This story was written for a writing competition. Write a short story, of 750 words or fewer, based on this prompt: A girl puts a quarter in a gumball machine and a human tooth comes out. http://www.writersdigest.com/your-story-competition/your-story-53
“It’s a sunny day out there, not a cloud in the sky. If you’re stuck indoors like us this one’s for you…” The radio DJs voice faded into “Working Man” by Rush. Sandra certainly understood the feeling. Having to get up at four in the morning and take three busses to get to work was horrible. Is this why she had mounds of student debt and a useless degree? To be a barista?
“Did he just say sunny?” she asked aloud. It wasn’t supposed to be sunny at four in the morning. “Shitshitshitshitshit!” She yelled as she jumped out of bed. It was certainly sunny outside and the clock read six fifteen. She was over an hour late and still had an hour’s bus ride ahead of her.
“Screw it I’m calling a taxi.” She picked up her cellphone. It was dead and she didn’t have a home line.
Grabbing a uniform from the top of her laundry pile, this was her eighth day in a row. She put the uniform on quickly and ran out the door. She closed the door still holding her cell and dropped it. When she picked it up it had a large crack. She had just bought it a month ago.
The elevator must have been broken again. She waited ten minutes and gave up, running down the eighteen stories to the ground floor. The outside smelt of mold and melting snow. She saw a taxi and tried to flag it down. It came closer to her and then sped up, creating a five foot high wave of slush as it passed by. She managed to avoid most of the ice but was drenched from head to toe.
When she finally flagged down a taxi she thought her luck was changing. The ride to work was unremarkable but that didn’t stop the driver from remarking. On everything he saw and thought. At one point she considered jumping out on the freeway.
Scrambling to get money out of her wallet she didn’t see someone open the door. She turned to leave and was struck in the face by a hard shelled briefcase.
“What are you doing in there?” asked the three piece suit attached to the briefcase.
“Getting out of a taxi…” she wanted to add some insulting names at the end but the taste of blood in her mouth surprised her into silence. He helped her out of the taxi and jumped in closing the door. Chivalry was dead, she thought, spitting out blood into a puddle. She passed her tongue over her teeth and found one missing.
The tooth was in the puddle that quickly drained into the sewers. She didn’t dare open her mouth to swear until she had something to stem the blood from her lost tooth.
Walking into her work she saw there was a long line of customers and only her boss to serve them. She hurried to the napkin stand and wadded one up into her tooth gap. She then hurried to help.
Turning away from a customer babbling about something, he looked at her and said, “I’m not sure what you think you’re doing but get the hell out of my store. You’re fired. This is the fourth time this week you’re late. Get out.”
Leaving, but not feeling like going back home, she walked around until the bleeding finally stopped. She’d have to go to the dentist but without healthcare or a job she’d never be able to afford it.
Outside a toy store in the posh shopping district she saw a gumball machine. She felt confident that a gumball was a bad idea considering her tooth, but really wanted the comfort of her childhood favourite candy.
“Are you planning on using that or just staring at it?” She was ready to attack the speaker but when she turned around she was amazed by how handsome he was and paused.
“Leave me alone, please. I’ve had a bad day.”
Seeing her face, which was bruising a beautiful black and purple colour, he winced and said, “As you wish.” He winked and walked away.
“What I wish was that I had my tooth back.” she replied snarkily.
Putting her quarter into the machine, she turned the dial. What came out was not a gumball, but a tooth and it looked just like hers. She held it for a few seconds and then it jumped into her mouth, right back into place.