Teeth

by Tim Jones-Yelvington

His bedroom looked like a teen drama. He showed me vacation photos:his pearl smile perched on a rock. I had ideas for where to put those teeth. We flirted with pillows. We slapped each others’ heads. I slept on the floor. He said sometimes he liked to hug a pillow and pretend it was a person. He said I could get in bed if I thought I’d be more comfortable. I felt like certain mornings when my brain wakes up, but my body can’t move. The other day, I found his Facebook. He got fat, with that facial hair that clings to the chin like a mistake.

Tim Jones-Yelvington is a Chicago-based writer, multimedia performance artist, and nightlife personality. He is the author of two collections of short fiction—”Evan’s House and the Other Boys Who Live There” (in “They Could No Longer Contain Themselves,” Rose Metal Press) and “This is a Dance Movie!” (forthcoming, Tiny Hardcore Press). His work has appeared in Black Warrior Review, Puerto Del Sol, Harpur Palate, and others. From 2010-12, he guest edited [PANK]’s annual queer issue.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Teeth”?

    I’m not sure this is ‘interesting,’ exactly, since I think it’s actually quite common for flash and micro fiction—but the earliest draft of this piece was at least two or three times the length. I think very short work accumulates much of its energy from the gaps, so I cut away everything but my favorite sentences, and then attempted to add back whatever connective tissue I felt was needed. I struggled for the longest time to find the right sentence to describe the paralysis the narrator feels when the other boy invites him to join him in bed. This was a sentence that needed to exist, but I couldn’t seem to give it voice in a way that jived with the rhythm and poetry of the other sentences. I actually wrote the first draft of this piece a very long time ago—May 2010—and I had to put it away for four and a half years and come back to it in order to figure out how to write that sentence.
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