“See anything you like?” the curse-broker asked, popping her head in through the door of the consultation room.
Lauren looked up from the catalogue open across her lap. Last week, in those first moments of rage, the idea of supernatural retribution had seemed perfectly reasonable. Now she was less convinced. “To be honest, I didn’t realize there would be so many options.”
The curse-broker smiled, understanding. “It can be overwhelming.”
Lauren nodded and turned the page. The heading — academic curses — had separate listings for students cursing teachers, teachers cursing students, students cursing students, and teachers cursing Other, a category which included everything from PTA members and principals to the editors of peer-reviewed academic journals.
The curse-broker stepped into the room and sat down at her desk. “If I may make a suggestion, try giving page 410 a look.”
Lauren flipped ahead. Page 410 was a full-color, glossy image of an open mouth, crowded three and four rows deep with extra sets of misshapen teeth. “Supernumerary teeth,” the curse-broker said. “The technical term is magical hyperdontia. I don’t mean to brag, but it’s a specialty of our office. In fact, it’s our best seller. We get hundreds of orders every month from all over the world.”
Lauren had closed the catalogue, but the image still hung in her mind. “It looks disgusting.”
“Because it is. It’s customizable too. You can specify the type, quantity, and location of the tooth or teeth. You see, the basic technology behind magical hyperdontia has existed for centuries, but was limited to palate and mandible insertions. It’s only been recent advancements that have made it possible to implant a tooth anywhere there’s bone.”
The curse-broker’s smile widened. “Yes. I’m told placement between the tarsals yields maximum pain.”
“So the tooth grows spontaneously?”
“Not exactly. It will seem spontaneous to the victim, but ‘grow’ doesn’t really describe it. The curse is surgical in nature and the teeth are transplants. Think along the lines of teleportation.”
Lauren imagined a second set of large, swine-like teeth, suddenly erupting in the mouth that had lied to her and betrayed her. Perhaps she had come to the right place after all. “Can I specify the species?”
“What kinds of animals do the teeth come from?”
“The teeth must be from a live human donor.”
“But you said it was a top seller.”
“It is, but don’t worry. Our wholesaler assures us that all of the teeth are ethically sourced and humanely harvested.”
“Look! Look!” Sam shouted, holding the tooth in her open hand up so that her mother could see it. “It got stuck in my lunch apple.”
“Looks like a canine,” Mother said.
“Nope. It’s mine. And I’m going to put it under my pillow so that the tooth fairy brings me a dollar.”
J. M. Sinclair has lived in Canada and Japan. She wonders where she will live next.