This story is dedicated to Brenda. Thanks for sharing your RL story with me and allowing me to get an idea from it. Hope this doesn't disappoint. :o)
By Audrey W.
December 24, 1975
Christopher DeSoto sat in the back seat of the station wagon as his family traveled to his grandparents’ house in Northern California. The seven-year-old boy fiddled with one of his front upper teeth in his mouth, wiggling it. He’d recently lost his other front tooth, and this one had been loose for over a week.
Jennifer watched out the window beside her, holding a baby doll she’d named Caroline up to the glass. “See the houses all decorated?” The five-year-old asked. The lights on homes weren’t lit as it was early in the day, but the other kind of decorations like plastic Santas and reindeer, large candy cane posts lining driveways, and trees in the yards with garland on them were very visible. “Aren’t they pretty?”
Joanne sang quietly with the Christmas carols on the radio as Roy kept his attention on the busy holiday traffic.
Suddenly Chris gasped and put his left hand to his mouth, his right hand in his lap.
Joanne turned slightly in her seat. “What’s wrong, Chris?”
Roy was trying to get a quick peek in the rear view mirror.
“My tooth! It fell out!”
“Ewwwww, yuck!” Jenny yelled.
It was then the mother noticed a little blood on her son’s right fingers, the now free tooth in his hand. She reached in her purse and pulled out a Kleenex. “Here, wipe off your hand with this. Is your mouth still bleeding?”
“A little,” he mumbled, taking his left hand down. He opened his mouth so that his mom could see.
Jennifer sat staring at her brother, wondering what it felt like to lose teeth, but not really wanting to know. After all, her time was approaching and she wasn’t looking forward to it.
Joanne had to smile. She’d missed her children’s toothless grins they had as babies and now with the huge gap in Chris’s mouth with his two front teeth out, she was getting a chance to enjoy a somewhat toothless appearance again.
“Can we go back home?” he asked.
“What for?” Roy was glancing between the road ahead and his son in the rearview mirror.
“”Cause, I look dumb.”
“No you don’t,” Joanne assured.
“Uh huh. I don’ want grandpa to see me like this.”
“Well, it’s gonna take awhile for your new teeth to grow in,” she explained. “You don’t want to miss Christmas Eve with your grandparents. This is the first chance in three years that we've been able to share the holiday with them since they lived out of state until last Spring. And what about your grandma’s birthday next month? You want to be there for that.”
“It’s gonna take that long?”
“Chris, you’ve been through this with your other teeth. You know it took awhile for them to grow back in,” Roy said.
“Yeah, Dad, but they were littler holes! Now I’ve got one huge one!”
“I think someone’s gonna be wishing for his two front teeth for Christmas,” Joanne said quietly to Roy.
He nodded. “I’ve got an idea.” A little louder he continued, “Hey, don’t forget you get more money from the Tooth Fairy for the front teeth. So doesn’t that help to make it a little better?”
“Yeah, but I don’ like lookin’ goofy in front of everyone.” He folded his arms across his chest and pouted, looking out the passenger window. Tears formed in his eyes, spilling onto his cheeks.
Joanne noticed and mouthed to her husband, ‘He’s really upset’.
After two and a half hours on the road, the DeSotos arrived at the grandparents’ house. As they got out of the car, Roy and Joanne noticed Chris kept his door shut, with no plans of joining them. Jennifer was already out and running to Betty and William, Joanne’s mother and father. Her doll, Caroline, lay already forgotten on the seat.
“Gramma, Gramma!” The little girl hollered as she reached out to Betty. The two hugged tight, then Jennifer did the same with her grandfather. The older man gave a questioning look to Joanne as Roy stepped over to open Chris’s door.
“Chris is gonna be toofless,” Jenny explained.
“Not toothless,” her mother corrected. She watched Roy trying to coax the boy out. “He’s ashamed of the gap losing his two upper front teeth made and doesn’t want you to see it.”
William nodded. He had an idea how he might be able to help.
Roy opened the car door and squatted down. “C’mon, slugger. You’re gonna hafta get out sooner or later.”
“I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry and the food’s inside waiting for us. We take too long, and Grandma Betty is gonna be putting it away for leftovers.”
“But, Dad,” Chris whined. “My mouth even *feels* funny. ‘Sides, how’m I gonna bite anything?”
“With your side teeth.” Roy stood up and reached out a hand. “Now, c’mon. Betty and William just want to see *you*. They don’t care if you’re short a few teeth.”
Christopher knew it was a losing argument. He slowly swung his legs to the side of the seat and slid off. Frowning, hands in jean pockets, he followed behind his dad.
“Hi, Roy,” Betty said, giving him a brief hug. The paramedic could tell that she still wasn’t overly fond of him. No matter what he did, she always came across like he could do more for her daughter than he already was. William, on the other hand, was very proud of his son-in-law.
“Well, good to see you again,” the older man said, reaching out with his right hand. Roy exchanged a firm handshake with him. Christopher gave each grandparent a hug, not once opening his mouth to smile. “So, you ready for Christmas?” William asked him. When a mumbled reply through nearly closed lips came, he winked at Roy and Joanne. “Guess that was a yes.”
As the group headed into the ranch style house, Roy gave his wife a shrug. Chris was just going to have to come around on his own.
After a short time inside, the family sat down in the dining room to a ham dinner with all the trimmings. Cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, mixed vegetables, rolls and a Jello salad. Joanne and Roy had brought a homemade apple pie that they’d all have a piece of later.
Roy watched Chris eat, amazed that he was actually managing to do it without opening his mouth very far. He’d take a very small piece of food and only open wide enough for it to go in, chewing with his mouth completely closed.
“At least it’s keeping him polite,” the paramedic whispered to his wife beside him. Both parents couldn’t help but smile. Chris was really working at keeping the gap within his mouth hidden.
When dinner was done, William sat back in his chair and sighed. “Betty, that was a splendid meal. I could stand to run around the block to work some of it off.”
Roy nodded in agreement as he took a swig of coffee. “It was great.”
“Thank you.” She looked at Chris and Jennifer. “Did you kids get enough to eat?”
“Oh, yes!” The little girl answered. Chris just said, “Mmm hmmm.”
Seemed nothing was going to work to get the boy to open his mouth.
While the ladies cleared the table and put the leftovers away, the others sat in the livingroom watching television. William tilted his recliner back and cleared his throat, making sure to get his grandson’s attention. When he saw he had it, the man pulled out his upper dentures. “I guess I don’t need these for now.”
Chris’s mouth dropped open in shock when he saw that his grandfather now had no teeth except the lower ones. It made his problem seem a whole lot smaller. Roy smiled. He knew what William was doing and figured he’d explain false teeth to his son later.
"Grandpa, you're gonna be rich!" Chris exclaimed. "Just think how much money the Tooth Fairy’ll give you when you put all those teeth under your pillow!”
The rest of the afternoon and evening was more relaxed. Christopher was his old self again, going on and on about school and hobbies with a smile on his face. As they all listened to the youngster, William gave Roy and Joanne a wink. Chris wasn’t getting his two front teeth for Christmas, but he’d gotten an early present that was valuable. His grandfather had shown him that missing a few teeth wasn't so bad. And the boy appreciated having the remainder of his still intact, though the idea of extra money from the Tooth Fairy was a nice thought.
As they were getting ready to leave at the end of the day, Roy noticed his son seemed a bit preoccupied and not very happy. "Something wrong?"
“I just hope after giving Grandpa all that money, the Tooth Fairy has some left over for me,” Chris replied as he got in the car and shut the back door.
Roy shook his head and smiled. Kids. . .
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