Sara was wrong. Meany-head Sara. She was so wrong. Candi chanted it to herself over and over. She had to stay mad. It was the only way to stay awake.
Sara was wrong. There was a tooth fairy. She was real. Candi would prove it, tonight.
It seemed to Candi like she’d been lying there, feeling furious, for longer than a whole night. Over and over she’d played through the scene in the cafeteria that school day.
Candi had been wiggling her lose tooth with her tongue when it just popped out. Right there at school. She had almost swallowed it on accident, but instead she spit it out onto her lunch tray.
“Gross, what is that?” Jackie had shrieked. “Your tooth?”
Candi had nodded, kind of embarrassed, but a little proud too.
“Cool. What does the tooth fairy pay at your house? I always get five dollars,”
“There’s no tooth fairy,” Sara had said. “That’s stupid. You’re all little babies if you still believe in the tooth fairy.”
Candi did believe in the tooth fairy. She was sure that unicorns were real too, and that somewhere in the jungle of Africa or maybe
South America, there were still dinosaurs.
Sara was just so mean.
Candi knew just what the tooth fairy would look like. She’d wear a long blue gown and have shiny wings, little diamond slippers, and a wand with a star on the end. She’d smile sweetly and slip the tooth out from under Candi’s pillow, then leave a shiny gold dollar in its place, like she always did, though Candi had never seen her do it.
Candi would rather have a shiny gold dollar than a crumply old five-dollar-bill anyway. Coins were more magical.
Candi had nearly dozed off when she heard a slight rattle near her head.
Quick as a flash, Candi whipped the flashlight from her pillowcase and clicked it on.
Then she screamed.
A dark shadow that the flashlight didn’t seem to do much to dispel stood beside her bed. Scraggly brown hair, wound round and round with long strands of what at first Candi thought were misshapen pearls, but then she realized they were children’s teeth. A face with grey wrinkly skin, like an elephant’s knee, glinty black eyes and a toothless mouth open wide in surprise. No wings, but long black-tipped claws, frozen, poised, only an inch from Candi’s head.
The creature only paused a second before making a quick snatch under Candi’s pillow. Candi wriggled back against the wall, as far as she could get, and lay there, heart pounding, making little sobbing gasps of terror.
The creature vanished with a faint rattle of teeth.
Candi didn’t dare move for a long time. When she did, she squeezed along the wall and reached for the lightswitch by the door. She snapped it on. The room was empty. No sign of the ragged creature she’d seen.
Slowly, heart still pounding, ears still pricked for any noise, she stepped to the head of her bed and slipped her hand beneath the pillow.
One shiny gold dollar, where her tooth had been.