It starts with teeth.
No pain. Just rotten. Rusted. Twisted and pulled out, trails of metallic tasting blood down the chin.
A smile for a jackhammer.
Every night they come out. One at a time. Into the sink. Down the throat. Spit into the palm.
Fingers left sticky and shaking in confusion.
“What the fuck?”
Speaking through gaping gums and red tinged bubbles.
The fear of touching, knowing more will follow suit.
“What the fuck? He’s bleeding.”
The taste of salt and iron filling the throat, attacking the stomach. Rivers. Drowning.
“What the fuck?”
Then it’s over. A shove, a kick, a gentle whisper.
Teeth pierced lips in nightmare-defense. Light breaking through clouded memories.
“I think he’s finally waking up.”
Hands unable to move. Jaw hurts. The light laughs at the eyes, pupils large, welcoming.
“I don’t know. His eyes don’t look right.”
Knee is missing.
“I saw him before. They never looked right. Evil looking bastard is what he was.”
“We took care of that.”
The stench of vomit and blood.
“Think he’ll be able to walk again?”
“Maybe. He’ll definitely be a gimp though. You took the cap right off.”
“Damn good shot I am.”
“What is he doing now?”
Tongue against teeth, testing, making sure. It’s always the teeth that go first.
First the teeth, then things get bad.
“I think you need to wake him up a bit more.”
“Where’s the bucket?”
“Use that one.”
“You pissed in it.”
Falling into sleep is just like that, falling- without fear. The falling is great, like being called home or seeing a loved one after years of absence. The falling is easy.
First come the teeth, falling like pocket change into porcelain. Followed by that tightness in the chest and that feeling that is probably a heart attack. Then panic. Sweat. The Eyes shoot open. Sometimes a scream.
A calming whisper and everything is supposed to be alright. A soft, feminine hand touches the back.
It’s night but street lamps bring mock-daylight.
A smile too small to reflect, a nod.
“You should see someone about those. A shrink or something. Get some pills.”
A laugh, not too bitter. “Been there done that.”
“Right. Drinking helped. I remember.”
“I remember I helped them go away too. Once.”
Her voice trails off but her body moves closer. It’s comforting. Not the presence, not the touch, maybe just the caring. Whatever it is, it seems to help and the eyes begin to close once more.
“Come on, baby, give me a smile.”