's 2013 Horror Write-off:

"Wanna See What I Can Do?"

Submitted by Kiara Maher

 Itís about 4:45 and Iím walking home from work, as usual, cutting across the field of my old elementary school. I always like walking this way and seeing parents with their kids on the playground. More than once itís lifted my spirits after an especially shitty day at work.

 Today thereís only one kid, a little girl about six or seven years old, with short brown hair and a pale face dotted with freckles. I stop and watch her valiant progress across the monkey bars. Fall leaves spill out of her stuffed jacket pockets as she swings hand over hand, and when she notices me out of the corner of her eye, she completes the last two swings before dropping down onto her feet and taking a bow. I laugh and clap appreciatively.

 ďHey, lady,Ē she says, ďDo you wanna play with me?Ē Sorry, I tell her, I canít right now, Iím on my way home to feed my kitty, whoís going to have kittens soon. Which is true; Mollyís kittens are due any day now. For all I know, there might be several new mouths to feed when I get home today.

Looking around, I notice that no parent or older sibling is present, and I ask her where her mom or dad is.

 ďMy momís inside,Ē she replies, ďTalking to a student about his current behavior. Sheís gonna be out soon and then weíre gonna go home.Ē

 Ah, a teacher. That makes sense. Still, even though her momís coming to get her soon, maybe I should stay here until then? My thought process is interrupted by another question from the little girl.

ďDo you wanna see what I can do?Ē

I smile and say sure I do, go ahead and show me.

 She grins broadly, and I expect her to run off to the monkey bars or another part of the playground, but instead she just opens her mouth. Really, really wide-- my jaw practically aches just looking at her.. I start to say something but she hold up one finger, precociously, indicating she isnít done.

 I watch patiently in silence as she keeps her mouth open and stands stone-still, arms at her sides. Ten seconds pass, then fifteen. I grow increasingly uncomfortable. Suddenly, her left hand flies up to her mouth and tugs on a top front tooth, wiggling it from side to side, and I realize with horror that, holy shit, this child is about to rip out her own loose baby tooth for my viewing pleasure. Baby teeth are meant to fall out, but I donít want her to hurt herself!

I step forward to stop her and thatís when it happens.

She pulls the tooth out of her mouth. Only itís still attached to her mouth.

 The incisor is still attached to where it used to be anchored, by a long string of what appears to be gum tissue, and she holds it triumphantly in the air. Then she pulls on it further. Another tooth, identical to the first, begins to emerge, connected to the same strand. Then another. And another. As I look on, frozen to the spot, the little girl pulls out tooth after tooth, as a magician would pull out a length of scarves, tied together, producing them seemingly from nowhere. A grotesque chain of teeth and gum hangs slack from her mouth, even as she grins lopsidedly-- not a nervous grin, or a mentally unstable one, but a genuine smile, warm and triumphant.

ďThatís not all I can do, though! Watch this, okay?Ē

I nod autonomously, still in shock, but she isnít waiting for my go-ahead, anyway.

 The string of teeth starts to move. Then, so do the other teeth. They wiggle insistently and gently, pushing their way out, not forcing their way out. As she opens her mouth wider and wider more strands emerge, holding themselves upright, like snakes. They turn towards me and there are so many, writhing, they obscure her face from this angle; what Iím left looking at is a creature of tendrils that erupt from a small mouth stretched entirely too wide; a creature dressed in lilac-colored pants, and a pink jacket, and little red Crocs. Itís a windless day and I can hear the tiny, wet sounds the teeth make as they emerge, wriggling around before they pop free.

 The tendrils extend towards me, closer and closer. I donít scream or run because surely this canít be real, and, but I mean, come on, this isnít happening, this really is not a thing that can ever happen

I feel something small and hard gently tapping my hand.

I donít look down.

The saliva-covered tooth-string winds itself around my pinky finger. More come to join it. Slowly, each of the fingers on my right hand is lovingly embraced.

I close my eyes tightly, very tightly.

Three gentle taps between my eyes.

 Then, suddenly, almost instantaneously, my hand is free. I can actually hear them whipping back through the air, retreating-- no, retracting-- like a dog leash, or a measuring tape. I open my eyes and see the little girl with freckles, short brown hair, and beautiful hazel eyes. She looks proud of herself but sheís not looking at me any more, sheís looking at an advancing figure whoís just come out of the schoolís double doors.

ďHannah, itís time to go now. Got your backpack?Ē

ďYeah, itís over there.Ē

ďGo get it, sweetie, and then weíll go pick up dad. Hurry up.Ē

 As Hannah runs to collect her bag from where she had evidently tossed it earlier, her mother looks in my direction, noticing me for the first time. She gives me a friendly ďhiĒ and sincere smile and it is exactly like her daughterís smile in shape and relative width, but this is the tired smile of someone relieved to be off work for the day. She is a beautiful woman and she certainly has a beautiful daughter, and Iím crazy, thereís no other explanation for it; Iíve gone crazy, Iím crazy.

ďAre... are you alright?Ē

Shit, shit, Iím staring, Iíve been staring with God knows what expression and Iím not smiling, Iím not saying hi back, look at her, oh God Iím making her nervous.

 I swallow and regain my composure as best I can, with a hi, yeah, no, sorry, Iím alright, itís just been a long day, and then a short, strangled laugh. Itís then that Hannahís feet come crunching back over the gravel. She has her Finding Nemo backpack slung over her shoulders and they leave together, walking to the parking lot. Her mother does not speak to me again, or wave a polite goodbye.

 However, Hannah does. For just as moment as they walk away, she turns around and gives me a little wave and I just stand there and Iím aware that Iím waving back; waving like the Queen, no less. Why am I doing that.

I turn around and set off for home, walking briskly, running my tongue over my front teeth nervously, and I canít help but think that


Oh god

One of them feels loose