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Richard Krause


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His first thought was to check. Are they really her front teeth? Their evenness made him suspicious. The evenness he demanded, the proportion that would enable him to love her was also the basis for his deepest doubts. He remembered when they were out walking in the forest. “Oh, what teeth did the dentist work on?” he said nonchalantly. Actually her answer was of dire interest to him. She showed him. “And which of the teeth are not real?” he asked. “Uh, this one right here, and this one,” and she kept pointing around her mouth faster than he could calculate how many, what percentage of her teeth she was actually missing, before he could calibrate just what effect that would have on his own feelings for her. Was it forty per cent that were missing, and which ones, yes, that was important. Were the front two teeth real, she didn't point to them. He was dying to ask her. Finally, unable to help himself he blurted out, “And what about these?” “Oh, the front ones,” she backed away as she pointed to them. “Oh, they're alright.” But still he had his suspicions. Still they looked too straight for him. Then the incongruity of his questioning, his getting her to open her mouth--here in the forest with the tallest cedar trees all around, with the blanket of pine needles on the ground, and the sun sending a radiance of light on them--must have occurred to her, for she clamped her mouth shut like a vice and would answer no more questions. She in a soft fox coat, and he, he still trying to get a look inside her mouth, trying to extract from her, the best he could, the truth about her missing teeth.

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