Teeth by Bailee Cofer

my friend liz had beautiful teeth and she knew it and she loved them

liz and her teeth moved to new york city in the summer

after a few months she got hit by a car as she crossed the street

no that’s not right she didn’t get hit she got smashed i’m talking



flesh against metal moving thirty miles per hour

her body ricocheting off a bumper to skid a bloody smear across asphalt

teeth everywhere

the car keeps driving

doesn’t slow down one bit to look at the body on the road

i was hit by a car once

riding my bike across the street at night in the rain

the crosswalk sign lit up and it told me to go

so i biked across the intersection then




metal bumper slammed my bike’s back wheel

but it’s just my back wheel

a stroke of luck of sheer happenstance a miraculous order of seconds

liz’s body my back wheel what’s the difference

the car slowed down for a moment but then completed his right-hand turn

son of a bitch

the bastards never stop

i skidded out but didn’t even fall over my squishy body still held its shape

didn’t crumple like liz’s

maybe liz felt secure as she crossed the street like she’s done a thousand times


a complete illusion

everything is one way and suddenly it all changes and teeth fall out of a broken mouth and clatter on concrete

liz’s body gets smushed and then put in an ambulance

the doctors shove a plastic tube down her throat

one half of her face is crumpled behind puffy swollen purple blue bruised skin

half her face is




no more eye socket or cheekbone or teeth

oh GOD her teeth

her prized possession

the thing she was most proud of

beautiful straight white rows






and they are gone

scattered on blacktop underneath red yellow and green lights

teeth don’t corrode

the hardest part of the human body

they outlast human corpses for hundreds of years

but liz is alive

she breathes through the tube she eats through the tube and after a long time

she eats and breathes without the tube

doctors rebuild her face and months later she looks the exact same as before

except her teeth

her eyeball is back

her pelvis reconstructed

all the bones rebuilt so that in a year liz trains for a fucking marathon but it’s not like before her back hurts her leg hurts her body hurts from so much titanium




somebody else decided she’d hurt for the rest of her life




here i am making it about myself

worrying about how to talk to liz

worrying about what questions to ask

worrying about her bionic body

worrying about the guy who ran her over

worrying about my own bike getting hit

and worrying about






i still have all my teeth in my head

they gave liz a manmade smile since they couldn’t put her real teeth back in

i don’t even know if they found them

they might still be sitting in an intersection where they will stay until a kid walks by one day and picks them up and plays with them before his mom takes them

and throws them in the trash

a stranger’s teeth sunken in the soft asphalt under a summer sun in new york city

not a child’s plaything

or maybe they are stuck in tire tread with other pieces of dusty gravel and pebbles

rolling down a highway in nebraska

or maybe they will just sink all the way underneath the melting blacktop and disappear forever

it doesn’t really matter

who gives a shit

wherever the teeth are they aren’t in liz’s head anymore

the doctors put fake ones in and she looks like herself but still

remember what matters


they aren’t her teeth.