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The Tooth Of The Matter (standard:romance, 694 words)
Author: CyranoAdded: May 24 2006Views/Reads: 2019/0Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Love at eleven years of age can be a painful business...

The Tooth Of The Matter 

© Kelly_Shaw2001 

Billy Harrison stands like a piece of granite rock at the far end of the
alley, blocking the light. I don't care; I'm not going to let go of 
Susan's hand. It's not that I feel supremely confident, I don't, and 
whatever happens in the next minute or two is sure to hurt, but the 
most important thing is not to let Susan see me cry. Her hand twitches 
but I hold fast. Billy wasn't in school today, giving me an opportunity 
to carry Susan's satchel home. Halfway there we joined hands. It felt 
nice, and even though I may lose a tooth momentarily I'm determined not 
to show timidness. I squeeze her hand as Billy strides his chopper 
bike, pushing off toward us and filling the alley with his width. 
Butterflies flutter in the canyon of my stomach as we hesitate to 
continue walking. Billy skids the bike to a halt two feet in front of 
us, looks at our joined hands, and gets off his bike. 

Mum does her best to console me, wiping the blood from my mouth. Dad,
who ventures into the bathroom, is less sympathetic. ‘Fighting,' he 
says, ‘is for patriotic men.' He looks closely at the bruising around 
my eye and asks if I managed to get a punch in? It disappoints him to 
see my head shaking. Obviously one shouldn't fight over a girl, but if 
ones does at least put up a good show. That is dad's opinion. 

“I hope you took it like a man?” He says, pulling my chin up with his
large hands. 

I tried nodding. 

“Good, it'll not be shameful if you always take a beating like a man.” 

Mum chastises him, telling him to go mind the dogs and not be so hard on
me. He's obviously convinced I'll take more beatings. It all happened 
very quickly, an explosive bang that jolted my head back, then Billy 
sitting on top of me with his fist piling down into my face. I recall 
hearing Susan scream before getting an almost hallucinatory glimpse of 
her grabbing her satchel off the ground and running off home. 

Dad insists I be sent to bed, the standard punishment for wrongdoing.
I'll get no tea, and for the rip in my trouser leg, no weekend 
football. But Billy's victory is a shallow one, never producing a 
single tear from his rival for the affections of Susan Rafferty. 

I can hear dad in the garden, digging up potatoes and cursing the dogs.
The bedroom door opens and mum enters, carrying a glass of milk, a 
chicken sandwich, and biscuits. She glances out the window, puts the 
tray next to the bed, and smiles a smile that goes straight to my 

“Push the tray under the bed when you're done, son.” 

She kisses my cheek, softly, and touches my chin with her finger. The
door closes and I tuck into my sandwich, ‘ouching' at every bite. 
Satisfied, I push the tray under the bed and open my favourite book, 
getting back into the story of ‘How The Whale Got His Throat.' 

When dad enters I've finished the story, the sun has disappeared, and
shouts from the field where my buddies were playing football, have 
quieted. He draws the curtains, and looks down at me. 

“That's a shiner, lad. Maybe you'll think twice about taking on someone
bigger than you, regardless of the cause.” He bends down to kiss my 
forehead.  “No football this weekend, do you understand?” 

“Yes, dad.” 

“Here, I brought you this, no telling your mother now.” From his pocket
he produces a large bar of chocolate, ruffles my mop of hair and shuts 
the bedroom door. 

Billy's bike is not in the school yard. Susan is sitting on the steps to
the classroom. 

“Hi, Susan.” I say, cheerily, dropping my bag to the ground. 

“That must hurt a lot.” She says, shyly.” 

“Having a tooth missing is worse,” I reply, holding my lip up and
showing her the gap. 

“It's not's here, Tom.” Susan opens a locket hanging down
from her neck. My tooth is inside it. 


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