Timothy bit into the apple.
Pink Lady apples were his favourite. They weren’t tart like the Granny Smith variety, or bland and boring like a Red Delicious. Pink Lady apples were, in the words of Goldilocks, just right. They were soft and juicy and had a subtle honey-like aftertaste. But there was something horribly wrong with this particular fruit he was eating. As he chewed, he tasted a salty tang mixed with the familiar sweetness, and there was something else, something bitter and metallic to his tongue, like when he sucked on pennies.
Timothy pulled the apple away from him in disgust. The bitten craggy flesh of the fruit was spattered with flecks of ruby red. A small bloody tooth was planted firmly in the Pink Lady’s skin like an explorer’s flag in newfound land after brutal battle with the natives. He spat the chewed-up pulp on the kitchen floor and ran a finger across his upper gums in alarm. One of his front teeth was missing. No. It wasn’t missing. It was in the apple.
He didn’t feel any pain, but the sight of blood made him panic.
‘Mum! Mum!’ Tim cried out.
‘What?’ She answered in a tired, half-groan from the living room.
‘My tooth! It’s come out.’
Mum came into the kitchen.
‘Let me see.’
She lifted Tim’s chin towards her and examined his open bloodied mouth.
‘Finally,’ she said, ‘I was beginning to think you were never going to lose those milk teeth.’
She ruffled his mousey hair.
‘Go rinse your mouth out and I’ll clean this mess up.’
Timothy hopped up onto the kitchen top leaving his mouth wide open all the while; he didn’t want to swallow any blood. He slurped cold water directly from the tap and spat it out, observing how the liquid turned from red to pink to clear as it circled the drain.
‘They should all begin to fall out soon,’ Mum said as she mopped the floor tiles clean, ‘You’re going to look like a jack-o-lantern for your seventh birthday.’
Timothy giggled. The thought of looking like a jack-o-lantern pleased him. Maybe he could dress up like Jack Skellington for his party.
‘You’d better clean this too.’
Mum placed the fallen tooth in Tim’s small hand. Tim scrutinised it, turning it over his palm, not quite believing that until a few minutes ago, this thing that looked like a dried up kernel of white corn, had been rooted in his gums.
‘And don’t forget to put it under your pillow before you go to bed tonight,’ Mum said with a wink. ‘Who knows, the tooth fairy might pay you a visit.’
That night, with his cleaned baby incisor tucked safely under his pillow, Timothy dreamt. He dreamt of two floating dots of light. One was green, the other red. These flamboyant fireflies whizzed by overhead performing an aerial ballet against an inky backdrop. The two dots criss-crossed and pirouetted leaving ephemeral glowing brushstrokes in their trail. Timothy watched them mesmerised. The dots drew nearer and nearer.
‘Shh! You’re going to wake him,’ the red light said.
Strange. Timothy knew this voice. It was familiar to him but Timothy was sure he hadn’t met any talking dots of light before. He wished the red light would speak some more so maybe he could identify it. The two lights dipped out of sight, and just as he was beginning to wonder where they had disappeared to, Timothy suddenly felt his head begin to rise. Up and up his head went, like a balloon floating off into the night sky never to return. It felt wonderful.
‘Don’t forget the tooth,’ the green light whispered from somewhere close by.
How odd! This voice was familiar too. He knew it intimately; he knew the face it belonged to. It belonged to …
But before he could fully grasp this enlightening thread, Timothy was falling backwards, down, down, deeper and deeper into the endless, all-encompassing ocean of darkness beneath him. The red and green lights were gone now. Timothy murmured in his sleep and drifted into peaceful nothingness.
The next morning Timothy woke up with no recollection of his fantastical nocturnal episode. He sat up and stretched his arms wide with all the exaggeration of a seasoned mime. He gave a great big yawn and felt the slumberous bedroom air rush through the sensitive exposed gap on his gums.
He flung his pillow off the bed and there, right where his head had lain in unconscious reverie, he found two shiny heptagonal silver coins. Coinage in exchange for his dead denticle. In one swift motion, he swept the silver pieces up into his palm, jumped out of bed, and bolted out of his room.
‘Mum!’ he called out on the landing. ‘The tooth fairy came while I was sleeping. Look!’
To Extinguish & Ignite the Light of Magic is a short story told over 5 episodes in Tim’s life.
Read Part 1 here.
Part 3 will be posted next week.
Special massive thanks to the amazing Cynthia Tedy for her beautiful illustrations. Please check out more of Cynthia’s work on her website here.