Milk Teeth by Emma Kernahan

Milk Teeth

We got together, once the babies were born. In the usual place. This was where we would come to drink coffee and tell each other all the things we did not know about ourselves until that moment. That we brimmed with love until it sloshed from us, ran down the sides. That we had lived our whole lives just to see the curve of a tiny top lip. That we were capable of murder.​

‘Oh, definitely the murder thing,’ Sarah nodded, holding the baby with one hand and rummaging in her bag with the other. ‘It’s one of those things that​ just comes naturally.’

I hoisted my own baby across my waist, felt the pull of stitches, imagined the wound in my stomach puckering with disapproval. I patted her nappy through layers of soft cloth. It made a satisfying ‘thwock’.

If someone ever came to take our children away, we would kill them. That was easy enough.

‘Smash their head, ‘ Sarah said, and paused to think. ‘Or a good throat punch. But you’d need the element of surprise and, ideally, an electric hand-saw.’ Sarah was a jogger.

‘A bag over the head and a pen through the eye,’ I agreed, moving my hot drink away from the edge of the table.

I unclipped my bra, peeled it away from my breast and watched as my daughter shook her head greedily over the dried blood that was still stuck to my nipple. ‘Rooting’, the midwife called it, as if babies were woodland pigs. As if it were a team effort.

‘Life is so precious,’ I thought, hunched over, jaw clenched, my milk chattering through me like a stream of tiny, white teeth.

I swirled the very darkest hair at the base of her skull. I thought about intruders, and the pressure points behind their ears. My nails – and hers – so soft the ends peel away like​ orange pith, no need for scissors. Not that there was anything sharp left in the bathroom now, but like all mothers I was good at improvising and could definitely bite someone in the neck. Or anywhere gushy and arterial, really. Perhaps there would be a moment of tension beneath my lips before I broke the skin. If it was quiet enough, maybe I would hear the tiniest of pops. I stroked a small, protruding heel, cold and hard like a blister, and reached over, spearing a piece of cake with my fork. To be fair, I was still hazy on the logistics, but when it came to biting someone to death I assumed it would just come naturally.

Emma Kernahan lives in Stroud, Gloucestershire and writes short stories and flash fiction.  She also blogs as Crappy Living. Her work can be found in places such as Ellipsis Zine, The Occulum, Writers’ HQ, The F Word and McSweeney’s.  Last year she won the Gloucestershire Writers Network Prose Prize and was recently shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award. She spends far too much time on Twitter @crappyliving

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