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Safely Kept
by Karen Rice
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Hot breath wafted down the nape of my neck, forming little droplets of moisture with each word.

“Where are my teeth?” Grandma hissed.

“Did you misplace them again?”

If looks could kill, I’d be having High Tea with Jesus. Grandma isn’t vain, but she does like what God naturally gave her to bite with, even if it’s got a different setting.

To my knowledge, she hasn’t lost her teeth before. But in the last three months we’ve moved from one town to another thanks to Mike’s job promotion. Quickly renting an apartment while waiting on the completed paperwork regarding our new house being built, Grandma joined us.

Sitting at my desk, I saw Mike’s large shadow sneak by. Hollering to my husband loud enough to shorten later conversations starting with “I didn’t hear you…” his footfall slowed as he debated wisdom of choices.

Questioning Hubby on the missing teeth, I crossed my fingers hoping the cat didn’t get a hold of them as he shook his head no.

Connie poked her head through the doorway. “What’s up?”

“Grandma can’t find her teeth.”

Horrified, my teen daughter blinked. I watched as her tongue ran over the front of her own pearly whites.

“Um…I’m having friends over, remember?”

Patting Grandma’s arm, she smiled. “It’s ok, we’ll find them.”

Narrowing her baby blues, she cut through the airspace between Grandma to me, and with steel-like resolve, repeated the words, silently pleading.

Nathan is almost 6. Braving his bedroom door, I prayed, hopeful that if this last human member of our family had borrowed the dentures for an experiment, and that it had not yet gone awry.

Splayed on the floor among all that had wheels were small piles of Superhero’s pooped out. A missing sock was commissioned as a snow-cave, crammed with more Heroes.

I squatted next to him, patting his backside. “Have you seen Grandma’s teeth?”



“In her mouth.”

“No, I mean this morning.”

“Yeah,” he said, flipping to sit up. Pointing to his closet, I knew exactly where they were.

The day we moved into the “Luxury” Apartments, we discovered the bygone days of Luxury minus 10 years. Our refrigerator with water and ice in the door no longer functioned. The thing-a-ma (minus ‘bob’) metal contraption beneath the kitchen cupboard was once part of built-in coffee maker. The bathroom Jacuzzi filled up with water, but no longer fizzled…and hidden beneath the carpet of my son’s closet, we discovered a floor safe.

Needing a key to open it, I went to the office to request one. “Why?” the Customer Service cheerfully chirped.

“Because…the safe is there.”

No keys available, I had it re-keyed, my husband sputtering. “We don’t have anything valuable to put in there!”

This comment was repeated during dinner. While Nate attempted to hide peas in his potato skin, we talked about what was valuable to each of us. Knowing peas wouldn’t top his list, I asked, “What would you put in there?”

“I dunno. Maybe my cars. Or Larry.”

Larry was his hamster.

He asked Connie. “Hummm. Probably my cell phone. Keeps me connected.”

Asking Dad, Father shared that it would probably be the car keys, since it was the one object he always had in hand or pocket.

Grandma said it was her photo album.

Mine was a shoebox painted blue where I kept all the ‘jewelry’ made of play-dough balls, macaroni noodles and wooden beads.

Using the safe as a game, we took turns every morning coming up with themes.

What would be most valuable for Dad? We placed a paycheck, Snickers Bar, TV remote, ATM card, reading glasses, deodorant, white sox, and his current novel.

Connie? We shoved all her hair-gear, make-up, cell phone, a shoe, and this month’s school calendar.

Nate’s day: Action figures, a rock from his collection, Hot Wheels, a dirty sock balled from under his bed, a picture of his bike, but not Larry.

Mine was only one object, the emergency phone number for 911. Lost in my computer writing while cooking dinner, I remembered to check on the food after the smoke alarm went off. No one was brave enough to 'fess up to putting the paper in the safe.

For Grandma we put in knitting needles, romance novel, cookbook, all the contents of her purse and her Bible.

Oh, and her teeth, carefully placed on top.

As we crowded around the closet, stepping over toys, taking stock of what we considered valuable, it was Connie whom piped up first.

“Well, maybe we should leave the Bible in, huh?”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Deborah Porter  14 Nov 2006

Karen, thanks for the smile today. I love this line:

"If looks could kill, I’d be having High Tea with Jesus."

But enjoying your article was a side bonus of the real reason I need to contact you. Could you send me a private message as soon as possible please? I need to get a bio note from you for the next FaithWriters' Anthology. I'll explain more when I hear from you. Could you please include your email address?

Thanks for that. Love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)


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