How She Rathered

The woman decided to be something less upsetting than a woman. She was tired of losing blood. She said: “I am going to collect teeth.”

She brushed her hand along the underside of numberless pillows that first night, taking and leaving, swiping and stowing with the starving intensity of a small rodent.

It took less than an hour to fill her enormous bag.

At home, when she emptied its contents into her tub, they nearly filled it. Without the salivic gleam of their usual context the teeth looked like kernels of bathtub.

It was strange, but neither a lovely nor enthralling sight until she had let the water run for a few minutes, and the teeth glistened and bobbed around in a pearled and intoxicating abundance. It made her quake. She had to hold the edge of the sink to steady herself.

When she dipped her left foot inside, and then her right, and then her hands, her heart squeaked, and then she collapsed completely. All but her nose and her lips and the tips of her breasts were submerged.

She opened her mouth slowly, and then closed it to swish loose teeth between her own teeth. She listened to their tinkling, spit them all out, and started over. Mouthful, and then mouthful, and then mouthful again.

It all tasted faintly of blood. It was a start, but it was not nearly enough.

Miah Arnold is a writer with a Ph. D. in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston. She won a Barthelme Award for nonfiction in 2006, the Inprint/Diana P. Hobby Award for her fiction in 2008, and this year she was chosen as a Houston Arts Alliance Established Artist Grant recipient. Her writing has appeared in journals including Michigan Quarterly Review, Confrontation, Painted Bride Quarterly, the South Dakota Review, and Cite.