Hair and Teeth


I dug a clot of hair and teeth out of my arm this morning.  After I cleaned off the blood and bandaged the wound, I set the little thing on the table and examined it with proprietary amazement, like a cat sniffing something it has just coughed up or killed.
      Wow, I thought.  Now there's something you don't often do.
      A summer rainstorm had recently passed, and the cool air coming in the kitchen window smelled fresh and earthwormy.  I touched the thing on the table with my fingertip.  It was small—nothing more than two smooth, tiny teeth about the size of dried peas plus some thin, wrinkled hairs, all of it gummed together with unidentifiable grayish tissue.  Looking at the thing made me sad.
      Once I thought about it, of course, I knew whose hair and teeth had been buried inside my arm.  (Buried is a good word.  The effect of discovering them—or, rather, realizing who they belonged to—was the same as if I'd torn up the floorboards of my house and found the corpse of a long-forgotten aunt stuffed in there, mummified and smelling of death.)  After all, the teeth were unnaturally small, almost dwarfish.
      I got a warm, familyish feeling in my heart.
      My little brother.  
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