The Tooth Fairy Apprentice
by Michelle Nott
Tooth Fairy fluttered in with such grace, no one could say she was a day over 150. Her dress was made of the finest rose petals. And her wand - with every good deed, it shone brighter and brighter. If only we could be as well-traveled, well-read, and refined as she...
Tooth fairies are the only ones anyone talks about these days. I thought about being a sea fairy, but there is such a rivalry with mermaids. I thought about being a desert fairy, but I have very dry wings and all that heat wouldn't help. I also thought of being a spring fairy, but I have allergies. A fairy allergic to pollen - what luck!
Dentitia approached me one day to talk about what kind of fairy I was trying to be. It was a particularly bad day when I had lost my wand for more than the fifth time. I also put too much fairy cream on my left wing, which just held me down. I flew in circles all day.
After moonlight meal, Dentitia pulled her acorn chair over to mine and said she had something important to talk to me about.
What had I done now?
“My wings are starting to wrinkle. I don't fly the way I used to. I probably only have another few summers before I won’t be able to work anymore.”
I looked into her eyes and saw happy tears, the sweet-smelling kind, starting to swell.
She continued, “I believe I have found my replacement and would need to start training her as soon as possible.”
I asked who she had chosen.
My eyes almost popped like sunflower seeds.
She explained, “You have the sensibility and intelligence to be great. You will just need to learn geography and languages. You will then be able to feel and dream your way around the world.”
I don't know anything about teeth, I admitted.
“I'll teach you.”
But I don't know how to turn them into fairy dust, I insisted.
“I will show you.”
So, for the next several full moons, Dentitia flew by my side. We flew to the tops of forests, to the tops of mountains, to the tops of skyscrapers...and she never stopped talking!
At night, I lied on my petals under the skies, looking up at my lucky stars. Thank you, my heart pounded. I was on my way to becoming the next Tooth Fairy. I wanted to burst out the news all the way to the sunset.
“But, it is still your choice.” Dentitia held my hand one day. We were resting on a hanging leaf. The morning sun hung straight above us. “You have mastered your wand and weather patterns but there is still much to learn. If by the end of the next full moon, you decide you would not enjoy being a tooth fairy, you still have time to train for another role.”
For many sunrises, I tried to envision myself doing anything other than being a tooth fairy...
A medicinal fairy? No, back to the allergy problem.
A food fairy? I do like to gather grains. But, no, I like to eat twice as much. My wings would eventually never hold me.
An animal fairy? Not after the time the farmer's pig sniffed me into his nose.
What then? I pulled out a twig, dipped it in a blueberry and wrote down all my strengths. I wanted to see just what I must have been blossomed out to do.
Kind. Patient. Love children. Have good handwriting. Know North from South from East from West. Can speak three languages other than Fairy Secrets (English, Irish, Welsh) and am learning French.
A swift breeze woke me from my thoughts. Teacher Fairy's wind chime clinked and rang the end of the school day.
I flew over the stream, past the cattails and under the willow tree where I found Tooth Fairy. She was polishing last night's teeth. I had thought she turned them all into fairy dust.
“No, dear, only the brightest, purest, with no cavities are good enough for fairy dust. As for the others, I take out their fillings, clean them, shine them and make jewelry, dishes or sculptures.”
Tooth Fairy did have beautiful pearly necklaces and porcelain-white plates and bowls. On her bark coffee table, she had a uniquely-formed sculpture.
Was it the silhouette of a shadow?
“That is my prize-possession. One hundred fifty years ago, during my training, the Tooth Fairy had offered me this work of art. She had sculpted it from the very first tooth she'd found.”
It was lovely but I wasn’t sure what it was.
“It is to remind me of how to be gracious and kind, to value my work and the children for giving me their teeth.”
Children lose their teeth naturally. What else would they do with them?
“When the first baby tooth falls out, the child begins to grow out of babyhood. The children give a part of themselves away.”
Wow! I want to do this.
“I knew you would,” Tooth Fairy smiled.
Three moons later, all of my fairy community, my friends and my parents joined me with the Tooth Fairy under the willow tree.
“My years are long, but my smile is grand. My wings are wrinkled, but my wand shines on. I called you here tonight to present to you … the new Tooth Fairy! May you encourage her and keep her strong.”
Mother Fairy wiped a tear, the sweet-smelling kind, from her cheek and blew it to me. Father Fairy held his pointy chin high and winked at me. After a toast of elder berry juice, Tooth Fairy gave me a package wrapped in a purple rose petal.
“Please, open it when you get home. I am leaving for a journey as soon as the sun shines me on my way. I will miss you.” She blew me a kiss. From the palm of my hand, I placed it on my cheek.
Everyone flew and danced until the rooster opened one eye. Then in a flutter, the meadow was clear. I fluffed my grass-stuffed pillow and sat on my bed. I held the gift in between my folded knees and placed the rose petal on my nightstand. My cheek laid down on the smooth, white sculpture.
My heart beamed, "Thank you, all the Tooth Fairies who ever were, for inviting me to be a part of your story."
The wind blew my reed shutters, and my eyes, closed.
What crazy dreams! I was diving down a slide and I found a tooth at the end of it. I shot to outer space and I found a tooth in the place of the moon. I climbed up an extremely high mountain, but instead of a snow cap, I found an enormous tooth.
Only a few hours of day light were left before heading out on my first night as Tooth Fairy. I had so much to do.
“Dear, have you polished your wand?”
“Honey, did you want me to stitch up your dust pouch?”
“Sweetheart, shall I press your rose petals?”
All set, but thanks for asking.
After stacking up all my fairy guide books, geography and language manuals on my pebble night stand, I went to say goodnight to Mother and Father Fairy. Father was reading the Daily Dewdrop, our local newspaper, at the mushroom table. Mother was packing me a snack.
“I know you would have and could have packed your own seeds. But, I wanted to do it.” She turned to me and held my shoulders. “You are a grown up fairy. I am pleased with what you have chosen to do. Now is the time to use what you have learned.”
I promised I would.
We hugged. I blew my Father a kiss – which just barely missed his newspaper – and I flew off past the willow tree...
To continue the story, go to Good Night, Sleep Tight.