Tabias was told that all his adult teeth had come in.
“But there’s still a baby tooth left,” the dentist explained. That mischievous little tooth crowded his adult teeth and now he needed braces. The dreadful ‘B’ word so many classmates had fallen victim to; Joey got braces and the kid never smiled again, giving away his Halloween candy with tearful eyes.
“Dad, I can’t get braces,” Tabias said, pleading. “I’ll have even less than my half friend now.”
The complaints didn’t stop the metal gear from going into his mouth. His lips stretched too far and his tongue was dry and scratchy.
The dentist gave him a piece of paper. It said: “Don’t eat anything sticky, crunchy or chewy. No gum, licorice, candy, toffee or melty cheese. No gobstoppers, carrots, apples or candy coated peanuts. No popcorn, pretzels or potato chips. Nothing too sugary, like candy or otherwise tasty.”
Tabias crumpled the paper and threw it into the trash. He thought he heard a muffled sound as the lid dropped but he was already out the door; the dentist hollered something about soup and soggy toast behind him.
Of course, the first day back to school it happened. The cute girl sitting next to him at lunch offered to trade fruit snacks for his saltine crackers.
“No thanks,” he replied without showing his new gear. She shrugged but suddenly she smelled like fruit snacks: Sweet, chewy, juicy candy, artificially flavoured like strawberries and blueberries.
Tabias inched closer and basked in the scent. She moved away but he moved with her. “Weirdo,” she snarled and got up, leaving Tabias alone with his plain old crackers.
At recess, a teacher walked past Tabias with a bag full of licorice nibs, handing them out to children who asked politely, or voluntarily cleaned the playground.
The air was filled with the smell of his classmates eating sweets. Licorice, red fat candies, sweet yet slightly stale blue whales.
Tabias could smell every treat he imagined. He grinned. His braces glinted in the sun, and somewhere a ball fell from someone’s hand.
“Look at those teeth...” It came as a whisper at first before the kids of the playground burst into cheers.
Tabias smiled his silver toothy smile and a girl blushed next to him. Another fainted, and the teacher took a picture.
“That’s yearbook worthy, right there.”
The teacher gave Tabias a handful of soft taffy. The girl who blushed took his hand and they walked into the school.
Norma Rrae is an author based in Fort St. John. Read more of her works at notmewriting.com.