Fiction from NER 34.1.
We’ve lost teeth, for one thing. One hundred and sixty baby teeth among us, not counting wisdom teeth. Some of them fell out easily. When they didn’t, my father gave us two options: the pliers or the door. Each choice inflicted its own particular kind of pain. The pliers bore a pain of certainty—the pain of knowing that once they were clamped down tight, the tooth would come out carefully, slowly, achingly. The door held a pain of surprise. My father would tie one end of a piece of string to the tooth and then tie the other end to a door handle. Then he would pretend to slam the door several times until he finally did it for real and the tooth would go with it. If we were lucky, the suddenness of it all would override any actual pain. I, thankfully, lost my first tooth at six while eating an apple in my parents’ bedroom.
Lisa Van Orman Hadley lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband, twins, and one-eyed cat. She graduated from the Warren Wilson M.F.A. Program for Writers and was a fellow at the Millay Colony for the Arts. She is currently working on a novel-in-stories, for which she received the Larry Levis Post-Graduate Fellowship and a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Fellowship. Her stories have been published in Knee-Jerk, Opium, and elsewhere.