by Michael C. Keith
Some tortures are physical
And some are mental
But the one that is both
Amanda was new to Parkside Elementary and Stephen had paid little attention to her until she stood up to answer a question put to the class. It was then that he was struck by the extraordinary size of her shiny white incisors. She’s goofy looking, he thought, trying hard not to laugh out loud. He could tell from the expression on the faces of his fellow classmate’s that they were equally amused.
Was it possible that her giant front teeth would keep growing and eventually overtake her chin? If they did, how would she eat? She couldn’t get anything past them. But then beavers eat, so maybe she could if that happened, contemplated Stephen, turning in his seat to get a closer look at her.
At recess, everyone gathered around Amanda and taunted her. Toothy Girl . . . stupid Toothy Girl, chanted the third graders, and the new girl began to whimper and rock back and forth. This only encouraged some of the boys to mimic her and make funny noises, like fart sounds. Most of the girls drifted away, but Stephen and his friends kept at it.
Suddenly Stephen began to feel sorry for her because of the pain in her eyes. It reminded him of the time he told his sister that he hated her when she ate the last of his malted milk balls. That look had haunted him, because there was no one he loved more than his younger sibling. He told his friends to stop, but they didn’t listen. The biggest member of the group picked up a stick and waved it threateningly.
“Hey, don’t hit her, Brian! You’ll get in trouble. She’s a girl,” warned Stephen, but the boy struck Amanda on the arm, causing her to give out an ear-splitting wail.
Just as Brian was about to strike her again, she lunged at him and tore at his throat like a rabid animal. This surprised everyone so much that no one moved. Seconds after Amanda stopped chomping at her erstwhile attacker, the principal, Mr. Channing, arrived on the scene. He went to where Brian was slumped and saw two large depressions on the boy’s neck. The wounds were surprisingly bloodless considering their depth.
“Who did this? Tell me right now!” shouted Mr. Channing, as he helped the victim to his feet.
“It was Toothy Girl!” shouted everyone, pointing to Amanda standing several feet away.
“What . . . Toothy who?”
“She did it,” offered Brian, rubbing at his neck but otherwise appearing okay.
“Amanda . . . over there,” added Stephen, no longer feeling sorry for the girl. “She bit him with those creepy teeth.”
“You did this, young lady?” asked the principal, moving to where she lurked in the building’s shadow.
“He hit me with that stick,” replied Amanda, pointing to the assault weapon on the ground.
“You did that, Brian? Why would you do that? Shame on you for hitting a girl.”
The boy shrugged unrepentantly and glared at his assailant, who returned his expression with one of equal contempt.
“She was like a crazy animal when she bit him,” said Stephen.
“Shush up!” grumbled Mr. Channing. “Such bad behavior. It won’t be tolerated.”
A bell rang indicating that recess was over, and the principal said he would be looking into the matter further but for now everyone was to return to class. When the school day ended without additional questioning about the ruckus in the playground, Stephen and his friends were relieved.
“Let’s get Toothy Girl,” suggested Brian when they left the school grounds, but Stephen held back while several other boys followed Amanda as she headed home. A couple blocks from the school, they called out to her with a volley of nasty epithets. Amanda stopped in her tracks and slowly turned toward them.
“Hey!” shouted Brian, “You gonna try to bite us with your big, ugly teeth, Beaver Face?”
“No, I’m not, but my brothers will,” replied Amanda, defiantly.
Just then three very large boys with the same amazing overbite as their little sister emerged from around the corner. Before Brian and his friends had a chance to react, Amanda’s brothers had descended on them pressing their enamel tusks into their necks.
Days later Brian and his companions noticed that their front teeth had grown, and within a week their length had even exceeded Amanda’s. When the boys were taken to their respective dentists, no explanation for the sudden dramatic increase in the size of their teeth was determined.
At school, Amanda’s former tormenters were made fun of, but she didn’t join in the name-calling. Instead, she just shot them a fierce look followed by a lightning-like flick of her long black tongue. When Stephen saw this, he decided that she’d be better to have as a friend than an enemy.
Michael C. Keith teaches college and conjures tales. Visit his website at http://www.michaelckeith.com/.