Alanah rolled the tooth over and over in her fingers, fascinated at its perfect, pearly, smooth outside. She touched the space where her own front tooth was missing and giggled.
"Alanah, hon? What's that in your hand?" Her mother walked over to her, placing her debit card securely in her wallet. "Oh, honey, did you lose another tooth?"
Alanah looked up to her mother and smiled. "No, mom. It came from here. Who will the tooth fairy visit? Can I keep the dollar?"
Her mother shuffled for her cell phone and dialed three numbers. Alanah could tell because there were only three beeps.
"Yes, hi. My name is Cathy Willows. My daughter just found a tooth in a gumball machine... Okay..." Alanah's mom grabbed her daughter's free hand.
Alanah looked again at the tooth she held on to. It had to have been - what was it called - a canine! She thought that was silly because that's what dogs were also called, and it didn't look anything like a dog. She found it odd that it was almost symmetrical, and she wondered if hers was like that. She felt around in her mouth, tracing the outline of her canines and molars, touching each point with the tip of her tongue. Her mother grabbed the tooth from her fingers with a napkin and folded it up. She looked up at her mom, stuck out her lower lip, and stitched her eyebrows together.
"Okay, darling. That was an adventure. The police will be here soon."
The police. The brave men in blue! Alanah could hardly contain her excitement. "Neat!" she said. She had just been taught about policemen and firemen and doctors in school. She always knew what they were, but she learned about what they do for work. Police protect and serve, firemen put out fires, and doctors make you feel better. She didn't understand why the police would be there soon.
Her mom led her to the bench outside. It was hot, and the bench was in the sun. "Mom? Can we go sit in the shade instead?" Her mom looked over to the nearest tree, which was on the other side of the building.
"Yes, darling. That sounds like a great idea." They walked over to the shade and sat on the grass.
"Mom? Why are the police on their way?" As soon as the words were out of her mouth, a police car pulled up beside them. The policeman that was driving got out first, the other was on a computer in the car. Alanah thought that was amazing. She knew what she was going to ask for for her birthday.
"That's me. Hi." Alanah's mom walked to the police man. Alanah followed behind her, holding on to her dress. "This is Alanah. She's the one who found the tooth."
"You found the tooth?" The policeman knelt down to look Alanah in the eyes. He was a nice man. She could tell. She nodded and blushed for the first time. It felt strange, both hot and cold at the same time. He smiled. "Well, Alanah, you did a great thing. You see, this isn't any ordinary tooth."
Alanah had found something extraordinary. And here she thought is was just a silly little tooth.
"You see, this tooth might actually belong to a guy named Walter. Do you know any Walters?"
She shook her head no. Then she shook her head yes. There was a boy in her class named Walter, but he hasn't lost any of his teeth yet. He was still a baby.
"You do? Well, this guy wasn't very nice. Is the Walter you know nice?"
He was nice, she shook her head yes. She hoped that this policeman was going to fall in love with her mom. He was nice, too.
"Well that's good. It's probably not your friend Walter's tooth. Good work, today, Alanah. Maybe you'll be a police woman one day. You'd make a good one." He stuck out his hand to shake hers. She obliged. His hands were rough and strong. He stood up.
"Thanks for the call, Miss Willows. Would you like for us to contact you later regarding the case?"
"No. Thank you."He smiled a short smile and nodded his head. Alanah watched as he took out a Ziplock baggy and dropped the tooth into the bag. She wished real hard that the tooth wouldn't get back to Walter. After all, he wasn't very nice.