by Chris Murray
A children's story for adults.
|This is incomplete - I'll add to it as I go. Unfortunately time's that tight it could be months before I'm able to upload it in its entirety.|
Carborella was in almost every way, an entirely typical tooth fairy. Like all the other tooth faries currently employed by the Company, she wore standard uniform (stockings, frilly white skirt, satin waistcoat and magical wings on a very competitive eighteen month contract), and carried a typical tooth fairy bag, which aside from being able to hold an infinite number of childrens' teeth, also came with a secondary compartment for spare wands, a wash bag, hair spray and sunglasses (some children had very white teeth).
All in all, there was absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about her that a Human would notice. Other fairies however, tended to immediately pick up upon the brown bag in her left hand, and the half smoked roll-up in the other. Such things tended to be frowned upon by most of the fairy fraternity, but as I say, the average Human would probably fail to notice this. Most of them are quite stupid concerning fairies. Honestly, some of them don't even know they exist.
Carborella however, was very aware of her existence. She was also aware of the fact that she was slowly becoming dissatisfied with her chosen profession. If the truth were to be known, she only became a tooth fairy because that was what her mother had done, and Carborella's grandmother before her. Now whilst you or I might immediately think that being a tooth fairy sounds quite good fun, Carborella knew better. Despite the adverts which offered opportunities to see the world, get fit and advance according to merit, the heroine of our tale had fast learned that exercise wasn't all it was cracked up to be when you were hauling smelly teeth around, there was precious little point flying around the world if you could only do it at night time, and her healthplan didn't even include dental. All in all, it was fair to say she was unhappy with her lot in life and it was largely because of this that she carried a bottle of 40% proof fairy liquor around with her when she did her rounds. The roll-up was just for fun.
At this moment in time, it was 0400 AM in the morning, and Carborella was halfway through her bottle and fast approaching the end of her rounds. As was typical of her luck, she had drawn the short wand with her shifts and had spent the week working in Texas which made the already busy life of a tooth fairy that bit more hectic, not least because of the high rate of fairycide in the state. Ground rules for survival included not flying alone in dark areas and trying not to stand out too much. This was particularly hard for Carborella as you can imagine, because not only was she dressed completely in white, but silently retrieving childrens' teeth from underneath the pillow without waking them was made considerably harder if you turned the lights on. The special ops department of the Company (usually deployed in known danger zones, like Brixton) counteracted this by equipping themselves with night vision goggles and dressing up in black cloth. For ground level tooth fairies like Carborella however, such things were considered too expensive. Tooth fairies you see, were quietly considered to be expendable.
Carborella's last job of the evening was in a quiet little town called Victoree, not in memory of a great battle, but because the town had been named for its creator, Victor Edwards and the man who had made the first town sign had been somewhat lacking in the brains department. He'd also been lacking in the personal hygiene, fashion sense and tooth count departments, but that's besides the point and as this was a small town in Texas where people were happy with the spelling of Victoree, no one really noticed.
Small towns, particularly ones where literature was regarded as a type of foreign fish bait, presented a variety of problems for fairies of all sorts. Whereas large cities such as New York or Sydney were easy to flit about in, as most people dismissed the idea of fairies as ridiculous (remember what I said about Humans being stupid?), small towns like Victoree had communities which were ready to believe in a variety of outlandish ideas like aliens making crop circles to communicate instead of writing a letter, angels getting wings every time a bell rings (nowadays they just tend to get a phonecall), and of course, the tooth fairy. Admittedly, even the most imaginative of Victoree's residents didn't believe that there was an entire company of tooth fairies, with three and a half million employees, corporate headquarters in Dubai (In the Sky), and a number of third party sweat shops on a secret estate fourteen miles outside of Bangkok. But let's be fair. You never imagined it either, did you?
But we digress. If we were to go through everything you didn’t know about tooth fairies we’d be here all week. What you need to know is this. Carborella’s last job of the evening was a girl named Rex. You might think this was something of an odd name for a little girl and that’s because Rex was named after the family dog, who’d died some years earlier in mysterious circumstances. If this sounds silly to you, imagine how dogs feel when humans give them names like Kevin and Sally. Besides, this was Victoree, and they do things differently there.
As Carborella approached the girl, something happened that all tooth fairies dread.
Rex woke up.
‘Are you the Tooth Fairy?’
Carborella swore to herself. She’d forgotten to drug the kid. ‘Yeah, I’m a tooth fairy. Now be quiet and go back to sleep or you’ll get no money.’
‘You’re not exactly what I expected.’
The fairy frowned. ‘You want to see my ID? Go to sleep.’
Evidently unmoved by the hostility of the three-inch pixie in front of her, the girl continued. ‘My name’s Rex; what’s yours?’
Carborella responded by rummaging in her bag. Rex wasn’t the first child to wake up during a collection and The Corporation had long ago developed ways to deal with it. Removing her hand from the bag, Carborella threw something at Rex’s eyes.
‘Ow!’ The girl scrunched up her face and held up a skinny arm in defence. ‘What was that?’
‘Sleeping sand. Don’t you feel tired?’
The girl shook her head energetically whilst rubbing brown grains off her nose. If anything, she was more awake than ever.
Carborella frowned and looked at the container she’d taken the sand out of. It was properly marked; she’d picked the right one but… ‘Damnit.’
‘You shouldn’t swear,’ chastised Rex.
‘And you shouldn’t be awake.’ Carborella licked the grain in her hand and pulled a face. ‘That pix Joe has been swapping my stash again! This stuff’s real sand! It’s useless!’
‘From the beach? I’ve never seen a real beach before. We were supposed to go to California last year but Mom got sick and we couldn’t.’
‘That’s great kid. Why don’t you go to sleep and tell me all about it in your dream?’
‘You can see my dreams?’
‘Sure, why not?’
‘So what was I dreaming off before you woke me up?’
The tooth fairy gave an exasperated sigh. ‘String, or nothing.’
‘Nope! How much do I get for my teeth this year anyway?’ By this point Rex had sat up in bed.
Annoyed, but unable to do anything until she’d collected, Carborella angrily started rolling a cigarette. ‘A dollar.’
‘Last year I got two!’
‘Last year it was an incisor. They were on special offer. Plus there’s a recession on, Kid. Don’t you read? We all have to make sacrifices. Why do you think I’m on these things?’ She held up the rollup as evidence.
‘My mom says cigarettes are bad for you.’
‘And I said, “go to sleep” but you didn’t listen to me, did you?’
‘What’s your name?’ Rex was an inquisitive girl and had been told by her schoolteacher that asking questions was nearly always a good thing.
‘That’s a strange name.’
‘Says the kid named after the dog.’
‘Rex was a good role model!’
‘How would you know? He died before you were born.’
‘Yeah, but… how did you know that?’
Carborella raised an eyebrow. ‘Who do you think collected his teeth?’
‘You take dogs teeth?’
‘Why not? They’re bigger than yours, and they don’t cost money. Only downside is dogs can smell us so it makes it harder to sneak up on them.’
‘Rex lost his sense of smell.’
Carborella remembered. ‘So are you going to give me that tooth or not?’
‘Sure,’ Rex nodded with a grin. ‘But you have to talk to me for a little while longer.’
‘Why do you want to talk to me?’
‘I’ve never talked to a tooth fairy before.’
Carborella stopped. It was as good an answer as any. ‘Fine. What do you want to talk about?’
‘You said you were “a tooth fairy.” The sentence structure suggests that there are more than you.’
‘What are you, grammar girl?’
‘I got first place in the Victoree Spelling Bee this year.’
‘That’s a more ironic sentence than you know, kid.’
‘My name’s Rex.’
‘Then why do you keep calling me kid? I’m not a goat.’
‘And I’m not a camp counselor. I’m a tooth fairy. Yes, I’m one of many. Can you imagine collecting all the teeth in all the world all by yourself in one night? There is such a thing as physics you know. I’m not magic.’
Rex frowned at this.
Carborella rolled her eyes. ‘Okay, I am magic, but I’m not a miracle worker. Who could do that kind of thing? And don’t say Santa.’
‘Santa’s not real.’
‘Actually he is; he’s just retired. Lives in Hawaii now. Loves a drink.’
‘I thought he lived at the North Pole.’ Rex was hearing a lot of strange things from the fairy that she wasn’t sure whether to believe or not.
‘You ever been to the north pole?’
‘Because it’s really far away and—‘
‘Well, it’s really cold.’
‘Yes it is. Imagine living in that all the time. You know it’s nighttime most of the year there? It’s no wonder he moved.’
‘So he did used to live there,’ Rex smiled triumphantly.
‘He had a factory up there. Figured it was the best way to keep it secret from you guys without paying the Martians rent. Had to move when you decided you wanted to be “explorers” and see what was up there.’
Among Rex’s many interests was space, and one word Carborella had said stood out to her, even in a conversation with a tooth fairy about Santa’s secret factory. ‘Did you say “Martians”?’
Carborella stopped drinking mid-swig. Why was she having a conversation about Martians with a girl named after the family dog? This had to end. ‘We’ve talked enough. Give me the tooth.’
‘Give me my money,’ Rex shot back defiantly.
‘You can’t have the money until you give me the tooth.’
‘You can’t have the money until you talk to me some more.’
‘Then no money!’
‘Then no tooth!’
The two stared at each other like gunmen in an old Western. If those gunmen looked like a nine year old girl and a three inch fairy.
‘So what do you want to do now?’ Carborella was not impressed.
‘Why don’t we play a game?’
‘I’m not playing hide-and-seek.’
‘I don’t want to play hide-and-seek. Besides, you’d be rubbish.’
Carborella scoffed. ‘Hello? Tooth fairy.’
Rex scoffed right back. ‘Hello? You can’t even fly in my room without waking me up.’
The fairy didn’t have a lot of pride in her work, but she did like to think she was good at it. ‘I was quiet as a mouse. Quieter. I mean, really quieter. That’s a stupid saying anyway; mice never shut up; they’re always jabbering on about something. I was silent!’
‘I heard you open the window.’
‘Well you knew I was coming. Why didn’t you leave the window open?’
‘I was cold!’
‘And I was breaking and entering to swap a tooth for ten percent of its market value! A little consideration would have been nice.’
Rex wasn’t really hurt by Carborella shouting at her, but she decided to try and make the fairy feel bad anyway. She brought her eyebrows down in a frown, snarted sniffing and wobbling her bottom lip. The face had always worked on her father, and sometimes resulted in ice cream.
‘Yeah, that’s not going to work, kid. I’m not your Dad.’
‘That kind of magic only works on dads, and only from their daughters.’
‘Because dads are already under a spell when their daughters are born. Now which side of the pillow is the tooth under?’
‘What do you mean it’s not? That’s the rule! Where else would you put it?’
‘My cousin Elsie hides hers in her ear.’
‘Your cousin Elsie is the stupidest girl in Texas.’
‘You’re not very nice, you know that?’
‘Life’s not very nice. I know that. Where’s the tooth?’
‘In my mouth.’
If Carborella had known what she was going to say at that point, she quickly forgot. Pulling a scroll out of thin air, she checked her diary. ‘It was supposed to fall out yesterday morning when you ate breakfast. What happened?’
‘I didn’t eat breakfast.’
‘You didn’t eat…’ Carborella struggled to comprehend what was going on. ‘It’s the most important meal of the day.’
‘There’s no evidence to prove that. It’s not the most important.’
‘It was yesterday! You… you can’t just not follow the plan! That tooth has to be out now!’
‘Well it’s not.’
‘Not yet.’ Carborella dug deep into her bag. So deep in fact that everything but her white shoes disappeared into it. Rex tried hard to not giggle. She was about to crack when Carborella emerged and what she held in her hands stopped the girl cold.
‘What are you going to do with those?’
Carborella looked slowly from the object in one hand to the other. Each was an inch long and could only have been for one thing. She was holding a hammer and chisel. ‘Don’t worry. I’ve done this before.’
‘Done what before?’ Rex was very worried now.
‘Well, I haven’t but I watched a video on YouTube which pretty much explained everything. Open wide.’
Rex’s head moved lightning fast from side to side and she clamped her lips sealed. ‘Mmnn mnnn!’
Carborella stood by Rex’s left hand while she looked up at the girl’s face.
Quick as a flash! She raised the hammer up, and smashed it down on Rex’s finger with all her might. Now Carborella wasn’t particularly strong, and even the strongest tooth fairies are still only three inches high, but Rex had never been hammered on the thumb by a pixie before and the shock caused her to yell out in pain.
By the way, if you’re wondering at this point why Rex’s parents hadn’t heard her talking to someone all this time, they were in bed having… Well, they were in bed making noise of their own. You’ll learn about this when you grow up. Some of you sooner than others, and if it’s too soon, and you’re uncomfortable about it, just tell whomever you’re with that there’s a tooth fairy in the next room and they’ll leave you alone. That kind of thing happens when you’re older. Sort of. Anyway,