“And then, when I opened my mouth, all my teeth fell out!”
“Ugh! I hate those nightmares,” Holly said, sipping her coffee. “I always dream that the tooth fairy is running behind and shows up with a pair of pliers.”
Vicky shivered. “I don’t know if I could live with that one, Hols. You know I don’t like pliers in the first place.”
Every morning Lucy sat in the corner of Jay’s Coffee Hut and watched models like Vicky and Holly come in, chat for a while, and smile with perfect teeth. She didn’t know how, but they were immaculate. Every morning she would sit and watch the perfect young ladies turn up their noses at her. Never a model, never beautiful…on the outside. Her teeth were black, broken, or missing from years of poverty. People snickered, pointed, stared, and whispered of meth. Always whispered just loud enough for her to hear. Every morning she died a little more inside.
When she was done with her quarter water and morning newspaper, Lucy walked five miles to the hospital where she sat all day watching nurses come and go, doctors and interns patting themselves on the back, and grieving families leave for the last time. Every day she sat with her daughter. This was her life now. Six years ago, Fay was waving goodbye as she stepped on the bus for her first day of Kindergarten. Lucy’s life stopped ten minutes later as sirens wailed through the city. Twenty-two dreams cut short; one delayed.
No, this was her life now. So let them point, let them laugh. Let them think she is a drug addict. If the young lady had not been in such a hurry to get to her model shoot. If she had not stopped at Jay’s Coffee Hut. If she had not been more concerned about her perfect looks, then maybe she would have seen the bus. Maybe the bus driver would not have swerved and lost control. Maybe the bus would never have t-boned the tree. Maybe twenty-three children would be starting junior high today. Maybe Lucy wouldn’t spend every morning wondering if one of those perfect beauties was the young woman who didn’t stop. Maybe.