They straightened my teeth and now my fingernails ache. I can feel them growing. It hurts. I checked Wikipedia and they called them horns. I can feel my horns growing. That’s weird to say — horns. But maybe calling them horns makes sense. Do antlers hurt when they’re growing? I guess antlers are the same as horns. Is that why a buck rubs his antlers on the forest trees? Or does that have something to do with mating? I checked Wikipedia again and they said deer rubbing happens during the rutting season — mating season. But I bet those growing antlers still hurt. If my horns hurt and they’re less than a fraction of a fraction of something, then I know those bony horns rising out their soft, brown heads has to hurt. And their heads — so small. I know because Mom collects deer skulls. It’s weird. Dad left and it’s the only thing Mom does differently. The dogs keep dragging them into the yard and she keeps hanging them on nails in the basement.
Man, my horns hurt. If only I could get to them. Work them back a little, but they pulled my working-back tooth. It was the one right out front, right out in front of the others. The others crowded in behind the working-back tooth like they were scared of something. Then they pulled my working-back tooth and the huddled teeth got put in a picture-perfect row. That’s what the orthodontist said. Picture perfect. From now on, our family portraits will be picture perfect, he said. But there’s nothing picture perfect about me not working back these horns. So, I miss my working-back tooth. And the deer, they keep scraping their horns up and down the tree barks and making these deep moaning noises. Maybe they miss something too. I can hear them early in the mornings outside my window, and now that I know we both have horns — maybe I’ll rub my fingers against the wood of my bed when I hear them. I’ll do this and hope the pain from my horns goes away soon.
DANIEL THOMPSON is an urban planner in Richmond, VA, where he lives with his wife and daughter. You can read his first published story in Bartleby Snopes.