I have this slight dent in my left shinbone marked by a soft pinkish white scar. I got it in a minor bike accident. The other woman had no idea how to ride a bike it seemed and she ran into me, head on, despite my attempt to swerve out of the way. I scraped my wrist and roughed up my legs; it took me a minute to notice bike chain deep in my shin. I ignored my assailant and tore a piece of paper out from the notebook in my bag, sticking it to the sizable hole in my leg. I walked my bike away to my friend’s nearby apartment. She had the perfect double take of a smile at my face and wince at my leg. Together, we poured hydrogen peroxide over my leg in the bathtub, both of us yelling fuck at what was obvious pain. We let it dry a bit and then mixed vodka with fruit juice in plastic cups. It was eleven am.
Two weeks later, the wound was turning green. I told friends I was letting it air out but it seemed like more was getting in than out. I was too stubborn to go to the doctor and I waited for it to heal; it didn’t. I compromised with my friend and put a bandage on it, convinced it wouldn’t do a thing. Three days later, new skin had started to fill the hole like putty.
Around the same time, I went to a bar with a friend I wasn’t very close to. You know how you put your friends and acquaintances in groups without even realizing it sometimes? I do this with two distinct groups, the friends you can do anything and nothing with (i.e. your best friends) and the friends you have to have an activity with (i.e. a movie, dinner, the gym). This was a friend who I had to drink with to have any kind of good time. We went to a dive bar that didn’t card as I was still twenty and drank a lot of cheap mixed drinks. I couldn’t tell you what went on in that bar if you paid me.
It was a humid night and we rode our bikes home. The breeze felt wonderful as we coasted our way down a hill. I stayed in the bike lane while she rode all over the empty road. She was slightly behind me when I heard a thud. By the time, I looked over my shoulder, she had landed in front of me. I slowed and practically flung my bike away from me. She was face down on the asphalt when I reached her. I expected the worst. I knelt next to her when she lifted her face.
“Fucking hole in the road,” she said.
She started laughing and I gasped. Her face was beat up but her mouth gushed blood. The more she laughed, the more teeth fell out. I put my hands on her shoulder and told her to breathe and not move but she couldn’t stop laughing. I called 911 on my phone and could hear the ambulance’s sirens leaving the medical center by the time I hung up. I held my phone open over the asphalt to look for her teeth. I found six whole ones, roots and all, as well as some shards of others and put them in my purse for her. I thought of the little plastic container at my grandma’s house that held all the teeth I’d lost as a kid. It was shaped like a purple tooth. The last time I had opened it, I was surprised it didn’t smell worse.
I rode in the ambulance with her, teeth in my purse. She got blood on one of the EMTs because she couldn’t stop laughing; I wasn’t drunk anymore but she thankfully was. I fished her teeth out of my purse at the hospital and gave them to a nurse assigned to her case. I called a cab and washed the blood off my hands while I waited. I had the driver drop me off where our bikes still were and assured him it was ok to leave me in the street. I walked both of our bikes back to my apartment. When she came to pick up her bike a few weeks later, her jaw was wired shut. She peeled her dry lips away from her mouth to show me where they’d implanted the teeth I’d held onto. She nodded her thanks.
I sold that bike before moving to a city ruled by cars. I listed it on Craigslist for less than it was worth and sold it to a boy who was slightly too tall for it. I put his cash in my wallet while he looked at my books. He took out an Egon Schiele book but we ended up sharing a joint and playing Mad Libs. We kissed on my living room floor and didn’t exchange information. Through the window, I watched him ride right into traffic against the red light and never saw him or the bike again.