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Rebecca Hawkes

Milk Tooth Repossession in the Gig Economy

The tooth fairy is in the dental nurse’s office; photocopying patient
notes and names, opening filing cabinets with rubber-gloved delicacy.
She puts post-its on the record of every recent extraction and adds relevant addresses
to an app. Wings don’t come with the job but she gets reimbursed for petrol.
She has been issued with a sturdy ladder and few rolls of small change.
Also, lockpicks.

Hitching her skirt to squeeze through windows and gliding gloved hands
under pillows wasn’t what she had in mind when she got her BA, though at least
the pay’s alright. Night shifts, mostly. Tooth fairying is a bit like Uber. All you need to start
is your own transport and a smartphone. She’s gotten used to the sound of hollow molars
and snippy little incisors chittering from their labelled canisters in the glovebox of her
Subaru Legacy.

The tooth fairy doesn’t especially enjoy children, except when they’re asleep;
the quick little animals slackened to feeble fist-clenching, all pillow dribble
and sucked thumbs. Though of course there are KPIs to consider. If she isn’t making
her monthly quota, the tooth fairy slips a pair of pliers into her bra. Leaves an extra dollar
or two. It’s surprising how many kids sleep with their mouths open, wide as
an invitation.

She tells her parents she works as a teacher aide. She’s not, but they bite;
swallow the lie with a smile. Anyhow, the lesson she reinforces is
important. The children are learning how easy it is to get unmade again.
Wiggling their tongues into hollows and pits where the strongest hardest bits
of themselves have turned out to be just as tender on the inside as
everything else.

Paper laps rhythmic from the photocopier the way waves
softly kiss their shoreline over and over, or else the way
a tongue returns repeatedly to press its curiousness at
the hard enamel walls on either side of a new gap –
Touching down briefly and then hushing away but almost always
coming back.

Tooth Fairy After Breakup

Crying in some kid’s bedroom, pulling
herself together, then quietly
leaning over his forehead (one hand
under the pillow already) when she sees
a clear rope of snot abseiling slowly
from her snivelling nose down
to his Angry Birds duvet. She
does not feel fairylike, so full
of mucus. The mesh and glitter
wings she is contractually
obliged to wear hang heavy on their
elastic straps. A mocking moon slips in
the window and outside
she has left her headlights on.
The tooth between her fingers is
sharp as laughter; the coin in her other hand
so newly minted she finds it hard to let go.

She Has Been Having Nightmares About All Her Teeth Falling Out

                        The tooth fairy keeps up
her daily calcium intake. Gets back to her flat
and rips the lid from a pottle of yoghurt, slurps
spoonfuls untastingly in front of breakfast TV
on the couch. As she swills a sweetened clot
around her tongue, something small
and hard clatters loose
in her mouth.
                        The tooth fairy spits
out a passionfruit pip and watches it
slide down the arm of her sofa
like the world’s tiniest eclipse,
a dark heart motionless
in its membrane
of light.

Rebecca Hawkes, 22, completed an MA in creative nonfiction with distinction at the IIML in 2016 and remains a perpetual student in Wellington. She spends an inordinate amount of time worrying at her last remaining wisdom tooth and keeps the other three in a half-geode of amethyst.