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  • I woke this morning, agitated.
    I stepped outside, plonked my butt down on the retaining wall and lit up.

    Pale tendrils of smoke twirling up into the cool morning air, nicotine glazing my worries over some, batting down the hatches so to speak, I watched the flitting of birds. Swooping in and out and around and between the trees and branches, silhouettes against a dusty blue. Just don’t ask me what makes and models. All I could recognise were the doves and the swallows.

    My guess of two males competing for a female's attention drew mine higher and I watched a V of migrating birds beating their wingward way north, browned against the pinkened dawn. Their formation tattered slightly on passing, straggling at the rear like my thoughts but they flew on.
    My thoughts fluttered and fell.

    I had been born whole. Ten little fingers, ten little toes, a healthy little body with a cute button nose. Hair grew longer and teeth grew in later. All in all a comfortable little shell for me to reside in while here on earth. Today I was to lose a piece of this comfort zone, well, the remaining pieces. Some I had lost due to misfortune along the way. And my vanity will take the hardest knock of all. I received a heads-up 12 years ago and the day had finally dawned.

    Yes, skulls. Brings the dead to mind, don't they. Those we see in paintings and in glass cases and on the TV, extraordinarily clean. All a-gleam and bleached white clean. See, the eyes were in here. This is where the nose stemmed from and yes, all those teeth show us just where the mouth was. And I wonder at this constantly of late. How many times do we get to see a toothless skull? An um, we think the mouth goes here kind of skull?

    Only the good die young, such is the saying and such is me hoping I'm halfway there. There being the death of me, my cause to leave this shell behind. Thank heavens for cremations because this little lady isn't leaving her toothless skull behind to be found and cast aside because it is imperfect.

    8 sees me at the dentist
    10 sees me out

    I go into the DisChem on the way back, stand impatient and swaying in the queue waiting for the chance to present my prescription for filling
    I eventually am able to lean my dizziness again the counter and I hand the flimsy paper over
    Good Morning, she says
    Hm-mmm, say I, cracking the coagulated blood between my lips and the new dentures, my smile wan but closed
    She takes the offered paper, looks at it, raps a tattoo on the keyboard and asks: Have you been here before?
    Uh-uh, I shake my head just in case she misheard
    She pushes a little pad over to me, lays a pen square on top and asks me for name, number, address and date of birth
    I squiggle some, she types some, I twist the pad about, she types some more. This goes on for a bit
    All done, she says, whisking the prescription up, turning to scurry away between the aisles
    Oh boy, I think, hope not too long and all that, my mind shimmering to the right
    She gets back, stamping the containers down on the counter surface: You must take 1-2 of these 4 times a day (tapping the lid of the larger container) after eating, and I mean it, after a meal. Her eyes all knowing, her frown disconcerting
    I stare blankly at her, the container and then the surface of the counter. Forcing "take 1-2" between my numbed lips
    You must take 1 twice a day after eating (shiggling the smaller container at me) do you understand? After eating and you MUST finish the course!
    Hm-hm - finish it all, I murmur nodding like a delinquent
    A round of thank you's and I totter out of there

    I get back here, and as obedient as ever, warm some small jacketed potatoes, buttering them. I sit down in the overstuffed armchair bathed in sun rays, pull the plate closer and then burst out laughing. How neatly had I forgotten ... I had pushed reality right out of line.
    How the oook am I going to eat them?
    My real teeth are gone. Gums are swollen and useless. Biting down floods my mouth. Pain spangled nerves are jarred nuclear. So can't do that.

    What was he thinking?
    And just what can I eat in the meantime?

    Still laughing, I break off little bits and swallow them whole. That done, meds in, benefits beginning to bloom, I coast back outside and light up.

    Butt on a buttress, grey birds in the air
    Butt between fingers, why should I care

    Still smiling.
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