15 More Stories from the Oak

Gnawing Ivories

Day 120- Gnawing Ivories

The smile was what you would notice first. It was warm, it was sunny. It reached your eyes first, with sparkling teeth. They were like pebbles, bleached white by the constant motion of water over them. Those pebbles in the streams, they are tossed and turned around, and carried from one place to another with no control over their hurtling bodies. She was that way. The only thing she had control over was that skin she wore, and those sparkling teeth. Truly, they were a work of art. Perhaps she brushed them diligently every day. Perhaps she woke up in the morning just so that she could look in the mirror and see them winking back at her in the soft feel of the morning.

When you first saw her, it seemed that the world was going her way. I imagine her like that sunlight directly after a cloud has passed. It is a bright day, but there are clouds in the sky. Then you look around and everything looks dull, and it is because a large cloud has obscured the day. You don’t notice the onset of the black, but the reappearance of sunlight is apparent and stark.

So she was like that. Like a girl who had things in her back pocket that she knew and you didn’t.

I said hello, and I smiled. Soon after I opened my mouth to copy my gesture, I stopped short and hid my teeth again. Mine were yellow, and too sharp at the edges. Good for chewing, bad for spewing. Instead, I had the edges of my lips fly upwards. My eyebrows mimicked the motion.

It was as if she didn’t even see me. Her teeth continued to sprinkle joy and relief, and I continued to stare diligently at them. That was the danger though, I see it now. She soon walked past me, and I was left staring at the darkened places left in my field of vision.

They say staring into the sun too long can make you blind. I didn’t believe them, so I stared into the sun, because I was certain there was some sort of beautiful object to be seen. Everybody was going to miss it, and me, I was going to catch it and tell everyone of my cleverness.

A few days into my determined adventure I gave up. Instead of seeing something beautiful, all I could see when I blinked was a black hole in the middle of my vision.Gaping and guffawing at my foolishness. That’s what I thought it did. So I stopped staring at the sun. And staring at her teeth was like staring at that round circular object.

I’ve said once, I’ll say it again: that was the mistake. Thinking back a few days later I realized that I had not the slightest idea what her face looked like. Not her hands either, or her feet. But most starkly, her eyes were blank to me. I didn’t meet her or see her. I just met her teeth, and even those now were just dark splotches of memory, fading fast into dervishes of dust.

It wasn’t until later that I had the chance to meet the woman I had once knew intimately through the white pillars between her lips. It was when I looked up, and saw her. Looked into her eyes, this time. She cried to me. That was when I knew, that everybody just looked at her big blazing glory of ivory. They didn’t see the small globules of water forming just as the tips of her eyes. As she passed with her bright beaming, I smiled again. With my teeth. I showed her my yellow ugly teeth that looked like an old man’s fingernails. I was proud. I was proud, because she looked at them, and quickly looked into my eyes. And there she stayed, as a little dash on my pupil. Her teeth stayed black dots of nothing. My smile stayed haunting. I laughed a short guffaw.

Maybe now she knows what happiness is all about.

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