Saturday, July 28, 2012

GUATEMALA 2012: (23) Legend of the Tooth Fairy

"Dad, will the Tooth Fairy find me in

I eased open the door that led from the patio of the apartments at Mimi's House and closed it with a hand on the knob and a hand on the threshold, taking care that it came together without a sound. In sock feet I padded across the tile floor in the darkness and moved like a phantom to the top bunk that held my gap-toothed princess. I waited in the silence until I could anticipate the rhythm of her breath.

The night seemed to watch with anticipation. I could hear the woven fabric of the curtains rise and fall with the breeze coming through the split pane windows. Even the dogs in the distance fell quiet as if listening with standing ears.

Taking care not to knock the rail with my wedding band, by touch I found where the pillow met the sheets and began to ease my hand between the two, easing up her head as my fingers searched for the Ziploc bag that held the tooth. 

My hope was that it would be near the edge... but no, my daughter seldom makes things that easy. And so I withdrew my arm and again began inserting it underneath the pillow, this time a bit higher, near the headboard. I had to raise up on the tips of my toes and stretch as for the second time my effort lifted her head off the pillow. She began to move and her breath lost its pace. I froze. And held my breath.

In that moment, I heard her voice behind me as she softly cleared her throat. I had the wrong bunk! So, I slithered my arm from underneath Caleb's head and eased back down from my toes. The Tooth Fairy had to stifle a chuckle.

Pivoting on my heels in the darkness I stood like a sentinel for a full minute as again I counted the rise and fall of her breath. Did I dare go on? Was the operation busted? What if she had witnessed my lame fae attempt on her brother? No... surely she would have laughed, or cried, or startled... something?

I had to go on. The fate of the Tooth Fairy in Guatemala resided on me. My daughter's happiness in the morning was dependent on my resilience. The weight of the world! Hold onto the magic as long as you can... this world needs more dreamers. 

And so... having mastered my technique on what I now considered my practice run, I deftly ran my arm under her pillow, floated up her head with a smooth motion, spread my fingers and felt along the cotton weaves... and found nothing.

Does the Tooth Fairy ever get stiffed? I dropped to my hands and needs, and began timidly feeling along the edges of the wall, searching for the baggy holding the solitary canine. Although my eyes were blind in the opaque air, my imagination was on full blast. I knew that I would hit my head in rapid retreat on the bottom of the bed as my unprotected hand came into contact with a hairy spider, or the sting of a scorpian's tail. 

But still... the wonder of my daughter, and the memories that she would always carry were at stake. I pressed on... swiping frantically across the floor, beginning to feel sweat now bead along the spine of my back, and realizing that my own heartbeat was now desperate. 

Nothing was there.

In confusion I stood and assessed the situation. Surely I had missed something. This was supposed to be a simple task. Take the tooth... make the drop. What had I missed? 

And then I saw it. She had two pillows. One atop the other. And so, now a professional at this maneuver, my hand shot like a serpent between the pillows, grasped the plastic baggy, deposited the 10 Queztales bill and the 1 Queztales coin, and I left the shadowless room in triumphant retreat.

The sun arose softly over the mountainscape and Aleksandra silently has pocketed her booty. Nothing has been spoken about the exchange. Childhood has been salvaged for another day. The magic of possibility continues. Imagination has been fed and energy has been stored for another day. My children will be dreamers. They will embrace the impossible.

I want them to be visionaries. 

So for today... the question has been answered, like it was before we left and she posed the question. I remember my answer, delivered with a gleam in my eye and a sideways smile:

"We'll just have to wait and see."

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