1429 c/o Pippa Best

The Last Tooth

So I'm flicking my cheek. Over and over. And pushing against the last one with my tongue. Over and over. Like I'm kicking the back of Jake's chair and he won't move, until there's a red flush on his neck and his back goes straight and I know he's about to turn and yell. Just flick. Over and over.

Outside, the roof of the games shelter gobs rain back at the sky. Up and out. I tube my tongue, making a bowl for my spit. Suck it through. Push the tooth with my tongue hard but it still won't give.

Bell. Feet smack down the corridor, girls screaming, bags whack the wall. If I shunt forward in my seat I can see the back of him. I can see skin where his sock's rubbed through at the heel.

I stop flicking. I get my ruler out and tap it on the side of the chair but he doesn't move. I stick the ruler in my mouth and rock rock rock it until I taste rust.

Then Jake comes out and doesn't even look at me just goes into the corridor and I can hear the slap-slip slap-slip get faster until he's running. I poke at the bottom of the tooth where the gum feels thin.

Miss Burton holds the door open and stares at the ruler and I kick my foot back so the metal legs scrape the concrete. It makes her squint so I do it again. The ruler leaves a brown mark on my sleeve.

The door sticks on the carpet and she is frowning as she tugs it shut pointing at a plastic chair in front of her desk. The floor squelches if I roll my right foot. She's sorry to see me here again. I hold my foot still but she can't see in my mouth.

Her voice sounds like a washing machine. I'm pushing against the last one with my tongue and then my tongue pushes through and the tooth tips forward. And. Out.

She doesn't see anything to smile about. Out the window rain skis over Jake's shoe full of water on the roof.

I balance its weight on my tongue. It's the last one. All my kiddy teeth gone. My tongue fills the salty gap.

When she has stopped talking and closed the door over the sticky carpet, I pop the tooth into my hand. I want to show Jake.