At first it looked like just another rape. I know how that sounds but bear with me. Just one more sexual assault on one more anonymous, white, seventeen year old girl. The story would run for a couple weeks in the newspapers, getting shoved back a few pages at a time when more exciting news came along.
But not this time. I had no idea it was going to make me famous.
Turns out I wasn’t just another victim but a hero in the making. Ha. Me, a hero! Heroes don’t look like me, they look like my best friend Brie. Tan and toned and blonde. Perfect. I don’t fit the bill. I’m too pasty and dumpy.
I’m not photogenic enough. My pimple-ridden face has no business on the front of magazines, on computer screens across the country. I was just another unnamed girl that day, shopping at a mall with her beautiful best friend, sipping low-fat coffee.
Brie’s favorite thing to share with me besides her make-up (and she often insists I need it) are her sexual fantasies. They can be a little disturbing but like the good little friend I am, I nod my head and listen. Dominance is her thing. Role-playing. She wants burglars to break into her apartment and take her. Have their way with her. It would be, her word, “exhilarating.”
She tells me her fantasies through the steam of her latte, her lips full and bold. It’s an act, to an extent. She always makes sure the people around us can hear. She feeds on their attention, the horny, yuppie types. But you know what? I bet if it came down to it, she would hate it. Being dominated. Brie always, always, needs to be in control.
It happened faster than I can tell it. They say this always happens, during moments of pure heroism. For me, it literally occurred in the blink of an eye. I was staring at my reflection in the dirty mirror, in the filthy bathroom in the squalid mall. Brie was in a stall changing her tampon. I was so absorbed by my reflection I didn’t hear the door open.
I blinked and he was standing behind me. In the mirror, I saw his chapped lips split to reveal tiny, black nubs lined with rusty railroad tracks that must once have been braces. Cruel, dark circles rested below his insect eyes. There was no time to scream when he raised the hammer because almost instantly it was crashing down on my collar bone.
I collapsed like a felled tree to the sickly green linoleum. Disinfectant fumes floated into my sinuses. My cheek ground against the grit on the floor. From where I lay, I watched Brie’s Coach shoes disappear from sight, lifted to obscurity atop the toilet seat.
My ribs threatened to crack as the breath was pushed from my lungs by his weight. He was straddling me, and the devious smile hadn’t vanished. Gouts of fire shot through my shoulder. I was too scared to scream and in too much pain to cry.
“Open your mouth,” he said. There was a twinkle in his eye like a kid at an amusement park.
I refused. He pinched my nose shut and soon my mouth sprung open like clock-work to suck in the little air it could. I waited for him to grab me, down there.
But he didn’t. With his free hand, he grabbed a tuft of my fried, curly, brown hair.
“You little rich kids with your perfect, white teeth,” he mumbled.
Of course. I should have known.
I wasn’t in Brie’s fantasy world of sex and domination, I was in cold, dark reality. He might have wanted to hurt me, maim me, maybe even kill me, but he didn’t want to fuck me at all.
A necklace hung from his neck and hovered above my face. It was decorated with white, chicklet-looking teeth. He must have been collecting them.
“Your mouth is too crowded,” he said. “Let me help you with that.”
Skillfully, he spun the hammer around and wedged the claw end under my top front teeth. My body was trembling to the point of seizure. In one swift, upward motion he tore a tooth from my skull. The noise was the worst part, that pop. It still makes me cringe. Blood poured from my mouth and down my chin, staining my favorite sweater. It tasted metallic, and so bitter.
Electric shocks pulsed through my face. The flashes behind my eyes seemed to blind me. My fingernails curled into my palms until they broke through the skin. My attacker raised his prize in the air, inspecting it like a gemstone. He lightly kissed it and shoved it into his pocket.
I didn’t have a plan. I acted on instinct and grabbed the closest thing to me; his necklace. It tore away and scattered the teeth of strangers across the room like beads. They rolled and bounced into every corner, under the doors of the stalls. It seems I found his kryptonite because when he saw what I’d done he panicked. For a few moments he sprawled, tried to pick them all up but after a few he seemed to realize the futility of his actions, the risk he would have to take to retrieve all of the teeth. He exited the bathroom as fast as he had entered.
Brie’s feet slowly lowered to the floor again but then didn’t move. All I could hear was my own panting, the pounding of my heart. My face felt like it had been hit by lightning and all the blood on my sweater looked like syrup.
The police tracked the lunatic by identifying the teeth scattered across the bathroom. Witnesses from his past ventures came out to testify. I’ve been harassed by reporters and propositioned by movie producers that promised me fame and fortune. They dolled me up for television, until I looked better than Brie.
None of it matters though.
Being a hero isn’t as fun as it sounds. I liked being invisible. I wish I’d never met “The Tooth Fairy.” I can’t stop tonguing my new false tooth and thinking about the pain. I shudder at the memory of that psycho, him kissing the tooth that made me famous.
Dakota L. Taylor is an author and freelancer from Louisville, Kentucky. Dakota has studied the craft of fiction writing under writers such as Jack Ketchum and Craig Clevenger.
His fiction has appeared online and in print from such journals as Solarcide, Blink Ink, Surreal Grotesque, and Insomnia Press. Dakota is also a co-editor for SYW Magazine, and has contributed book reviews to various other publications. He co-hosts a literary podcast titled Books and Booze and has received a Pushcart nomination.