This flash fiction by Tianna Jordening appears in The Roots Issue of Popshot Quarterly. Illustration by Joy Alicia Raines
When they extract the root, they will find bits and phrases, syllables and sentiments my teeth never let pass my lips. Each molar and incisor is a bar clamped shut against my tongue. Every inhibition stored safely in my gums. And despite the anaesthesia, I swear I feel the crack. The moment these thoughts are freed of me.
The tooth clinks like an instrument when it hits the metal tray. This one reads ve me. And the dentist stares at it. Like he can see it too, and is trying to decipher the meaning.
It is a mere scratch at first. It was that time, remember? When we met at that bakery on Fifth and you were late. Once I saw you coming up the sidewalk, I didn’t mind. Your knuckles framed your pockets like jewels in a crown. We shared a blueberry muffin. You devoured my half while I marvelled at the crumbs on your lips. And I sipped my green tea because you couldn’t stand the taste of coffee on my breath, and I would have given anything to mingle every exhale with yours. The love me written in every gesture, every inflection of my voice but never exposed to oxygen. Stored safely, fermenting in a sealed jar.
Who’s to say where the letters begin to rewrite themselves, but what once barely scratched enamel now bares the nerve raw. If I could trace it with my finger, the smell of vodka on your breath would hit the back of my throat first. Then comes the collapse of your weight on the bed, the demand of your palms, and the silent plea that goes unanswered.
The leave me alone.
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