TEETH by Izabella Grace (alternate version)

You find me in the attic, barefoot and crouched beside the crumpled, brown envelope. Moonlight streaks the uneven boards, glistening like water on the scattered, nude photographs of Mia. You step towards them, reaching for my beautiful, missing, older sister, but I uncurl my trembling fingers. You stare at the silver thumb ring and mound of teeth nestled in my palm. Then you open your deceiving mouth, but no words spill out, only a ragged sigh.

“You killed her,” I whisper.

“Don’t be stupid.”

You lunge, dark eyes wild pools, soft lips twisting. I snap shut my fist, tight as an oyster around a black pearl, and run, leaping down the ladder and stairs. You grab my ponytail. I kick your shin. You slam my head against the wooden bannister. I groan and sink my teeth into your pale wrist.

You block the front door, so I dart into the living room, twist the key and throw open the French windows. You chase me across the cool, damp grass.You gain speed, slamming into my back and stealing my breath. You flip me, wrenching and cracking my fingers. I buck, try to bite again, but your elbow slams into my mouth. I cry out, blood and rage coppery on my tongue.

Mia’s teeth fall. Her serpent ring winks in moonshine, then bounces into shadow.

“I never touched her,” you hiss. “I wasn’t even here. Ask the police. I was at a dental conference, in London, the night she disappeared.”

Your lies tumble onto the fragrant lawn, melting it, scorching it black, blacker than a moonless, starless night. The ground oozes and swirls into yawning vortexes, which vomit tall trees with ebony leaves that suck in all light. You ripple and fade into creeping fog.

I claw at the thick, gnarled trunks, but bark-covered fingers rip my skin and gouge out my eyes. Warm wetness slicks my cheeks, and terror swallows me. Then Mia calls my name, her voice drifting in snatches, echoing and fracturing into tinkling shards. I spin in circles, straining to place her, straining to catch the slightest sound. I stumble forwards, brambles scratching, nettles biting.

Following the slender trail of Mia’s whispers, I wander through perpetual night. My cotton pyjamas rot, and my flesh withers. My throat clogs with the miasma of decay, my bones grow brittle and my limbs knot like the swollen roots in the dank, fetid earth. Despair drinks from my veins. Hope dwindles to grey ashes.

Mia sings of blood and vengeance. She weaves words into war-torn tapestries that flicker and dance before my sightless eyes. Her rage flows in the tainted waters of the brooks, seething and bubbling over flat, speckled stones. Her hatred gusts with the cruel wind. Her anguish spreads like a plague, burrowing deep within the earth, causing it to roar and shake.

I fall onto my knees, and my hands collide with something hard and oval. I explore it with my fingertips: the dented cranium, the empty eye sockets, the toothless, grinning mouth.

Mia.

I hug her skull. She sighs the cloying scent of lilies.

Fury feasts on my innards, and I spew curses. I yank out my teeth, one by one, then stick them in the cold ground, where they chatter and chew on the humus and roots. The trees hiss and creak, mutter and slap, but my teeth munch huge holes in their branches. My molars crunch on leafy twigs. My eyeteeth gnaw on rough bark and become sharp as knives.

As the gargantuan trees topple, and tiny diamonds of starlight rain onto soft earth, my bone white army marches into the house.
Your screams wrinkle the velvety darkness.

I smile and dip my fingers into my warm, blood-soaked mouth. Then I draw eyes on my palms and the calloused soles of my feet.

§

photomagic_jpgIzabella Grace grew up in London and now lives in rural Ireland. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Flash Fiction Online, Cease, Cows, Every Day Fiction, Youth Imagination, 365 Tomorrows, Black Denim Lit and elsewhere. You can find her in the local cafe, scribbling in a battered notebook, or on Twitter @iza8ella.

 

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