She hated him. Granny’s favourite. He’d pushed her and hurt her, and she’d said something nasty to him and repeated it several times. Her grandmother had put her hand over her mouth, spoken about soap and water and vile language from the mouth of such a small child. It just wasn’t fair. Granny never saw her point of view. That day Rosa was a six-year-old red-hot ball of fury and humiliation. Marlon, though only one year older, was physically much bigger and stronger. She could only dream of physical retaliation, but got lucky sometimes with her sharp tongue.
Granny and Jock went for their afternoon nap and the two children were confined to the stuffy caravan bedroom. The idea was that they should take a nap too, but that was not realistic. Marlon was ignoring her now and she suddenly wanted company. But she wasn’t sorry. So why should she say she was? So she just lay there feeling lonely and frustrated. Marlon read his book for eight-year-olds and older and every now and then let out a loud guffaw.
Then she remembered the loose tooth on her bottom jaw. She wobbled it a little, then a little more, so that it hurt and she could taste the blood. She quite liked the taste and there was something pleasurable about the pain. She continued to worry it, yanking it back and forward, from side to side, twisting it clockwise, then anticlockwise. Finally the inevitable happened. With an exquisite sense of pain and relief, the tooth detached from the gum and lay in her hand like a bloodied trophy. She didn’t tell her brother. And later at tea-time she didn’t speak about it either. She was still feeling bitter towards Granny and couldn’t tell Jock without old Mrs. Fusspot hearing. Anyway no-one noticed.
But she washed it clean of blood, wrapped it in tissue paper and popped it under her pillow that night before going to bed.
The next morning she woke up and looked under the pillow immediately. But her heart sank. The shape of the scrunched up tissue paper told her that the tooth was still there. No-one cared about her, not even the tooth fairy.
Breakfast was outside in the wooded clearing as usual. Jock fetched chairs and the collapsible table. Granny brought out cheese, salami, boiled eggs and orange juice and that horrible German bread and some normal bread for her and Marlon. But she wasn’t hungry. What was the point of eating? She would starve herself to death. Then they would be sorry.
“Och aye, the wee lass has joined the pirates,” said Jock. “What’s happened to your tooth, princess?”
Without warning the tears started flowing and in stops and starts she explained the situation, while Marlon looked on, surprised and a little superior.
“Och, if I were you, girl, I would give it another go. Probably just a silly old forgetful tooth fairy. Like your old grandfather, eh?”
Later, she couldn’t remember the rest of the day too well except that when it was “Granny’s-shop-is-shut” time, Jock took them on one of those long walks in the woodlands round the caravan where he continued the saga of Peg-Leg-Pete the pirate, and Granny got some work done in peace and quiet.
But the next day — Oh the next delicious day! — she woke up and looked under the pillow. The tissue paper was completely gone. In its place, a blue envelope with a ten p coin in it and a letter.
I am very sorry that I could not get this to you yesterday. I was not aware that you were on holiday and so I first flew to the Wicklow mountains. On the way back from Co. Wicklow to England there was a terrible storm over the Irish sea and I got blown off course. My wings got very wet and I had to take shelter on the Isle of Man. So I am sorry for the delay. Thank you for the tooth. It is a very fine specimen indeed.
The Tooth Fairy
Granny and Jock are dead now and Rosa herself is past the first flush of youth. She no longer believes in fairies, but occasionally, when life gets bleak and no-one can be trusted, least of all herself, the greatest grandfather who ever lived surfaces in her mind and banishes the chill and scatters the darkness.
Shivaun Conroy, no cats, frequently lurks around EDF looking for reading material. On December 30th she’s the writer, which is fun and a bit nerve-wracking if she’s honest. But she’s an adult so can deal with it…