When Danny turned six, his mouth rotted and a host of flies swarmed his lips. They laid their ugly eggs beneath his tongue and zipped right through the holes in his gums. Nana washed his mouth out with Listerine and soap, scolding him for not being more careful. For not acting his age. For not growing up.
But back then, when autumn fell like Danny’s baby teeth into Nana’s unsuspecting palm, she cradled the little spotted things and planted them in a flowerpot. She placed it in the window above the kitchen sink and tended to it incessantly, sprinkling water from the tap with her fingers, raking the dirt tenderly with Danny’s old plastic comb. It was the same one she once used to tug all that soft hair back from his face into a silly little tail atop his head.
In the morning, Nana came down the stairs to find Danny pointing at the pot. I watched his tongue probe the new gaps in his mouth as Nana stopped before the kitchen sink. She pressed a hand to her lips, beckoning to Danny, as they watched the frailest tendril curl right up from the base of the pot, reaching towards the ceiling, not unlike a silly little tail that’ll eventually get cut.
Alexa Logush is a trained librarian and archivist who works at a children’s book publishing company with data on the weekdays and at a public library on Sundays. She lives in Washington, DC with her tiny cat and sizable collection of mugs.
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