are all falling out again, having industriously wriggled themselves loose from my gum tissue
like the buds of tiny, struggling plants searching for sunlight. As I'm staring at my own reflection in a cracked gas station
bathroom mirror, I'm clenching my jaw shut to keep the faulty dental puzzle
from crumbling out onto my tongue in a large, clattering heap, like a spilled bag of marbles
. I stretch my lips back and forth over them, alternately revealing and hiding my desperate grimace.
I find myself first thinking that pouring a large amount of milk into my grated, shut mouth will somehow cement everything back into place, that the calcium will convince the long, slender roots of the molars to fondly and firmly embrace the gums once again. I look down at the sink; the faucet is the type with a spout like long, drooping, rusted nose, and it wears a four-budded metal knob atop itself like an antiquated hat. My doubtfulness of this being a spigot of milk keeps both my hands at my side, and I realize that there is no way to keep all my teeth together in my mouth, and eventually I will have to relax my jaw and let them all crumble out, and there's no way I can manipulate them all back into place with my tongue, and I can't leave the restroom with such a shamefully empty mouth...
I come to the understanding that I will never leave this shitty, filthy gas station bathroom; that I'll have to spit all my teeth out into the metal garbage can, and they'll ring out in a single staccato burst of noise and then I'll have to start over from scratch. Clutching my jowl tightly, still, I look back into the mirror and imagine myself in a year, living there, washing at the sink nightly and politely asking anyone who comes in if they have any teeth to spare. My voice is always is hollow and volumeless as I beg this question. In my hand, I see the meager collection I've amassed: a smallish, yellow nicotine-stained molar, a dull, flat front tooth with a metal bracket from a set of braces attached to it, and a long, bluish wolf fang with a string through it, given to me by a teenager who had worn it as a necklace.