Short Story: “Tooth Fairy Tail”
“TOOTH FAIRY TAIL”
A Rett Bonneville Short Story
By Anne M. Freeman©
This story is dedicated to my best friend from childhood, Barbara McClintock, children’s book writer and illustrator extraordinaire, and the best darn story-teller around.
My tooth fairy was a rat. The morning my third tooth fell out, our Spanish teacher taught us about tooth fairies from around the world, once she saw that her class was full of gappy smiles. Along with our tooth fairy, Mrs. Quinlan read stories like the one about a Spanish tooth mouse that left prizes under kid’s pillows.
After reviewing all of the facts of the stories she told us, I determined that my tooth fairy was not a fairy or a mouse. It was a Scottish white fairy rat gone bad. Instead of giving kid’s money for their teeth like in Scotland, my fairy rat took my baby teeth, the money it was supposed to leave for me under my pillow, and it even took my Bazooka Bubblegum from my bed stand! It was a real ratfink! Now that I knew what I was dealing with, I was determined that it wouldn’t steal from me again tonight.
At the dinner table that evening, I showed my family my lost tooth and explained that I had a Scottish fairy rat who stole from me, and not the regular tooth fairy. Predictably, my two older brothers laughed themselves silly, chanting, “Fairy rat! Fairy rat!” while my parents just sat and stared at their plates, covering their mouths with their hands. I couldn’t believe they didn’t defend me against the teasing from my older brothers!
By now, hot tears streamed down my cheeks, and Mother tried to assured me that only the tooth fairy came to our house, not a tooth rat or a tooth mouse. Father sent my brothers from the table without dessert, and told them to stop laughing and calling me “Gappy Ratty!” Dinner ended in general disarray, and I left the table with no promise of aid from my parents against that tooth rat. I had to defend myself.
I waited quietly until everyone was busy with their after-dinner activities: my brothers were playing video games, Mother was reading, and Father was watching the news on TV. Satisfied that no one was paying me any attention, I snuck around the kitchen gathering supplies and then headed up to my bedroom. After peeking one last time down the hallway, I shut my bedroom door and implemented my plan of defense.
First, I moved my desk chair so it lined up directly across from the closet door. From a plastic sandwich bag, I pulled out a long piece of string I’d clipped from the ball my parents use to tie up newspapers for recycling. After dinner, I died the string a dark brown by soaking it in a filter full of wet coffee grounds from dinner I’d scrounged from trash bag under the sink. That tooth rat wouldn’t be able to see the string in the dark. I tied one end dripping end of the string to my desk chair and strung it across to the room. Then I tied then other end to the closet door knob. When I stepped back to view my trip line, I realized it was too high for a tooth rat. I untied the wet string from the door knob, slid it underneath the closet door, and retied it to the inside knob. Then, I untied the line on the chair and moved it to one of the chair legs. The trip line was now perfect!
Next, I dumped my brothers’ plastic bin of wooden building blocks on the floor between the trip line and my bed. For my second line of defense, I built a two-foot high impenetrable wall that started at my nightstand and then arched until it curved inwards to about half-way down the length of my bed. The tooth rat might slip past the trip line, but if it did, it would have to get through the impenetrable wall! I smiled at the futility of such an idea.
Then came the final trap. From my bag of supplies, I pulled out a new glue mouse trap I’d found under the kitchen sink and unwrapped it. I stuck my baby tooth on the trap, climbed up the foot of my bed and crawled to my pillow, holding the trap carefully in my hand so that it wouldn’t get stuck on my blanket. I lifted the corner of my pillow and slid the glue trap under so it sat just past the edge of the pillow case. Satisfied with its position, I carefully placed the pillow back down on the bed and over the rat trap. I laughed when I thought of the stupid tooth rat stuck to my trap, but then shivered at the thought of the evil creature in my bed with me! It would never make it through my defenses, I assured myself.
Satisfied I’d executed the perfect plan, I took my Bazooka bubble gum stash from my PJ pockets, unfolded and read the comics, rewrapped the soft pink squares, and placed them on my night stand. Finally, I took a big breath and turned off the lamp. When I peered across my room in the darkness, I was satisfied that the stupid tooth rat wouldn’t see my trip line, the defensive wall, or the glue trap. I laid my head down on the far side of the pillow to avoid the rat trap, and waited, vowing I’d stay awake all night if necessary.
A slowly creaking door woke me from vivid nightmares of scurrying pink, oozing bubblegum wads with little white teeth sticking out in odd places and rings of switching grey rat tails that were chasing me in circles! When finally awake, I realized that the tooth rat was in my room! I lay as still as I could and waited, smiling with brazen confidence. There was a tripping sound and a thud, and the rat whispered a bad word! Mrs. Quinlan never said that tooth rats could swear! It occurred to me that the tooth rat made a pretty big thud when it fell. With creeping fear, I wondered just how big was the evil tooth rat?
It started moving again, stepping closer to my protective wall. Goosebumps ran down my arms, as fear crumbled my confidence. But, I told myself, I was safe behind my impenetrable wall. Then a shower of loud clacking sounds broke the silence – my wall was tumbling down! Scared stiff, I held my breath and prayed the monster rat was crushed by the falling blocks. After a long silence, I let out my breath, still afraid to move. Nothing. Then, a soft scratching sound started – the evil tooth rat was moving under my pillow and it was going to kill me with a poisonous rat bite! I sat up and screamed!!
The monster rat crashed to the floor and my parents ran into my room, yelling, “What’s going on here!” When the ceiling light flicked on, my father tripped and fell on the tooth rat, which started crying. The humongous, shape-changer tooth rate had morphed into my oldest brother in the light! He laid on the pile of wooden blocks under my father, with my bubble gum clutched in his left paw and my rat trap stuck to the fingers of his right! Mother climbed over both of them and pulled me into her arms and started rocking me. Father finally got up and pulled the disgusting rat monster out of my room, and father had a really, really mad look on his face. That disgusting rat monster was really gonna get it now!
I sobbed in my mother’s arms, relating the terrible drama of Tyrannosaurus Rat, who ate little children, crushed their toys, and blew exploding Bazooka bubbles that destroyed their homes and killed their families. She soothed me, stroking my hair and holding me close, and promised me that Father would make sure the tooth rat was gone for good. She said that if I went to sleep, the real tooth fairy, who was pretty and tiny and sweet and had rainbow sparkle fairy wings, would visit me tonight and make up for the other times I never got my tooth money. Cried out, exhausted, and reassured, I finally fall to sleep with my mother at my side.
When I woke up the next morning, all those horrid memories faded when I remembered what mother had promised. I quickly slipped a hand under my pillow, and there were $5.00 bills, one for each of my three baby teeth! The real tooth fairy had finally come!
I don’t know what Father did to the disgusting tooth fairy rat that awful night, and no one ever said. But the tooth rat never stole from me again!
- National Tooth Fairy Day (greetingcarduniverse.com)