‘Mark believing in the tooth fairy’s no excuse for bullying.’ ‘Gary’s just playing…’
‘Mark’s a baby, stop indulging him,’ Gary’s father sneered down the phone and hung up.
He sniffed and nodded. ‘He said he’d prove the tooth fairy wasn’t real so I asked him how and he punched me.’ He uncurled his tiny hand to show three teeth rusty with dried blood.
‘Darling, I have to go to work now.’ She hated herself for those words. ‘But Auntie’s here…’
‘Okay,’ he said, slinking upstairs.
She returned home late the following evening exhausted after a long shift, and crept in on Mark.
Something like an upright dragonfly loomed in the pooling shadows by his bed. It stood two metres tall; waxy, articulated wings fluttering and stopping rapidly, as if to keep itself balanced. The front legs, ending in curved claws like serrated spears, seemed to be knitting something near his head. She screamed and it turned.
The face was vaguely human, vaguely female.
Ruth slammed on the light and it vanished.
‘Are you hurt?’ she asked, running to Mark, appalled at the blood on his pillow.
‘Mummy!’ He threw his arms round her neck, smiling. She yanked the bloody pillow off the bed in disgust.
Gold coins the size of dinner plates tumbled onto the wooden floor.
The following evening she was phoned by her friend on the Board of Governors. She called for Mark.
‘Hon, I just heard from school.’ ‘Yeah?’
‘Gary… he’s dead.’ She didn’t tell him the teen had been found eviscerated in his bed.
‘It worked!’ he said, clapping.
‘Umm, don’t be angry. He always steals my lunch. So yesterday I put my teeth in one of the sandwiches and watched him eat them.’