Glimmer waited till the room was perfectly still, dark as pitch, and she could hear the child breathing steadily. Wings beating rapidly in a continuing figure of eight, an infinity of flapping, she hovered above the sleeping child.
She’d once seen a hummingbird hovering for nectar at a honeysuckle, body perfectly still, wings beating furiously, and she had felt a real kinship. The hummingbird, however, had stuck its tongue out at her, pulled a face, and flown of guffawing to itself.
Glimmer knew what she had to do; in and out, no dawdling, and under no circumstances be seen. She shook her head to refocus. She had a job to do.
She listened for the slow, deep breaths that told her the child had finally drifted into a dreamless state, then carefully, silently, she approached its head.
Under the pillow. Why did they always keep them under the pillow? Why didn’t they just leave them on the nightstand, or in a glass, or on the floor, or even still in their mouths? Glimmer could extract a tooth, quick as a flash, and completely painlessly. She’d been the best in her class at the Academy.
She landed lightly on the pillow, noticing how her feet sank into the cushioned pad beneath. Her wings slowed to a stop, and she crouched into a squat. She could feel the child’s breath warming her body, smell a hint of peppermint toothpaste. This was a good one. It took care of its teeth, brushing before bedtime.
She slid off the top of the pillow and onto the cool cotton sheets. Easing her way under the headrest, careful not to wake the child, Glimmer felt around in the dark for the tooth. It was warm and stuffy and smelled of old shampoo and stale spit, and her claustrophobia was rising. Down on all fours, with her wings tucked in tight to her body, she spread her fingers and toes out as wide as they would go, hoping to butt up against the cool enamel of a tooth.
Slapping and padding to the left, slapping and padding to the right. Then her hand hit a hard cold wall. Smooth against her fingers, she knew she’d found it. Glimmer reached out both hands and dragged the tooth towards her. The stifling air filled with a minty aroma. This child was really good. Even its discarded teeth were brushed.
Glimmer tugged her smooth shiny white minty treasure out from under the pillow. She lined herself up, gripping it with both hands and feet. She braced herself for the inevitable tug of gravity and flapped her wings hard. Up, up, up she went, aiming for the open window. She looked back to the sleeping child, a last goodbye.
On the nightstand a hundred more shiny white teeth lay scattered out of a clear plastic box. From the corner of her eye she just caught a glimpse of the letters emblazoned on the box…