Sharing Teeth

Too strange, too strange she is to share this body with me. She’s like a kid, only overgrown, with gawky limbs and skinned knees, her hair, filled with spiders, drifting across her face as if she were perpetually underwater. Her eyes are like eggs: too large for her head, protruding from her skull, with no lids to flap shut. And she has no sense about her—no reason, no reservations, no shock or humility to keep her grinning mouth shut. I will make anything possible, she whispers to me in the hallway, between commercials, from the back seat. That’s why we fight: she runs away midsentence, knocking over lamp stands and leaving the milk out on the kitchen counter, flaunting her irresponsibility like it’s a good thing.

She is an adversary to my everyday life. She wakes me up to look out the windows at nighttime, delights in the orange glow of the city. Then she drags me into sleep to show me pictures. This is a car crash, this is an antler, this is a chemistry set, this is a china doll’s arm, this is a liver, and she grins as the colors smear and blend and blacken until all I see are her teeth. I feel my feet twitch, and then I am awake, her gaping teeth pressing hard against my tongue, pushing to come out.

It’s exhausting when she gets like this: impetuous youth, pulling my hair and wrapping her bony body around my calf, tugging at my pant leg, I have something for you, and it’s so beautiful you really should see... I believe her, I do, most of the time. But sometimes it’s too much, these things she has for me. They keep me awake, stir in my blood until I can’t focus on the road or tie my shoes. Immobilizing, that’s what she is, just like a child. You’re such a kid, I tell her, just fucking grow up, grow your own tongue and leave mine alone. When I tell her this, when I ball my fists and roll my eyes, she threatens me like a jealous lover: Treat me this way and see what will happen, see how long I will stay. See how much you love your precious peace when I am gone, how long you’ll love the stars without me...

We manage a strange coexistence: I drive down the street with her riding shotgun on my shadow, her clammy fingers caught in my belt loops. And she’s right—I wait for her. When I stumble into the night, she will be there, squatting on the lawn with her skirts bunched immodestly around her hips. She will dig in the dirt with a stick or a fork, giggling as she unearths bugs and bones. That’s what it is, that eating, that eating inside me—her teeth, gnashing and smiling bold.


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