Tabias was told all his adult teeth had come in. “But there’s still a baby tooth left,” the dentist had explained. That naughty little tooth crowded his adult teeth, and now he needed braces. The dreadful ‘B’ word so many classmates had fallen to. Joey got braces, and the kid never smiled again. Giving away his Halloween candy on November 1st with tearful eyes.
“Dad, I can’t get braces,” Tabias retorted, “I’ll have even less than my half friend now.”
The complaints didn’t stop the metal gear going into his mouth. His lips stretched too far, and his tongue 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 can. He thought he heard a muffled sound as the lid dropped, but he was already out the door. The dentist was hollering 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 smelt like fruit snacks. Sweet, chewy, juicy candy artificially flavored like strawberries and blueberries. He 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 crackers.
At recess, a teacher walked past him with a bag full of licorice nibs. He was handing them out to children that asked politely or cleaned the playground voluntarily. The air was filled with the smell of his classmates eating sweets. Licorice, red fat candies, sweet yet slightly stale blue whales. He could smell every treat he imagined. Tabias grinned. His braces glinted in the sun; somewhere, a ball fell from someone’s hand.
“look at those teeth,” a whisper at first before the kids of the playground burst into cheering.
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 that had blushed took his hand, and they walked into the school.