The little girl with a new gappy smile looked at her mother and prepared to ask a big question,
“Mummy, is the tooth fairy real? Or is it you?”
The question caught her mother off guard momentarily and she assumed her usual confused face which she always had on stand by for when she needed to tell a lie. Her daughter looked at her and you could see that she was torn between wanting to be old enough to hear the truth, but was also craving the magic that childhood holds.
The mother looked at her seven year old daughter whom she had taught not to lie and realised that she too was not ready to wave goodbye to the fantasy world that all parents create. She realised to denounce the fairy that collects dead teeth for a living, would also mean crushing Father Christmas, slaughtering Rudolph and boiling the Easter Bunny.
So she beamed and caught her daughters hand, and lied through her own teeth and said,
“Don’t be silly, what does mummy want with your rotton old teeth.”
A wave of relief flooded over the small girl as her world remained intact and she hugged her mother tightly before skipping to the playroom to make a picture for the tooth fairy who would be visiting later that night.
The mother chuckled to herself and resumed the daily grind of washing, cooking, cleaning, working until eventually night fell and she succumbed to sleep.
Sleep however, was not a welcome visitor that evening, the mothers dreams were tiring, she was caught in an knotted handkerchief which caused her to toss and turn all night.
Morning came and she awoke to find her daughter standing by her side, her eyes wet and face distraught.
She held out her hand silently and in her palm lay one small white tooth.
“She didn’t come mummy.” She said through a fresh batch of tears “she didn’t come.”
The mother’s hand shot to her mouth in horror, she had forgotten to exchange the dead body part for a shiny gold coin and her daughter was devastated.
“She must have been busy,” stuttered the shamed parent.
Her daughter crept into the bed and held her mother close.
“Well, maybe mummy,” she said, hiccupping with sadness, “but at least I know it is definitely not you because you would never forget something as important as this.”
The mother turned her face to the wall, embarrassed to be perceived as being so organised by her seven year old child, feeling guilty for blaming a mythical creature for her own mistake and utterly elated that by being an incompetent imbecile she had firmly confirmed her daughters believe in the magical.
The tooth fairy came the next night, she paid double.