My father was a man (and still is!) who said what he meant and meant what he said. There were no questions asked as there was no need since he’d just spoke his deal loud and clear. However, as a small child I did not understand how to read humor between the lines. My Daddy was a teaser. He teased anyone and everyone. Unfortunately, it took me many years to get this. This delay in my understanding caused me much undue stress as a small child.
This is the tree I hid out in for an entire day (or so it seemed!)…all because I feared Daddy was going to pull my loose tooth out with a pair of pliers!
We were eating breakfast on a Saturday morning. I was shoving my food to one side and chewing slowly. I was being ever so careful not to disengage my loose tooth and swallow it. Who knows I might have started growing dentures or something. After all Daddy had said if I ate watermelon seeds I’d grow watermelons in my tummy.
Daddy noticed I was twisting my mouth about as I was eating. I was usually a scarfer, never a methodical eater. I told him I had a loose tooth.
“Well, I can take care of that for you right quick.” His hazel eyes twinkled of devilment, and his grin was even more sinister. I could feel the pain as I would flinch as the cold metal entered my mouth. I could see the blood spill upon the hardwood floor. I knew I was done. My eyes must have grown to the size of the saucer his coffee cup was placed on. I shook my head no, and he chuckled.
“Just let me go out to my truck and get them.” He reared back in his chair, pushing it away from the table as if he was going to stand up.
I started crying and ran from the room. I ran straight through the house and right out the back door. His laughter trailed my every step.
I scanned the property and quickly decided the cedar tree was my best option. First of all, it was the easiest one for me to climb. Secondly, it had a perfect view of both the front and back of the house. Thirdly, the long scraggly limbs would surely conceal me. And most important of all, I could easily catch someone else leaving or returning to the house for an update on Daddy’s wear-abouts.
I climbed higher than I’d ever dared. I was almost as afraid of coming back down as I was of Daddy pulling my tooth. I nestled myself in the midst of braches. In fact, I wedged myself at a point where I could not easily step to the branch below. I curled one leg around the limb and pushed my other leg against the trunk for support. I rested my head against a downward swooping branch. I could see a bird’s nest above me. The birds fluttered about but my infringement upon their tree had ceased their singing. I watched the activities of my siblings and listened to their banter. I peeled the stringy paper-like bark from the tree. I crushed the blue berries, releasing the pungent aroma into the air. I did everything I could within the limits of the tree to prevent my boredom and pass the time away. My heartbeat did not slow down nor did the queasiness of my stomach cease for the entire time I sat in that tree.
After what seemed like eternity, I saw my sister prance through the yard.
“Pssst.” I knew she heard me because she was looking around like she was trying to figure out where the sound was coming from.
“Up here”, I added. She smiled as she caught sight of me.
“What cha’ doin’ up there?” She asked as she started climbing up to me.
“I’m hiding from Daddy.”
“Because he’s mean!”
“Why do you say that?”
“He’s gonna’ pull my tooth out with those huge pliers he keeps in the toolbox on his truck.”
“No he’s not. He was only joking you.”
“He means it, and it’s gonna’ hurt.”
“Tell you what. I’ll sneak you in the back door. I’ll take you upstairs and pull it myself.”
That did not sound like a good plan to me. However, her process sounded much better than a pair of pliers with Daddy towering and snickering at the other end.
She took me by the hand and led me down the tree, putting her arms around my waist and lifting my down the precarious spots. Once we reached the ground, she put her hand like a fan over her forehead and Indian scout style surveyed the yard for grown ups. When she detected the absence of activity, she pulled me, stumbling across the lawn and up the stairs of the back porch. She peered through the screen to door to assure the coast was clear. She ran, dragging me up the back steps to my sister’s room. Why I trusted the one person I fought most with in life was beyond my understanding. I can only surmise that she was also the one person who always had my back when we were on the bus or at school.
She took a spool of black thread from my sister’s bureau. She unwound a long strand and bit it off with her teeth. She wrapped and tied one end around my loose tooth and had me stand near the door. She tied the other end around the door knob of the open bedroom door. Before I knew it she had slammed the door shut. I was standing in shock, blood drooling down my chin and my tooth swinging like a pendulum from the end of the thread. Then I heard the ping as it fell to the floor. A few drops of blood scattered between me, the tooth, and the door.
“You did it. Let’s look at you in the mirror!”
I grinned my snaggled expression in the oval mirror of the Victorian vanity. She reminded me the Tooth Fairy would be coming to see me as she wiped the blood off the tooth and from the floor with a tissue. She handed me the tooth and told me to go show Daddy.
We went downstairs to find him. He was still sitting at the kitchen table reading the paper. (I guess time seemed to drag on much longer than it really did!) I pushed my closed hand in front of his newspaper and opened it to expose my first lost baby tooth.
“Good thing you did it yourself because those pliers would have really hurt.”
A big sigh of relief passed my body about the same time a grin spread across my Daddy’s face.
Living in the Gap
January 24, 2012 – Misty Morning
Thick and uninvited, mist settled on the morning like dust on the furniture. Everything was gray; the sky, the trees, the air… The atmosphere was so heavy it hung like a bulky shawl across the shoulders. No chirping birds or barking dogs; it was as if the fog had stifled sound in its grip.