Ethan wandered around the kids section, running his fingers along the spines of the colorful books slotted in the bookshelf. Ethan was completely uninterested in the kids books, and disappointed that he was stuck with his classmates looking at little kids books. Even though he was only six, he wanted to read the big books, like Harry Potter, and Percy Jackson. But no, Mrs. Harvey said her class had to stick with books that would help develop their reading skills at their age. Ethan rolled his eyes, and huffed, listening to Mrs. Harvey talk to Alice, the teacher’s pet of course.
“Thank you Mrs. Harvey! I’ll even finish reading it tonight!” Alice exclaimed.
“Good Alice, the faster you finish it, the faster you can get a new book.” Mrs. Harvey said.
Alice skipped off to a table to read her new novel. Ethan groaned at the sight of her book. He decided to ask Mrs. Harvey if he could also get a bigger book. He didn’t want one of the easy to read books. Ethan approached his teacher and asked, “Mrs. Harvey, can I get one of the Percy Jackson books? I promise I’ll read the whole thing this time.”
Mrs. Jackson removed her glasses and looked up from the papers she was grading, then combed her graying hair out of her eyes. “Ethan we already talked about this, last time you got a chapter book you got frustrated because you couldn’t finish it before the due date. If you show me you can get through one of the smaller books, we can try a bigger book again.”
“But I really-”
“No buts Ethan, now go on and find something in the 1st-grade section.”
“Fiiiine,” Ethan groaned and dragged his feet back to where some of his peers were sitting. He started walking along the bookshelves again, dragging his fingers along the books while staring at the floor. He refused to pick out a book at all this week, Ethan thought it would prove to Mrs. Harvey that if he didn’t read anything at all, she would be forced to let him read a bigger book.
Mrs. Harvey approached the 1st-grade section where the kids were sitting in the aisles reading their books. “If you haven’t picked out a book yet, we only have 10 more minutes in the library before we head back to class. So find something quick if you haven’t decided.”
Ethan continued to run his fingers along the books, and he accidentally knocked a book down off the shelf. He turned around and looked at the large black book. It looked like a picture book to him, but there was no picture on the front. It read Sweet Tooth, in an odd font that looked similar to it being scribbled on with a crayon.
“Sweet tooth?” Ethan mumbled to himself. He knelt down beside the book and flipped open the book. It was a picture book, actually a book with only pictures. Ethan flipped the pages over and there were no words at all. Every page had a picture of a pitch black looking man, except he had no head. Instead of a head, on the torso were three mouths, showing smiley white teeth. Two mouths were in the position of where the eyes would be on a face, and the other one right below them in the middle, forming a trinity of mouths on the black torso.
“That’s kinda creepy,” Ethan whispered. Ethan continued to page through the pictures, each picture was of the black figure stuffing sweets into his three mouths. Cakes, ice cream, candy, waffles, chocolate, all sugary foods that looked like he was stealing from pantries and cupboards around different houses. Ethan looked up to see if anyone was watching him look at this book. “Stupid book,” he mumbled, and just as he was just about to put the book back on the shelf there it was. The creepy black figure with three mouths, sitting there in a wooden chair in the corner, by the kids magazines.
The figure smiled with all three of its mouths, showing his perfectly white teeth to Ethan. It raised its jet black hand and waved at Ethan. Ethan looked over his shoulders to see if he was waving at anyone else, of course, nobody else was around him. Ethan slowly raised his arm and waved back. The figure smiled even wider and clapped his hands, the claps echoed through the library. Ethan looked around to see if any of his classmates noticed the sound, but nobody seemed bothered by it at all. Ethan rubbed his eyes with his knuckles. No, stupid, stupid, stupid, Ethan thought to himself. “You’re seeing things again, you must have forgotten to take your medicine this morning,” Ethan whispered to himself.
Ethan walked away from the figure, towards Mrs. Harvey. “Uhh.. Mrs. Harvey, can I go to the nurse? I think I forgot to take my medicine this morning,” Ethan asked.
“Are you sure? You seem okay.”
“I uhh.. I’m hearing voices again,” Ethan whispered so nobody else could hear.
“Okay, did you find a book?” Mrs. Harvey asked. Ethan looked down at the book still in his hands.
“Uhh, yeah,” Ethan flashed the book quickly to her.
“Okay, then check out the book at the desk and come back to the classroom when you take your medicine at the nurse’s okay?”
After Ethan visited the nurse and took his medicine, he approached his classroom. As he opened the door, all his peers looked at him for a second and looked back at Mrs. Harvey standing in the front of the room teaching math. As Ethan sat at his desk, he slid the book into the desk under his books and pulled out his math textbook. After Ethan was starting to get caught up with the lesson, he heard a humming sound behind him. He turned over his shoulder and there he was again, the figure with the three mouths. He was sitting at Mrs. Harvey’s desk and humming the ABC’s song as he looked up at the letters that hung along the edge of the ceiling.
“Ethan!” Mrs. Harvey snapped. Ethan whipped his head back forward. “Come on Ethan, let’s get focused.” As Ethan was trying to focus on the lesson, all he could hear was the figure humming behind him. Throughout the rest of the day, Ethan had to deal with the figure meandering about, usually in the corner of a room. The day dragged on, and he couldn’t get him out of his head.
Finally, the day ended and Ethan sat in his seat on the bus. He put his forehead on the back of the seat ahead of him and closed his eyes as he let out a sigh. Ethan’s seat mate, Eric sat down next to him as the bus was pulling out of the school.
“Hey, you okay?” Eric asked.
“Yeah just resting my eyes. I kinda have a headache,” Ethan replied, still with his eyes closed.
“Oh, I hope you feel better. I’ll be playing my DS if you wanna watch.”
As the bus came to its stops and dropped off more kids, the bus got quieter and Ethan had the seat to himself after Eric’s stop. Then somebody sat down next to him as the bus pulled away. Ethan peeked through his left eye and snapped up. There he was again, with his mouth eyes staring right at him. All three mouths smiled at him like a giddy little kid that just won a prize at the fair.
“Will you leave me alone, please? You’re getting me in trouble.” Ethan whispered. The figure frowned at him and slouched in the seat. “Look it’s nothing against you, it’s just sometimes I see things that other people can’t see. It gets me into a lot of trouble sometimes.”
The figure sat up in the seat a bit and pointed to Ethan’s backpack on the floor between his feet. Ethan pulled up his bag and zippered it open, taking out the book. “Is this your name? Sweet Tooth?” Ethan asked. The figure nodded his torso in agreement.
“So you really like desserts and stuff huh?” Ethan asked, opening up the book. The figure hummed and licked all three of his lips. He excitedly poked at the page where he was eating cake.
“Look if I give you some sweets, will you leave me alone?” Ethan asked. The figure nodded back. “Good, I have a pantry at home, I’ll let you have some if you leave after that okay?”
Ethan crossed the street to his house and Sweet Tooth followed behind him. He pulled open the front door and kicked off his shoes as he walked toward the kitchen, where his mom was sitting at the table reading a magazine. “Ethan, how many times do I have to tell you to-” Sweet Tooth pulled the door shut behind him as he entered behind Ethan. “Close the door shut behind you?” she mumbled.
“Hey Mom, do we have any cake?”
“Uhh, no, and is it windy outside? Did the wind just blow the door shut?”
“No that was my new friend Sweet Tooth.”
Ethan’s mom was the only one who went along with all of his imaginary friends. Supposedly, sometimes acknowledging what a child was seeing as opposed to constantly saying everything isn’t real is better for a child that has schizophrenia, according to his new doctor at least.
“Sweet Tooth huh? Is this an imaginary friend you made up. Or, did he kinda just show up like last time?”
“He just showed up, and he really likes cake. So we don’t have any?” Ethan asked. Sweet Tooth crept into the kitchen behind Ethan. One of his tongues hanging out as his other two mouths were smiling at his mother.
“No, we don’t. But we do have honey buns. But Sweet Tooth can only have one, okay?” Ethan’s mom said as she walked to the pantry.
“That’s okay.” Ethan’s mom came out of the pantry with the pastry in hand, handing it to Ethan.
“Thanks momma, is it okay if Sweet Tooth can eat it in my room? I want to show him my Legos.”
“Uhh.. sure hun.” Ethan ran to the stairs with Sweet Tooth right on his heels, all tongues hanging out just inches away from snatching it right out of Ethan’s hand. As Ethan entered his room, he slammed the door shut behind him right after Sweet Tooth entered. Sweet Tooth was grabbing at the pastry as Ethan held it up in the air and behind his back.
“Nuhh uh uh! Say please!” Sweet Tooth frowned, then clapped his hands together in a begging motion. “Okay fine, good enough.” Ethan tossed the pastry at him, and Sweet Tooth snatched it out of the air and launched it into his lower mouth without even taking the wrapper off.
“Uhh, you’re supposed to unwrap it first, stupid.” Sweet Tooth burped back at him after he finished chewing. “You really can’t talk at all huh?”
Sweet Tooth shook his head.
“Alright then, we had an agreement. You have to leave me alone now.”
Sweet Tooth shook his torso in defiance violently.
“Okay fine, you can stay here until morning. But you gotta go after that!”
Sweet Tooth smiled with all of his mouths.
“I’m taking that as a yes.”
Ethan showed Sweet Tooth his Legos, his Hot Wheels, and his favorite game on his DS, Pokemon. After Ethan ate dinner, did his homework, and his evening chores, all while Sweet Tooth followed him around the house, it was his bedtime. His mother tucked him into bed, shut off the lights, and left the door open a crack to let in a bit of light. Sweet Tooth smiled at him in the darkness, showing his three sets of pearly white teeth. He sat in the corner and hummed as Ethan lulled to sleep.
When Ethan was shaken awake by his mother, Sweet Tooth was nowhere to be found. He got dressed for school, ate breakfast, and helped his mom pick out what he wanted to be packed in his lunch. As he struggled to tie his shoes tightly, Ethan’s mom shouted at him from the kitchen.
“Ethan! Where is all the food!”
“What?” Ethan asked confused.
“The honey buns, the cereal, the Pop Tarts, they’re all gone.”
“I don’t know. Sweet Tooth must have taken them. Don’t worry he’s gone though, he had to leave by morning.”
“Ethan. You can’t be taking food whenever you want. That’s way too much food to eat, no wonder you didn’t eat much of your breakfast.”
“No I just wasn’t very hungry. I told you it was-”
“Enough with Sweet Tooth! Just.. tell me where the food is so I can put it back, please?”
“Mom I don’t know where it is.”
“Ugh.. Just.. Go wait for your bus!”
Ethan slung his backpack over his shoulder, opened the door and turned to look at his mom. “Mom I’m sorry, I’ll help you try and find it after school.”
“It’s fine.. Just have a good day at school,” she sighed.
Ethan’s day went fine at school, there was no sign of Sweet Tooth, and his medicine seemed to be working well. He wasn’t seeing or hearing from anyone or anything. When his bus dropped him back off at school, his mother greeted him at the door. “You ready to tell me where the food went. I looked all over the house for it.”
“Mom I told you. I don’t know where it is. Sweet Tooth took it.”
“Okay Ethan, well why don’t you go up to your room and think about it, and don’t come down until you remember where you put it. And if I check on you and see you playing your DS, I’ll take that from you for a week.”
“But Mom! I told you I-”
Ethan stomped by her, kicking off his shoes and slinging his bag on the floor. He stomped up the stairs and slammed his door shut behind him. He flung himself onto his bed and screamed into his pillow. As Ethan breathed into his pillow while lying face down, he heard something humming. He perked his head up and the humming seemed to be coming below him. Ethan hung his head off the side of the bed, and there he was. Sweet Tooth was lying under his bed, drawing on a piece of blank paper with crayons.
“What the heck are you doing here? I thought I told you to leave me alone.” Sweet Tooth crawled out from under the bed and held up a picture of a badly drawn piece of cake. He pointed to it, and then pointed to one of his mouths.
“I don’t have anything for you to eat! You took it all!”
Sweet Tooth frowned and plopped himself down on the floor. He flipped over the piece of paper and grabbed a crayon from under the bed. He started drawing something and held up the picture to Ethan after a minute. It was a picture of Sweet Tooth eating a stick figure.
“What are you saying you eat people too now?”
Sweet Tooth turned over the piece of paper, pointed to the cake and nodded no. Then pointed to the picture of him eating the stick figure, then nodded yes.
“Soooo.. If you don’t eat sweet stuff. Then you eat people?”
Sweet Tooth nodded his head in agreement. “Well I don’t have any sweet things! You ate them all, and if you eat me, or my mom you definitely won’t get any cake or honey buns ever! So we are off limits!”
Sweet Tooth frowned. “Besides you got me in trouble! I can’t leave my room at all tonight because you took all the food from the pantry. Which you probably ate, so now I’ll never get out of here. And now my mom doesn’t even believe you’re real. Look just leave me alone for a bit okay?”
Ethan got up from his bed and walked down the stairs. His mother was sitting on the couch watching one of her hospital shows. “I thought I told you to stay in your room. Are you going to tell me where the food is now?” She asked, turning toward him.
“I ate it all.”
“I’m sorry, I really don’t know why I did that. I won’t do it again.”
“Why would you do that, and how were you able to eat that much food?”
“I don’t know. I just.. I don’t know Mom. I’m really sorry.”
“Come here Bug, sit down,” She motioned for him to sit down next to her. Ethan sat down, with his hands meshed together in his lap as he looked down at his socks. “Look, sometimes we all get a bit of a sweet tooth every now and then. But, that’s not good for you and you could have gotten really sick. I’m not mad at you for eating the food. Just for how much you ate, and for lying to me. Next time, just ask and maybe you can have a little.”
“But don’t think you’re getting off scotch free. No more sweets at all, for a whole month. Okay?”
“What? But I didn’t.. Okay..”
“Now do you have any homework?”
“Okay well, get to it.”
Ethan sat at the kitchen table doing his homework as his mother made dinner. They ate fairly quietly, and Ethan went back up to his room still a bit disappointed about not being able to have any of his favorite foods. When he got back up to his room Sweet Tooth was sitting on his bed bouncing up and down staring at the picture of the cake he drew.
“Listen Sweet Tooth, you need to go. You can’t be around me anymore. I got grounded from sweet food, so there isn’t going to be anything here for you anyway. Try somebody else’s pantry okay?”
Sweet Tooth frowned at him and slunk his torso sadly.
“I don’t have anything for you! Now leave me alone and don’t come back! Ever!”
Sweet Tooth shook his head in defiance.
“GO!!” Ethan screamed pointing at his door. Sweet Tooth got up from the bed and instead of walking towards the bedroom door he walked to the closet, opened the door, and pulled it shut behind him.
“Oh no you don’t. You need to leave, leave. Like actually leave.” Ethan stomped to his closet and pulled the door open, “Now get.. Out?” Sweet Tooth wasn’t in the closet. Ethan cycled through his clothes hanging up, and nothing was there. Ethan turned around, scratched the top of his head and shrugged.
“I guess he really left.”
That wasn’t the last Ethan saw of Sweet Tooth though. He would periodically show up in random places throughout the school. In the classroom, in the cafeteria, the library, during gym class. He would always show up in the corner of the room, with the picture of the cake he drew in hand, and he would look right at him and point to it. Ethan always shook his head no, and turned away. Then whenever he would look back, he wouldn’t be there anymore. Then, for awhile, Ethan almost thought he was gone for good. He didn’t show up for almost an entire week, but this time he came back very different.
Ethan had gotten in trouble that day early in the morning. He was being teased by one of his classmates and so he tripped him and he scraped his knee on the mulch when he was walking into school. Ethan got lunch detention for the day, which meant he wasn’t allowed to eat his lunch in the cafeteria, he had to eat lunch in the classroom alone while Mrs. Harvey sat at her desk. That’s when he appeared. Ethan was sipping his milk when he heard him humming behind him. He turned and there he was, standing behind Mrs. Harvey. Except, he was different. Instead of his three small mouths, he had one big mouth right in the center of the torso.
Sweet Tooth’s torso turned right to Ethan, and he smiled. He showed his one giant set of teeth in the center of the torso and held up the picture of the cake. He flipped the picture around and pointed to him eating the stick figure. Ethan shook his head violently at him, feeling the heat leave his face, he started to tremble. Mrs. Harvey looked up at Ethan.
“You okay Ethan? You look a bit pale?” Ethan brought his hand up to his mouth, covering the bottom half of his face as he shook his head at Sweet Tooth. Sweet Tooth then nodded his torso in a yes motion, then opened up his mouth. Strands of saliva dripped down from the roof of his mouth onto his tongue as he licked his teeth. He then hovered his mouth over Mrs. Harvey’s head. He lowered his torso with his mouth open and engulfed her face, then clamped his teeth down onto her neck. Mrs. Harvey flailed her arms up to her face, only to have her wrists snatched by Sweet Tooth’s hands. Then, the crunch of his teeth snapped her neck as he pulled her head right off her shoulders, leaving her headless body slumped in her chair. Blood rushed down her corpse and soaked her clothes as her arms went limp to her side after he released her wrists. Sweet Tooth then plopped himself on the floor, chomping down on her skull as blood dripped from his mouth and onto the floor. All while he hummed his ABC’s and pointed to each letter as he crooned happily.