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Sasha Pepper

Losing Teeth

It seemed like every time I looked at my girlfriend Cindy she was missing another tooth.

"Oh Cindy," I said, and we hugged and cried, and then we went to her dentist and ex-husband, Dr. Martin Peterborough.

My Cindy had taken up drinking. She was a bad drunk, a terrible drunk, a falling down losing her teeth kind of drunk.

Cindy used to be a hand model. She had perfectly lovely hands, white and smooth as porcelain. Her fingers were long and delicate. She had shapely nails--always beautiful manicured, polished a clear, natural color. Her hands had been on the cover of magazines, sporting the worlds biggest diamond, the largest emeralds and rubies. Her hands had been in the movies, caressing the torsos and genitalia of famous movie stars. Cindy earned a stunning amount of money off her hands.

I spotted her on line at a house ware store, buying woven place mats. She was lovely. The way her fingers stroked the place mats as she stood in line. Is these love at first sight? I followed her from the store into a nearby café where she bought a chocolate croissant. Heartbreakingly lovely.

The drinking started only after the accident. Her lovely hands were ruined in an elevator fire. After years of protecting those soft, beautiful hands, refusing to wash a dish, open a package, shovel a sidewalk, they were ruined in a day by a crazed elevator operator, a union man, who set himself on fire. Cindy was standing next to him. She caught on fire too. Her left hand engulfed in the flames. The burns would heal, but there would always be scars. Just like that, Cindy's career was over. All over.

Dr. Peterborough still had feelings for Cindy. He also cried while he repaired the damage. His assistant wiped the tears from his face while he worked on Cindy's moth. After replacing the caps on Cindy's front teeth the second time in two weeks, Dr. Peterborough asked me to step out of the office for a friendly conversation. During our so-called friendly conversation, he asked me to step out of the relationship. ASAP. Pronto. Without delay.

"Dr. Peterborough?" I said. "Really?"

Perhaps I should mention that Cindy was old enough to be my mother. She was lovely in an older woman kind of way. I had never been so at ease with a girlfriend before. Cindy was grateful, whereas young girlfriends demand more and more. Dancing, phone calls, presents, commitment, money, presents, a real commitment. Late nights at the disco. With Cindy, I could relax. She reminded my of my mother but only prettier.

Dr. Peterborough wrote me a large script for pain killers. He thought I would leave Cindy for a whole mess of hydrocodone. I looked at Cindy, passed out on Dr. Peterborough's waiting room couch, curled up like a little girl. Her tooth was fixed, again. Until the next time. The bandage on her hand was yellow and black with grime. She was less lovely. There was toilet paper in her hair.

I thought I loved Cindy. I stayed after the accident, when her left hand was ruined, when her finances became tight and she spent all her liquid resources on booze. I didn't run. I took her to the dentist when she came home from a night's drunk, bloody, with her teeth in her pocket. Love with a capital L. But Dr. Peterborough was right. I wanted Cindy to take care of me. I was twenty-six years old. I had never been to Paris.

I walked out of the dentist's office and never looked back. I wish I had taken the pills but I am also glad that I didn't.

This is Sasha Pepper's first published story.

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