Bruxism by Aileen O’Dowd

When I wake up, my central incisor is a rhinoceros. My lip gets hooked on its horn. My husband says, what now? My dentist says, rhinoceros? My tooth is a mammal, I say. My fork is redundant. My canine is a canary. It sings, how do you do? A feather tickles my nose and I sneeze. Bless you, my dentist says. Thank you, my molar says—it is now a giraffe. My dentist blows an X-ray up on the screen: This is a tooth menagerie! He laughs. I am trying to contain the canary. No menagerie, I say, without moving my lips. This is a zoo. A camel wiggles its hump. Your teeth, the dentist says, are out of line. He puts on his glasses and points with his flashlight. The rhino runs over my tongue. Bruxism, the dentist says. What-now? my husband says. Do something! I say. I’m sorry, says the dentist. His eyes dart around like mice. You’ve gone too far. You chiseled your teeth into non-teeth. He crumples my blue paper bib. My department, the dentist says, is teeth. He points to the door. A dental hygienist appears. She holds my bill in her mouth. A giant mouth of veneers. Now that is a beautiful smile, says my husband. And it is. Her teeth, so straight and obedient and white. Causing no trouble at all. So shiny and dead.


Aileen O’Dowd lives in Toronto. Her writing has appeared in X-R-A-Y, Peach Mag, Maudlin House, Rejection Letters, and elsewhere.