The Third Set

by Chad Redden

When a man dreams of losing teeth, it arises from a deeper fear of him losing his virility. The man could not decide the meaning of him losing a tooth while he was awake, for it to fall out as simple as a sneeze, drop out of his mouth and into his hand simple as coughing up a bad taste. The actual name of the tooth and its function in his mouth was unknown to the man, all the same, it laid there in his hand with a little bit of blood and spit pooled around it almost as if it were a symbol itself, a symbol of what the event meant, but he lost interest in thinking about symbols. Instead, the man wondered about the possibility of people growing three sets during their lifetime with teeth instead of two, that this tooth was pushed out, this was a thought of hope over the reality that somewhere in his years, the occasional evenings in which he fell asleep before flossing and proper brushing led to this point. The man then thought about the giant tooth and toothbrush the old dentist used to demonstrate the circular motions required while brushing, and then wondered if he put the tooth under his pillow the Tooth Fairy might come because he had questions he had wished he had asked back when the Tooth Fairy originally visited his room with clumsy feet that crunched tinker toys into bits and scattered cars under his bed where they would be lost for years, clumsy feet that then went into the living room and opened cans of beer until the television went to loud static, while the man, a boy then, laid the rest of the night, afraid to open his eyes because if he did, that quarter under his pillow might disappear. The man dropped the tooth into the sink, flushed it down the drain with water, and then hoped a third set of teeth wasn’t growing and pushing his current set of teeth out from his mouth, because every time another tooth fell out he’d be tempted to put it under his pillow and wait for a Tooth Fairy he was too afraid to ask questions of, or worse, would have questions for him, like why he had turned out exactly the same or why hadn’t he visited the cemetery.


Chad Redden lives in Indianapolis. His work has appeared in Fiore and Biannicle.