In the balmy summer night air, a shadowed figure sat motionless. As I approach, I see the person’s profile; she is looking up at the stars. It is a common activity for us, to just sit and watch the stars shining upon the grass surrounding our home for the last month. I come up and sit next to her. We sit silently for a while, then I ask, “Do you believe in the Tooth Fairy?”
I wake up to someone calling my name in a soft whisper, “Andrea, Andrea.” As I stir, I reach under my pillow and grope around for my watch. Groggily I look at the time, only ten o’clock, one hour after the girls go to bed. Sitting up, I take care not to bump my head on the low ceiling; in hindsight it wasn’t the smartest idea to take a top bunk in a cabin meant for preteens.
“What is it, Abby?” She had been getting homesick for the past couple nights, making me wonder if she is homesick again. “I lost my tooth and my mouth is bleeding!” “Oh.” My brain freezes for a second, what to do, what to do….oh yeah, wash out the blood, it’ll stop soon enough. “Ok Abby, let’s go to the bathroom so we can see your tooth.” We walk quietly out of the cabin, I don’t want to wake the other girls, it’ll be ages before we can get them back to sleep. The door creaks open, one increment at a time, until a sliver of bright yellow light falls upon the floor, just enough space for both of us to squeeze out into the center room. We walk unseen past the counselors in the center room, not that it matters; if a counselor in training can’t handle a lost tooth….In the bathroom I get Abby to open her mouth to see where her tooth came from, then wet a bit of paper towel. “Leave this over the hole till it stops bleeding a bit. Now let’s see that tooth.” I’d forgotten just how small baby teeth are. “So Abby, are you going to leave it under your pillow for the Tooth Fairy?” “No, ‘cause the Tooth Fairy doesn’t exist!” I’m surprised at that; I thought little kids tended to believe in the Tooth Fairy. “What makes you say that?” “My dad comes in as the Tooth Fairy when I’m awake flapping his arms.” Oh. That would do it. Well then. “I wouldn’t be so sure. I bet you’ll have some money under your pillow in the morning.” We go back to the cabin, once again passing the counselors. “Ok Abby, time for you to go to bed otherwise you’ll be all tired tomorrow morning. And put your tooth under the pillow and see what happens, hm?” The next morning, I wake up at five, two hours before anyone else stirs. I know I have some money stashed in a book in my luggage…now to find it. I root around my ten or so books, I really should have brought a few less…ah there it is. Let’s see…a twenty, a ten, a five, another five…don’t I have any ones??? Guess not, it’ll be a five then, lucky girl. My heart beats a little faster as I look around to make sure no one is waking up, then tiptoe next to Abby’s bunk. Carefully, carefully…slipping my hand just under her pillow, placing a five there. Oh no, she’s stirring! I quickly retreat up my bunk and attempt to calm my rapid heartbeat. Now to see what happens in the morning….well two hours anyway. Two hours later, I get up to take a shower, and when I get back, everybody is up. “So Abby, is your tooth still there?” “Yeah, and guess what!? I got SEVEN dollars!” Oh. Guess I did have some ones after all. “Really? See I told you the Tooth Fairy exists! What are you going to do with the tooth?” “Keep it till I get home then put it under my pillow for more money!” Devious kid. I like it.
On the porch, there is a pause. “So, do you believe in the Tooth Fairy?” “Does it matter if I do or not? It’s not like I have any more teeth to lose.” “No it doesn’t. Just wondering.”
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