Sugar Eats Calcium

In a Boston apartment on St. Giles Road, Clara loiters by the windowsill. The January crisp
slinks past eyelet curtains, thieving the heater’s output. Goosebumps roughen her arms, but she
keeps vigil, giddy for her routine midnight sugar high.

Her gaze lolls across the panorama of the alleyway. Neon graffiti licks the lid of the
dumpster. Crushed cans and empty blueberry cases shuffle around as raccoons thrift. She
sponges up the scene not for the stellar view but for the supernatural.

Sure enough, an oyster pearl darts down the surface streets. Wings leave a temporary trail
of pixie dust, enough gold for another eureka era. The fairy wears a gumdrop dress stitched with
rock-candy crystals. Her skeletal white hair lashes the east current.

She perches on the ledge, bringing in a whiff of wet concrete. Clara extends her palm.

The fairy made her debut with a dozen wedges of fudge. The second day, she supplied
enough cotton candy to repopulate a blank sky. The third, lollipops galore. Yesterday, gourmet
gummies. A zoo of gelatinous grizzlies and earthworms, the fickle kind that change from sweet
to sour depending on their mood.

Today, the fairy reveals her bounty of saltwater taffies, each incarcerated in wax paper.
Here, little girl, take this apricot one. How about buttered popcorn, flavored with greasy kernels
off the cinema carpet?

Clara tears off the germ jacket of a purple confection and pops it in.

The corn syrup melds to her molars.

“You’re the Sugar Plum Fairy, aren’t you?” After half an hour at the kiosk, Daddy
nabbed two discounted tickets for The Nutcracker. Christmas Eve nearly evaded them at the
theater. The Sugar Plum Fairy ballerina capered with the celesta, muslin tutu in orbit. The
symphony was her puppeteer, holding her hostage in a kinetic prison, dictating every twirl and

Clara knew the ballerina wasn’t the real Sugar Plum Fairy. After all, fairies had wings.

The mere act of watching Clara devour the sweets made the fairy salivate. A proper meal
was long due, but fairy intestines repelled sugar. “Fairies never give their names for free,” she
tells her, then transmutes oxygen into a second batch. Clara pouts but accepts a spearmint taffy.

Orange creamsicle strikes a funny chord after mint.

Molasses and marshmallow engage in typical cousin rivalry.

Neapolitan neutralizes the state of affairs.

Cinnamon is a firecracker of regret. But cinnamon roll cools the heat with sham icing.

Soon, the amount of insulin in her veins could render the entirety of St. Giles Road
diabetic. When the seams of her belly threaten to rip, Clara scuttles back into the cotton sheets.

The fairy’s hands grow sticky from the uneaten gingerbread taffy. She tries to give it to
Clara, but she bats her away like a common housefly.

The fairy sniffs. Ungrateful brat. Not even a thank-you for all her trouble. Lips curled,
she roosts in the contour of the crescent nightlight. Electricity simmers her patience.

The mattress springs whine as Clara tosses and turns.

Meanwhile, melatonin and the sugar high wage a war. Grenades detonate with hormone
shrapnel. Barbed wire blockade nerve endings, routes to the cranial powerhouse.

At one o’clock, melatonin triumphs, her snores and chin drool evidence enough.

The fairy flutters over. Her glacé slippers barely dimple the pillow. She nudges the
gingerbread taffy betwixt her lips.

The confection sets to work.

Glucose decays her gums. That slug of a tongue, once the decomposer, decomposes. Acid
scrapes the enamel off her cuspids. With the means to fund its enterprise, sugar starts a breeding
ground for canker sores, charging per taste bud.

The fairy smirks before abandoning the windowsill.

The exam room is a biome of before-and-after braces snapshots, Invisalign ads, and other
hygiene propaganda.

The dentist pulls up an image on the screen and frowns.

Plaque tinges each tooth an off-white. A cavity chisels her front incisor. The black stain
had rebelled against the fluoride toothpaste and her father’s licorice root remedy, proposed by

Bacteria have committed arson. That pyromaniac! Criminal! Jury, see the evidence: a
charred hole in the (not so) prime real estate.

The verdict is guilty.

The dentist and his assistant pour over the tray of metal tools like a menu. At last, the
assistant orders the suction, the chef’s recommendation. Dry lips split into tectonic plates. The
dentist uses the probe, then the scaler. Gritty toothpaste rehydrates her mouth before the assistant
abuses the suction. Again.

While Clara shuts her eyes, the dentist draws a syringe to deaden her gums. Then the
forceps carefully excavate the spoiled artifact. Archaeology at its best.

After, he returns her tooth in a plastic bag. She marvels at the gap in the hand-held

“I extracted your central incisor.” Dr. Slovenko sheds his latex skin. “Tell me, how much
sugar do you eat on a daily basis?”

“A bunch. The Sugar Plum Fairy gives me candy every night,” she says. Her tongue
probes the tender gumline, mapping uncharted terrain. Imagine the reactions at school when she
sips from the juice box straw without unhinging her jaw!

She should charge per view.

He chuckles. “Well, when the Sugar Plum Fairy offers you candy, just don’t eat it. If you
don’t stop now, all your teeth will rot. Sugar eats calcium. Got that?”

She nods absentmindedly, still devising cutesy gimmicks. “Sugar eats calcium.”

In a Boston apartment on St. Giles Road, Clara paces by the windowsill.

Midnight, that sly convict, skedaddled without incident. No Sugar Plum Fairy, thus no
macarons nor toffee nor marzipan. Still, she waits.

In the end, fatigue wins out. She skulks back to her duvet.

Little does she know the fairy idles on the crescent nightlight, moonbathing to kill time.
As days had passed without a morsel, her white hair has dulled to cigarette ash. Her feline eyes
pin the girl in place; needles in moth wings. Clara doesn’t once toss or turn.

Nine minutes later, the snores and chin drool confirm any doubts. The fairy flits over
with a harrumph. To think! —The Sugar Plum Fairy? Please. Not that vanilla ditz.

Under the downy tent, she pays a dime for the incisor.

Then escapes with breakfast.

Avalon Felice Lee is an Asian-American Californian. She has been writing poetry and prose since the age of eleven. When not writing, she’s probably practicing cello, assaulting the ears of nearby victims.