Short Story: Tooth

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFlora lay on her back with her legs and eyes open. Over the boy’s shoulder, branches and leaves swayed to the rhythm of the sea breeze. She focused on a bright mark on a tree trunk until the boy had finished. It was the afterwards time she did it for, when she could lie with someone’s arms around her.

Later, after she had taken the boy and his tattoos home to shock her father, she returned to the tree and hacked at the bright spot with a penknife until what had been hidden there dropped into her palm.

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For those who don’t know how Friday Fictioneers works, this picture (this time supplied by John Nixon) is our inspiration for our weekly online writing group hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Click here to read other people’s amazing stories or to join in. And please comment below with any suggestions for improvement on mine.

45 thoughts on “Short Story: Tooth

  1. Claire, what a beautifully written but ultimately very sad story. I think there are probably far to many girls who do this very thing. But I’m still wondering what the tooth has to do with it. I’ve come up with a variety of probably improbably explanations but am too dim today (or maybe ever) to come to a satisfactory conclusion. Perhaps there isn’t one. If you’re so inclined, please put me out of my mental misery.

    janet

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    • Oh dear, I’m sorry if I caused you mental misery. And the answer is… I just wanted to put in something a bit odd, something that made readers go ‘eh? what?’. So I suppose in that sense it worked. The tooth idea just popped into my head so I popped it in. I think it does leave it open for something else beyond the story, which is what I always like to do. But maybe it the tooth is just a little too odd.

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      • That was a bit too open for me; I think my brain fell out. But at least I hadn’t missed something critical to the story, such as the tree eating other couples or… Phew! Glad I was on the right track.

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  2. I think the purpose of her action was the shock to here father.. I like the fact you have created the character as a little bit distanced from herself.. and the hacking of the tree… seems to me she might be hacking out a memory of the act… like the spot of sunshine would not hunt here any longer… this piece made me think a lot..

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  3. I liked the ambiguity involved in digging something of symbolic value out of the tree. It opens up the possibility of a sequel, and is intriguing enough to make me want to read that sequel.

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  4. A powerful piece, almost shocking. You certainly achieved the desired effect with the ‘tooth’. I brought up short with ‘eh?’ 🙂
    The girl’s detachment from both the boy and her father was truly quite disturbing.

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  5. Seems she doesn’t like herself or her father very much. This is well written and though provoking, the ‘tooth’ idea was a good one, left the reader to decide. Well done
    Dee

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  6. A dismal story with a possible spark of hope at the end. How sad it is that some people will go to dangerous and self-depreciating lengths just to gain the attention they desperately need. Great job with such a touching and intriguing piece.

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  7. So many problems attributed to just one act, trying to shock her father..maybe even hurt him, distancing herself from her feelings and her own self…the ambiguity is something I marvel at and I am confused by because it leaves a lot of things open to interpretation and other possibilities. Well done 🙂

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  8. Definitely had my brain cells working overtime…in a good way. The sexual content was handled very subtly…and yet was pivotal to the story. Not having had a father when I was growing up, this is indeed a sad relationship that is probably true for many young women. And the tooth? Maybe a symbol of childhood lost, but wanting desperately to recover the innocence of that time.

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  9. I feel she is quite disturbed. The need to shock her father and the quirkiness of the tooth in the bark (a talisman?) suggest she is on the verge of leaving home and finding her own way in life. I fear that she will remain lonely until she learns to drop the barriers that life has forced her to build. True for so many people ….

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