There is a new girl across the hall who has long hair just like mine. I saw her through the crack where my wall does not quite reach the door. Her dress is old and too small and makes a real woman out of her girl's figure. We are so practically the same person that it is nothing to follow her in, to kiss in her bedroom and tell stories. She shows me the truth, shakes the hair back from her face so that I can see teeth grown into barbs, dissolved translucent like rattlesnake fangs, but venomless, fragile. This bracken mouth startles and intrigues me, for example, how do her lips survive? She must either be very careful or naturally soft-spoken to keep from gnashing them.
She explains about the teeth. I wasn't always like this. They grew in when I found my voice. She plays the harp and sings, demonstrating the swamp-crackle of those jaws opening and closing delicately around vowels, like swallowing eggs whole, spitting out the shells. The teeth are a curse. The room is a red gem around us, all of the air outside the lampshade is semi-solid, all the air inside it is combusting. This terrible curse. Her normal, God-given teeth elongated as she learned to play, and ran like icicles as she sang. Gradually the horror abated and she became used to these stalactites gleaming wetly, curving forward and out so as to penetrate the tightest smile.
I brush her hair in the lamplight, brushing the red light into it so that it shines molten, blood and gold. We will find a way to break this curse, I promise. And she sings for me especially now, with real hope that I am telling the truth.