gone, replaced by a black void. Black so dark, it felt not of this earth.
“You’re known for your smile. So white and bright. What would happen if it got out how you get your oh-so-gorgeous teeth like that?”, she asks. Her voice now sounded morphed. Mixed with something… animalistic.
“What do you mean? Who are you? What are you!” I yell at the woman.
She raises her hand and a wand appears out of thin air. Wings suddenly sprout from her back. A crown pops onto her head. Like… magic.
“I am what you believed in as a child. I took your tiny, precious lost teeth from under your pillow, leaving you a coin or two in recompense.”
THE TOOTH FAIRY??!! She wasn’t real. This woman is crazy. I had to get away. Had to find help. I get up and scan my surroundings for any possible escape. Nothing.
“I don’t know you. Get away from me! Leave me alone, you’re crazy!” I scream at her. She only smiles. Her gums lined with empty holes where teeth should have been. I cringed in disgust.
“You know me. You have my most precious possessions with you every moment of everyday. Even now. The really make your smile shine,” she says with a gaze so intense, I can’t look away. She walks, no, floats… to me. I make to move, but find myself paralyzed. She’s so close now.
“Give me back my teeth, Laura. Give them to me, or I’ll yank every last one from your pretty little mouth.” Her voice was cold and bitter. I clamp my mouth shut. She knew. She really knew.
“Open up. Let me see those pearly whites.” She grabs my face, pain striking my jaw like lightning. She’s prying my mouth open. My jaw pops. Then again. One more time and with immense pain. She dislocated my jaw.
“There they are. My teeth. Mine once again”, she bellows loudly. I realize what’s about to happen when she takes out pliers and clamp on my front teeth.
My vision is clouded black and white when she pulls out the first tooth. Then the next and again. Every single tooth. Blinding white agony rips through my body with every lost tooth. I can’t take it. I pass into the blackness and lose consciousness.
I awake on the ground, my mouth in fiery, uncontrollable pain. My teeth… gone. I curse the woman with a rainbow of vocabulary then sit up. As I lean on the wall behind me, I realize I’m back where I started. I need teeth to smile. I pull out my now cracked phone and send a text.
“Hey, I have a dentist appointment in a little bit and I’m kind of anxious. You think you can come with?” Not even two minutes pass before my phone buzzes.
“Yeah, of course. Where do we met?” my sister says.
I send an address to her.
“Isn’t that the abandoned warehouse?”
“No, they remodeled it into a dentist office.” I text.
“Oh, okay. Meet you there!”
I involuntarily smile, but wince at the pain. I had an appointment and needed to clean up. I go to a nearby bathroom and wash up. When I finish, I go to my car and drive to the office. Parking, I avoid broken glass and discarded pipes, turning my gaze to the old and broken building in front of me. I grip my pliers and get out waiting on my client for her scheduled tooth removal appointment with a grin. I have the best smile in the world for a reason. I’m a dentist. My smile is perfect. Maybe not always mine though.