Fee Fi Fo Fum by Ethel Rohan
Rose’s caregivers insisted on removing her dentures before she napped, afraid she might choke now that she was shrinking and her teeth had gotten loose in her head. Rose refused to part with her dentures. They worked them out of her mouth.
When Rose awoke, she missed her teeth immediately, and pawed at her fallen-in mouth. The caregivers admitted her dentures couldn’t be found. Rose bucked and shouted, and they pinned her shoulders, held her arms.
They laughed. “What’s the panic? Were you going on a date?”
At dinner, Fat Greta, more blowfish than woman, tried to force-feed Rose watery gruel. Rose demanded they find her dentures. She wanted the roast chicken with trimmings, just like everyone else.
“You want to choke?” Fat Greta rammed the spoon against Rose’s lips, and threatened to put her to bed if she didn’t behave.
Rose snapped at Fat Greta’s hand, sank her gums in. Fat Greta roared. Three caregivers swooped down, and separated Rose’s mouth from Fat Greta’s rubbery paw. Rose reared backwards, crying out in triumph.
Rose waited for night, and stole her way to the main bathroom. She felt her way in the dark, her slippers shuffling along the shiny linoleum. Inside the bathroom, she eased open the wall cabinet, unnerved by its groan. She listened for the night nurse’s footfall. Nothing. She breathed again, and scanned the lines of glasses inside the cabinet. Each glass contained a pair of dentures, its pink water flecked with food particles.
She reached a shaky hand inside the cabinet, and moved the glasses about. The glass labeled with her name remained empty. She froze, afraid she’d heard some movement in the corridor. The moments stretched. Her heart thumped dangerously. Sure she hadn’t been detected, she resumed her search.
Toward the back of the cabinet, she found dentures inside a chalky glass, the faded name on the label unknown to her. The fresh ink read “deceased.” Rose carried the glass to the sink and washed the dentures. They cleaned-up well, aside from the nicotine stains. Rose looked at her bony face in the mirror, her mouth deep in her head.
She inserted the dentures. Her mouth filled with the taste of mint and baking soda, and tobacco. She fought the rising nausea. Recovered, she tapped the dentures together. They fit well enough. Her smile wasn’t hers, but it would do.
Back in the warmth of her bed, Rose pictured Fat Greta’s face the following morning when her new teeth found the caregiver’s flesh.
Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Ethel Rohan now lives in San Francisco. She received her MFA in fiction from Mills College, CA. Her work has appeared in Potomac Review, Los Angeles Review, Southeast Review Online, The Emerson Review, and Keyhole Magazine 9, among many others. She blogs at ethelrohan.com.