Pulling Teeth
Kathrine Marks

As they walk through hallways of some school somewhere, they look at each and every new person that passed. All the fresh faces. 
Its the common question: Where’d all the time go? 
It’s the not so common question: When do I stop playing a grown up and actually become one?
It’s the more rare question: Who gets my code when I’m not in the school system anymore?
It’s like being a kid again. It’s like pulling teeth.
The fear happens first. 
The fear of pain overrides their knowledge of self improvement. 
The questions arise: What if it feels wrong? How do I adjust? What do I do if it changes? What do I do when it’s all over?
Students bump into each other. They don’t recognize all the new faces, but they won’t need to either. 
Then the tooth gets pulled. That jagged edge no longer disturbing the tongue that runs along it. 
At graduation students celebrate. They recognize the faces of elementary, middle, and high school friends. People they grew up with. People they’re leaving behind.
Now there’s nothing. Just gummy flesh, void of any hard surface. 
They’ve applied to colleges and trade schools and jobs. A few got accepted. A new tooth grows in. Then more teeth grow in. Bigger teeth. Sometimes too big, sometimes just right. 
Some teeth have a better chance. Some people get dealt a better hand.
That fear of the unknown stays ever present in their lives. 
Maybe they’ll have to start the process over. 
Maybe their next step leaves them at the bottom again.
Maybe they’ll never see each other again.
Or maybe when they drive home that last day, nothing will change at all.

Kathrine Marks