in the dream it is dark. i am riding in the backseat of the car my parents owned when i was fifteen. my father is driving my mother and me through the nighttime streets of some vaguely familiar town. it is quiet. the only sound is the gentle rush of the road beneath our tires as we pass hypnotically through pools of soft yellow light cast down from the streetlamps above. i don’t know where we are going, but am content to ride along. outside the window a concrete bridge appears, carrying us across a robust river. we have left the city behind and are now in a quiet countryside. the car’s headlamps illuminate the road ahead, and i catch glimpses of things at the edges of their light: a cluster of pines, an old ramshackle barn, an animal of some kind. we begin to climb. soon after, we drive through a sheer rock pass that rises out of sight on both sides, drawing my eyes to the stars. they are crisp and bright in the cold night air. there is as yet no sign of the moon. i lay my head back against the headrest, feeling lulled by the forward motion, the nearness of my parents in this space. it’s almost a strange regress to the womb, as if my adult self could return with all its consciousness to that time between times and float weightless on those healing amniotic waters. it is then that i feel a light touch on my knee. instantly alert, i raise my head to see my now dead mother turn to face me from her seat in the front and say: ‘Love, you have always had a beautiful heart.’ i am relieved. i’ve had doubts, and forgotten the sound of her voice, but now, in this fluidity, my whole being reverberates with the tone of rebirth.
it was the teeth. she was certain of it. they were holding her back, blocking the flow of her thoughts like restraining bolts, worrying her sleep with constant grinding. they ached throughout the day and were becoming sensitized to heat, cold and sweet. the idea crept horribly into her mind and wouldn’t leave: they had to go. she sat quietly with this knowledge for a while, accepting it deep into the molecules of her being. after some time, and with resolve and peace, she got up and retrieved a pair of pliers from the garage. she took the time to boil some water, drop them in, and wait for sterilization. she let them cool, breathing herself into a meditative trance. thus girded, she calmly and carefully pulled each and every tooth. she felt a lightness creep in as the process occurred; she cried a little with relief. when it was done, she rinsed her mouth with a shot of whiskey, spitting it out in offering to the muse inside her head. she stood a moment and looked at her reflection in the bathroom mirror, observed the offending bits of bone in the trash, feeling triumphant. she smiled a raw smile, went to her computer and began to write, a torrential flood that stanched the spill of blood from her now empty sockets. she had never been as happy.