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The Faeries Tooth by Mark Wolf

I think when Mom started sticking quarters under my pillow instead of the dollar bills she had when I was younger it was time to pull the plug on my little boy entitlements.

Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny had already left the building when I was five; now at seven and with the recession/depression, I felt so bad milking my con that I told her I knew it was her and it was alright not to leave any more money. She bawled her eyes out and hugged me and called me her baby and other forgettable nonsense and I felt horrible for not allowing her to treat me like one.

That was before I was bitten by a faerie.

* * *

They have nasty bites if you've never experienced them. They invariably get infected because they usually leave a tooth in the wound.

I looked at my swollen neck in the mirror as Mom talked to the doctor on the phone in the next room. I could hear her talking about mumps and having to keep me at home. I knew it was really a faerie bite though.

I put on my best little man game face and went back in to talk to her as she hung up the phone.

"Oh, Billy. I don't know what to do. I can't leave you here at home all alone all day." Mom couldn't afford a baby sitter and I knew she couldn't afford to take off from work either.

"I'll be okay, Mom. I'll rest and just watch TV and sleep." I gave her that "little-man-all-growed-up-resolute-chin-thing" that she just adores. She did this time too.

"What a little man you are! Okay, I'll ask Rosalie to look in you a couple times. But not too much TV, okay sweetie?" Mom said.

"Okay," I said. She bent over and kissed me on the forehead, then ruffled my hair and gave me another hug before putting her hand on my forehead.

"You sure you're okay, honey? You feel like you have a temperature."

Damn, I forgot to regulate my temperature again. I dropped it ten degrees as her hand felt my neck then moved back to my forehead.

"Oh, maybe I'm just being anxious. You feel okay, now."

"I'm going to work, but you call me or Rosalie if you get to feeling worse, you got that, mister?" She mock scowled at me. "Yes, Mom. I will."

"Good sweetie. I'll check on you at lunch. You up to making yourself a grilled cheese or should I send Rosalie over?"

I didn't want the neighbor over anymore than she had to be. My skin was feeling like it was going to burst if I didn't get out of it soon. "No, Mom. I'm good. I'll fix one when I get hungry."

"Alright then. I better get going, bye darlin."

"Bye, mom." I waved to her from the door as she walked down the steps and went to her car from our little two story flat.

A voice behind me startled me. "Now don't you feel like a schmuck?"

"Not really Greebles. Why the hell did you bite me?" I turned to see the toad-like faerie smoking his filthy pipe and leering at me. Who said faeries are always fair?

"Oh, general principles. I just wanted to remind you that you only have a year and the change is permanent. You like being a human?" he said.

I slipped out of my little boy skin and assumed my normal trollishness. "Beats the hell out of being a forest creature. And Mom's a great human."

"I think you been wearing that skin too long my troll-some friend," he said, cleaning the hot residues from his pipe out onto my hairy feet.

"Ouch, that's still hot. Why are you bugging me anyhow?"

"I don't want you to become human. It's more fun to torment you when you're troll."

I reached over and picked him up by the neck and squeezed. "You sure about that?"

"Well, I have been considered mildly insane by the faerie community," he gasped.

I released him. It was true. Greebles was considered odd in more ways than just his looks by faeriedom. It wasn't right even for me to choke the life out of a crazy faerie. Besides, Greebles was the closest thing I had to a friend in the faerie world.

"Yes, you're right. I should pack up and leave Mom. I think I can tell you this. I never expected to get attached to a human."

"Well what did you expect?" Greebles said. "You volunteer to become one to spy on the human world for a few years. You can't live in their skin without picking up some of their quirks."

"It's worse than that. When I leave, she'll forget she ever had a boy named Billy, even though we only been running this mission for two years. Everyone that thought they knew a Billy; Mom, Rosalie, my school friends and teachers, they'll all forget me. It will be like I never existed for them," I said.

"And it would be kinder for your human Mom to think she had a child that disappeared?" Greeble's hairy eyebrows raised as he fished his tobacco pouch out of his pocket, then poured and tamped some tobacco into his pipe again. He grabbed a lucifer and lit the pipe, drawing on it "No. You're probably right. Sometimes you make more sense being insane than I do," I said.

"Well, at least I have an excuse."

* * *

It was nice to be out of my human suit for a while. Most of the time it wasn't too bad, but there were times when a seven year old little boy had no excuse for itching where and in the way trolls itched. To say it would've blown my cover was an understatement.

Greebles was amusing himself chasing the fish in the aquarium with the shop vac. It was kind of funny to see them frantically swimming about. He never tired of the sport for some reason. I always told Mom that they died and I flushed them down the toilet.

Hey, don't get on my case! It was true in a fashion. I just never mentioned they were ginsued into a fishy puree through the shop vacs innards first.

I left Greebles to his weird pleasures and went into the bathroom and hunted through Mom's foo-foo drawer for a pair of tweezers. Curlers, curling iron, tampax, powder, and what's this?

Mom must really miss that loser she was dating last. It was large, glowed in the dark, and twirled in circles. I held it up and sniffed it. Yup, smelled like Mom all right. I almost ate it then worried that she might miss or need it. I put it back.

Ah, there it is. I took her eyebrow tweezers and fished around in my neck wound until I extracted the tooth. Boy did Greebles screw up. He must've not looked in the mirror. I was now the proud owner of a 24 carat gold tooth!

I decided to keep the tooth and leave that day. In the years that passed afterwards, if Mom found an occasional pot of gold under her pillow, the leprechauns never missed them.