My people once lived in castles as white as pearls, with great ivory towers, and spires that drilled into the clouds. We rode lifts on floss cables over waterfalls of twinkling blue paste, and rivers of green antiseptic.
Every surface of our fortress had a healthy gleam. There were no stains, cracks, or cavities. We all did our part to keep it that way. Adults fitted their shoes with bristles and glided across milky walkways. Children rode mint sleds down streets paved with bone. Jolly chimney sweepers cleaned the plaque from the gutters.
We danced beneath the long sharp roots that lined our roofs without fear of them ever falling.
The kingdom was sturdy. The infrastructure was strong, because we had a steady supply of the mineral our society was built upon.
I was a human ivory dealer (or Tooth Fairy if you prefer). My job was to procure the precious commodity we needed to fortify our city, and leave a sufficient payment for those who supplied the materials.
Ours was a trade-dependent economy. Fairy folk paid for goods and services with smiles, hugs, and songs, but for some goofy reason humans wouldn’t accept positive sentiments as payment. We had to investment in their markets so that we could pay for what we needed.
At first I left quarters beneath pillows, until the human children left notes requesting dollars. At first this made sense. The value of teeth had gone up to match inflation, but then it skyrocketed by another 200%. The children became aware of their bargaining power and requested $20 a tooth.
Then the human markets crashed and our liquid assets evaporated.
Without a fresh supply of teeth the kingdom’s towers, bridges, and stairways turned yellow, then brown, then black. The maintenance workers crowned what they could. The crop dusters showered fluoride from the sky, but still a festering odor wafted off of every surface. A great decay had set in.
Castles collapsed with half of the realm inside them. Chandeliers burst across the dining halls. Bicuspid bricks hailed onto every courtyard. The sparkling gardens, with their wreaths of white, were pounded into sand.
There were star-shaped wands, curved slippers, and tiaras everywhere.
Everyone knew someone who’d been lost in the devastation. There were not enough calcium grains to make gravestones. We planted the names in seeds and reaped them when we wanted to read who was buried there, which we seldom did. There was too few of us left to morn the dead.
Humanity had stopped believing in fairies.
Tooth Fairy was Once a Prestigious Title
All the sprites I grew up with were so jealous when I was accepted into the Ivory Academy in Dentington.
Ivory dealing was a task for the most upbeat of the Fairy Folk. Fairies are born with a natural spring in our steps. Tooth Fairies were expected to have trampolines in theirs. We had to learn how to cut onions without letting a single tear hit the ground. We had to learn how to make our eyes smile while we forced frowns. We had to learn to sing and walk on hot coals at the same time.
We were expected to have two layers of dimples minimum, laughter so high it could cut glass, and bright eyes that glowed in the dark.
Each graduate of the Ivory Academy came out with a resting bliss face.
If fairies were entering children’s homes we had to be able to put them at ease if they woke up and found us flying over them. Human children are predisposed to have hostile nocturnal visitations. If they caught us in their room we had to let them know that we were one of the good ones.
That’s why our pageantry was so important. We used to sprinkle our wings in golden leaves, tie our hair up in a rainbow palette of ribbons, and smear glitter across our cheeks.
We had so much fun.
This was before the scarcity, before the Department of Calcium Conservation, and the canine quotas. Before Ivory Dealers had to resort to poaching.
A Night in the Life
When I was a Toothy Fairy I clocked in around 7PM and returned to the Fairy Kingdom before midnight. Most children had to get up for school in the morning. When the source of our supply shifted I found myself going to work at Midnight and getting off at 4 in the morning. This was when mouths were bigger, tongues were looser, and teeth were riper for the taking.
The twinkling trail that once led us to children’s bedrooms was taking us to a new part of town. The route shifted from the quant neighborhoods with their friendly lawn gnomes and lush green gardens, to the downtown districts with their toothpick flicking bouncers, over-serving bartenders, and panty dropping public urinators.
Gone were the rows of stuffed animals at the end of children’s beds. They’d been replaced with rows of shot glasses. Gone were the music boxes with their dancing ballerinas. They’d been replaced with dubstep DJs and cage dancers in sequined hot pants. Gone were the night lights shaped like bunny rabbits. They’d been replaced with towers of monitors playing kaleidoscope video FX.
I wasn’t happy with the transition. Who would be, trading their elegant pink ballgown for a halter top and leather miniskirt? Gone were my long blue eyelashes, neon green pigtails, and heart-shaped lipstick. My clothes, eyeshadow, and hair had gone black and my cheeks were caked in white. My vibrant ensemble had gone greyscale.
Worse still I had to wear a headband with two slits to hide my pointy ears in. They were red and throbbing every time I took it off. Even when the irritation passed there was a crease in my skin from where the headband had been.
The Department of Calcium Conservation assured me the makeover was necessary. Imagine how sad I was to discover they were right.
At the start of my first shift I paid for my drink with leaves glamoured to look like money. By the end of the night I realized that was no longer necessary. Drinks were appearing in front of me.
I was once adored by rosy cheeked children in footy pajamas, now I attracted hulks wearing sleeveless shirts with barbed wire designs that connected the tattoos on their biceps. I enticed vapor huffers lathered in toner with grease in their hair. I lured entire packs in popped collars wearing sun visors indoors.
I was surrounded by men with feathers peeking out of their hatbands, watch faces the size of coins, and the gold chains. My nostrils filled with beer battered breath, cheap cologne, and pungent puke. My ears tuned to the screeching of chairs, cracking of knuckles, and shattering of glass.
I was learning that humans were only cute when they were young. They grew into neurotic creatures with thin skins who raised their fists at the first sign of humiliation. My new job require me to be there when they showed their fangs, so I could take them.
The New Paranormal
Pixie dust gives children the gift of flight, so long as they think happy thoughts. Trixie dust, on the other hand, sends adults into violent fits at the mention of any negative notion. One palm full of the stuff was enough to start a riot. That’s why I only kept a smidgen in my locket.
I’d survey the bar until I’d narrowed down the two biggest creeps. If a man slapped my ass as I passed he became a candidate. If a man called me a “rude bitch” for cutting our conversation short he became a candidate. With my nominees selected I’d pit one against the other: a target and a victim.
I’d dab some trixie dust on my finger and coat the rim of my target’s glass, wait for him to take a good long swig, let the trixie dust seep into his system, and watch for signs that his adrenal glands were opening.
The arcs of the target’s eyebrows flattened and the bridge of his nose filled with wrinkles. His eyes narrowed and his pupils turned to coals. His nostrils flared, his lips thinned, and his underbite pushed forward.
These micro-expressions were signals for me to get into position. All I had to do was touch my target’s wrist, flutter my eyelashes, and whisper something like:
“That guy right there just ashed into your beer. At least I think it was ash. It looked kind of white.”
“Did you sit in anything? No? Well, that guy keeps elbowing his friend, eying the back of your jeans. I figured he saw a stain or something.”
“You should watch your phone because that guy just put it down his pants, took a picture, and texted it to your mom. He was telling everyone.”
In this case I’d snatch the target’s phone beforehand, slip it under the table, and take a a blurry picture of my finger.
“That guy just wrote his number on a napkin and slid it to your girlfriend.”
This one was an oldie but a goodie.
“Does that anchor tattoo mean you’re in the navy? It does? Then you should stay clear of that marine over there. He’s keeps telling his friends that all squids are pussies.”
I wouldn’t let go of my target’s wrist until I felt their pulse rising, saw their skin reddening, and felt their fist hardening.
Sometimes they’d need an extra push to get their blood boiling.
“That guy just slid a condom into your girlfriend’s back pocket and smacked it.”
And then they were off, bounding across the club with their knuckles primed. My fighter would lift my victim up by the collar and start pounding.
If I was unlucky the fighter gave his victim a right hook to the jaw, knocking him out in one hit. Then I’d have to slide my fingers into the victim’s mouth and start wiggling teeth. Pound on them all you like, but those stubborn molars just want to stay in there (and don’t even get me started on wisdom teeth).
I often had to reach for the pliers hidden in my belt buckle.
If I was lucky my fighter would be so blinded with rage that he’d aim for the center of his victim’s face. The victim would buckle and their teeth would spill out like coins from a slot machine. I’d skip away with both the upper lower incisors.
Most nights I got lucky.
I’d set down my pool cue, lick my finger, and hold it in the air. Somehow I just knew that it was about to start raining bones.
Half the time I didn’t even bother exerting my influence. A fight would get going before I could even reach for my locket. One target would spill another’s drink, scuff his shoe, or graze his shoulder. Those were fighting gestures. Entire entourages went to war, while I laid on the floor with my hands open, filling my palms with those pearly whites.
I was no longer a Tooth Fairy, not in the sense that I helped toddlers mature into adolescents. No, I was a Fight Fairy, I helped grown men degenerate into adolescence.
Enterprising children had gotten greedy with their baby teeth. Now I was relying on the charity of their adult equivalents.
It was for the greater good. If humanity wouldn’t trade their teeth willingly, I had to coax them out. The drunken parade was my hunting trail and my prey was whoever roared the loudest. I ignored those who lagged behind the herd. It was the ones who howled at the moon that were fair game.
Allow me to switch tenses from past to present to future.
The Department of Calcium Conservation does not want you to know any of this. We Fairy Folk are long past the point where we need humanity to believe we exist. I’m only telling you because I feel guilty taking your fangs without giving you a proper warning: teeth are a privilege not a right.
If you go around looking for a fight just know there’s an entire civilization waiting to melt down your mouth’s contents and transform them into a sculpture (something tasteful like a cherub peeing into a fountain).
If your natural instinct is to shout “faggot” at a group of guys across the street, know there’s a good chance you’ll wake up in an alley with your gums scraped clean.
Trixie dust has a way of supercharging weaklings. Pick a fight with a shrimp and he might just leave you needing dentures.
Remember this: we Fight Fairies are out there, collecting teeth to restore our kingdom, and we’ll always need more of them. Be nice or you could end up being one of our donors.