GAPING HOLE

Fiction by Kate Felix
(Winner of the 2018 Wilda Herne Flash Fiction Prize)

On the third day, Mom gets out of bed.  She fumbles under the cereal boxes that lay scattered on the kitchen counter, finds the phone, and answers it.  I sit in the corner, shielded by an open cupboard and try to remain invisible.  I hold my breath and hope that it’s Dad.

I hear the growly voice of Auntie Tiffany on the line.  She wants to know what the hell is going on.

I sit still and listen for the answer. I try not to crunch the cereal under my feet.

I learn that Auntie Kim is a slut and she has gone up to Jackson with both Dad and our rent.  

Mom looks up and sees the blood on my mouth. She says a swear and tells Auntie Tiffany she has to go.

That night, Mom wraps my tooth in tinfoil and hides it under my pillow. She bends down to kiss me and whispers that I am so big now.  While I am sleeping, the Tooth Fairy will come and take my tooth away. 

I lie in the darkness and listen to cars zoom down the highway outside my window.  Their headlights make patterns on my wall, flashes of darkness between them.  I count two hundred cars, and then I slip my hand under the pillow and close my fingers around the tinfoil.

Quiet as a thief, I creep down the hall and past my parent’s room. I hear the television, and the sound that ice cubes make when they hit each other inside a glass.

There is a place beside the driveway where the ground is always loose.  That is where I bury my tooth.

I look back at the house and realize I was just in time.  The Tooth Fairy’s shadow flies from room to room. That slut is looking for what is mine. I smile to myself and stomp on the dirt above my tooth.

Eventually The Tooth Fairy stops swooping, and the house goes quiet.  I crouch beside the driveway and count cars.  I will let a hundred to pass before I go back.  I want to be sure the Tooth Fairy is really gone.  

Mom bursts out the door and screams Dad’s name like he is in big trouble.  I run down the driveway, call to Dad, and strain to see him in the darkness.

Mom grabs me with both hands and pulls me behind her.  She yells Dad’s name at the traffic and makes another swear.  Maybe Dad is hiding in the shadows and that’s why we can’t see him.  Mom shouts out that he can’t have me.  That I am the one thing he can’t have.

I whisper to my tooth, buried in the dark earth beside the driveway.  I tell it how I am big now. I know how to keep things safe.


Kate Felix is a Toronto based writer and independent filmmaker. Her fiction has appeared in Bath Flash Fiction, Cauldron Anthology, and Literary Taxidermy. Many of her award-winning screenplays have been produced into short films. Her small daughter describes her as being ‘like a rainbow but with one stripe made of darkness.’