She looks down and sees her bottom jaw resting on the ground by her feet. Carefully, she picks it up to assess the extent of the ruin but it is clear: her mandible has entirely detached itself from her head and now sits quietly in the palms of her shaking hands. It half-smiles at her, just as it had done so many times before at handsome strangers and bad jokes.
As if newly erupted from the grip of the ivory bone, her teeth form a sparkling semi-circular row. She studies the teeth, noticing that, where they are not laced with blood and saliva, they are obscenely white, almost iridescent. With claret edges, her teeth look like menstruating pearls. They look delicate and indestructible.
She begins to run and so does the blood: it trickles through the gaps in her fingers, collecting in the crease of her elbow before dripping onto the pavement, leaving a trail behind her. The blood is gooey and viscous, and though it looks too dark to be fresh it keeps on flowing. A mess of bloody saliva pours from her jawless mouth, down her neck and settles in a sticky pool on her chest. When she tries to spit out the taste of rusty nails and panic, she discovers that she has no tongue.
The unfamiliar residential street is curiously busy for 3 a.m. and she knows a lot of the people that she passes. She stops to ask everyone she sees to help her to put her jaw back in place. She is met with bemused faces. She screams and shouts and begs but no sound emerges from her, just the occasional crimson gurgle. She looks pleadingly at the passers-by then looks down at the jaw in her hands, motions fitting the jaw back to her head and then looks back at her potential saviour, praying they’ll understand. They look at her with pity and faux-guilt, apologise and say things like, “Sorry, dear, I’m in a rush,” “I’m not a dentist, unfortunately,” and “Oh, I don’t really want to get involved.”
The fact that she can’t properly communicate to ask for help, or even find out what has happened to her, frightens her and causes her far more distress than the fact that her jaw has fallen off. She tries to communicate using her eyes; she is certain that her eyes must surely convey the horror, confusion and desperate need to be helped that she cannot speak aloud. But no: she is ignored and unsaved. Tears tumble down her cheeks, over her top lip and straight down to her chest to mingle with the rest of the mess of fluid. She tries to spit again and grows frustrated upon remembering that she can’t. She runs out of tears and sits under the glow of a streetlamp, with her bloody, perfect jaw beside her, and hopes for somebody to throw her a tissue at least.
Sometimes she wanders about the strange town for hours, begging for help through her eyes, frenzied, covered in blood and clutching her jaw in her hands, rocking it slightly as if it were an injured bird. Sometimes she gives up after a few minutes and resigns herself to living a life of silence, with only her bottom jaw for company. Sometimes she smashes her jaw against an orange brick wall, sometimes repeatedly, hundreds of times, but it always stays whole. Nobody ever helps. She no longer believes that someone will eventually come along and fix her because nobody ever has before, and she knows that if she expects nothing, she will never be disappointed, only ever pleasantly surprised. She remains mute and hungry and ugly and cries and cries and cries, but she never dies. She is, after all, built of the same matter as her jaw: she is delicate and indestructible.
Originally published at Hijacked Amygdala here.