Marcy didn’t react the way you’d expect a person to when she found the tooth in her everything bagel. She didn’t storm back into the bodega underneath her Koreatown apartment to demand a refund and she definitely didn’t call the health department. She simply plucked the molar free from its bedding of chive cream cheese and examined it between her drug store press-ons. It was whiter than her own teeth, almost as white as the cream cheese stuck to its top. A gurgle on indigestion-laced-confidence raced up her throat.
Marcy thought that this tooth was a divine intervention sent to usher something good into her life. It was shiny and beautiful and now it was hers. She sucked it clean and walked down to The Container Store on 6th and 19th where she found a set of three vials. They sat in cellophane, small medium and large with corkboard stoppers wedged in their openings. She ripped the wrapping open and snagged the smallest vial from the pack, heading out without paying.
Marcy had a date that afternoon with a woman she’d met on the High Line a week before so she didn’t have much time to waste. She uncorked the vial and dropped the molar in. She shook it as she walked home, smiling so wide that the freckles on her cheeks scrunched into one mass. The small tinkering song of enamel on glass acted as a whimsical soundtrack to her cinematic New York moment.
Marcy’s apartment sat above the bodega that gifted her the tooth. The space could only hold a queen bed and a table with a framed playbill from Cats. The wall above her bed was decorated with more playbills, all shows at the Winter Garden Theatre. Macy only saw shows at the Winter Garden because it was right by the Times Square Applebee’s with its greasyily gorgeous mozzarella sticks and dollar long islands.
Marcy set the vial on the table, lit two candles, and set them around the molar like a shrine. She threw on a faux velvet gown she’d mopped from the Goodwill on 14th street and dressed it up with a silver choker that caught the light of the single overhead bulb brilliantly. Then her apartment’s buzzer rang. She blew out the candles and slid the tooth’s vial into her panties’ waistband.
“You look divine.” The woman stood on the stoop of Marcy’s building. “Shall we?”
Marcy examined the woman’s top, covered in a rainbow frog print and tucked into a pair of bootcut jeans. She decided she didn’t feel guilty about forgetting her name.
“So where are we going?” Marcy asked.
“I thought we could go to the Applebee’s in Times Square,” the woman said, leading Marcy up the block. “What kind of person can say no to a dollar long island?”
“A sociopath, obviously.” Marcy felt a soft rumble in her stomach. Maybe it was the gastrointestinal shake of new love or maybe she was just hungry.
“Do you remember your dreams?” the woman asked, attempting to break the silence.
“Never,” Marcy said.
“Well, I keep having this dream that all of my teeth are falling out,” the woman said. “I’m trying to think of a meaning.”
“I don’t think dreams need a meaning.” Marcy felt cold glass on her hip. “Teeth are great, though.”
Once they stepped into Applebee’s, Marcy grabbed two stools at the bar that sat closest to the bathrooms. Marcy always had to sit at the bar on dates to keep the long islands flowing, consequently needing close proximity to the bathrooms. The bartender came by to take their orders.
“I’ll have a long island and mozzarella sticks.” Marcy ordered without touching the menu. “OH, and spinach artichoke dip, puh-lease.”
“I’ll have the same,” the woman said. “Just one order of dip, though. I mean, you probably know that already. Right? Sorry, first date, I’m kinda nervous.”
The bartender let out a sigh from between the gritted teeth of her put-on customer service smile and set two frosty glasses down in front of the duo. The drinks splashed over the edges of their glasses. Marcy leaned in and licked the liquor dripping down the edge of her glass.
“Can’t let a drop go to waste, huh?” the woman asked.
“These are my favorite,” Marcy said.
“We have that in common.” The woman slipped a finger across a boozy puddle and sucked it dry.
Marcy wanted to be the one sucking the saccharine taste clean from the woman’s extremities. She pictured the woman’s finger plunging into her mouth. Marcy hadn’t had sex in eleven months, since the bellhop with the bowlcut. She focused on the two points of a tattoo she saw peeking from beneath the woman’s shirt sleeve to get her head out of the gutter.
“What’s that tattoo of?” Marcy asked.
The woman lifted her shirt sleeve to reveal a detailed image of a molar. Marcy’s jaw dropped, shell shocked. She could feel her bagel tooth doing cartwheels, its vial vibrating urgently against her hip, screaming: HER, SHE’S THE ONE.
“I got in a bar fight with a homophobe in Koreatown once and had a molar punched out.” The woman dropped her shirt sleeve. “Now it’s like I still have it. And molars are supposed to symbolise progress, I think. Maybe that’s what my dream was about…”
A molar. Koreatown. Long islands. The vial shook so violently against Marcy’s hip she thought it might shatter, shards of glass piling in her panties while the tooth fell from between her legs to freedom like she’d birthed it at the bar. She knew then that this bootcut wearing lesbo was clearly her destiny, even if for the night.
“Let’s go back to my place,” Marcy said, downing half of her Long Island in one sip.
“What about our food?” the woman asked.
“We’ll take the mozzarella sticks to go, fuck the dip.” Marcy took the woman’s right hand in her’s. “What was your name again?”
Kyle Rea is a queer writer from Ohio who wishes their life was a Sofia Coppola film. Their fiction and poetry has been featured in Dirty Girls Magazine, Sazeracs Smoky Ink, Jenny Magazine, and has been selected as a finalist for the 2021 Subnivean Magazine award. Kyle is pursuing an MFA at the New School and currently lives in Brooklyn.