Lots of things fall in autumn. Leaves fall. Apples fall. And sometimes teeth fall.
Andrea wanted her tooth to fall out. Her friend Jason had a tooth fall out at school. And her sister Janine had one fall out that morning at breakfast. It fell right into her grapefruit.
“My tooth is loose, too,” Andrea said. She opened her mouth wide. “See?”
Janine pushed it with her finger. “It’s not loose. You’re fibbing.”
No one at school believed Andrea either.
There was one person who would understand about an almost-loose tooth. Andrea stopped by the baker-lady’s apartment after school.
“My tooth is loose,” she said when the door opened.
The baker-lady had silver glasses that sat on the end of her nose. She looked at Andrea’s mouth carefully. “It’s going to come out one of these days for sure,” she said with a nod.
“But I want it to come out now,” Andrea said.
The baker-lady nodded again. “Waiting is hard. I hate waiting too.”
Andrea looked at the baker-lady’s mouth. “Your baby teeth already came out. What are you waiting for?”
The baker-lady leaned over. “I’ll tell you a secret. I’m waiting for a snowflake.”
Andrea giggled. That was a funny thing to wait for. You couldn’t put a snowflake under your pillow. It would melt. “Why are you waiting for a snowflake?”
“Because snowflakes mean it’s wintertime—time to visit my family in Michigan for Christmas. I have six grandchildren there.”
“Do they have loose teeth?” asked Andrea.
“Well, now,” the baker-lady said, “I don’t really know for sure. I haven’t seen them since last Christmas.” She brought out some crayons and a sewing box. “When I get tired of waiting for snowflakes, I make things. Right now I’m making gingerbread boys.”
“Like you made at the bakery before you retired?” asked Andrea.
“No. These are made out of cloth.” She showed Andrea a little brown corduroy gingerbread boy with white rickrack, button eyes, and a loop on his head.
“He’s a Christmas tree ornament!” Andrea cried, delighted.
“Yes. I’m making one for each of my grandchildren. Doing things for other people makes the waiting go faster.”
Andrea started coloring. She made a picture of the tooth fairy with a long white dress. The white crayon didn’t show on the paper unless she pushed down hard, and that made the tip break. She started to throw it away. Then she looked at it more closely. It looked like a tooth, small and round and hard.
Andrea stood up. “I’d better go home now,” she told the baker-lady. “I think my tooth is so loose that it will come out tonight.” She said it extra loud, in case the tooth fairy was nearby.
That night Andrea’s sister put her tooth under her pillow. “I guess I’ll have some money in the morning,” Janine said.
Andrea put her crayon tip under her pillow. “I guess I’ll have some money in the morning, too,” she said just loud enough for the tooth fairy to hear.
In the morning Janine found a new quarter under her pillow.
In the morning Andrea’s crayon tip was still under her pillow. She hadn’t fooled the tooth fairy at all. She put the crayon tip into her pocket and tried to wiggle her tooth on the way to school.
The baker-lady was outside planting tulip bulbs when Andrea passed her apartment. “Did that tooth come out last night?” she asked.
Andrea looked down at the sidewalk. “I guess it wasn’t ready after all.”
“Waiting is hard,” said the baker-lady. She got up with a little grunt. “Wait a minute,” she said. “I have something for you.”
She came back holding a brown corduroy gingerbread boy. He had a tiny pocket in front. “The pocket is for a tooth,” said the baker-lady. “He’s a tooth pillow. He’s for you while you wait for your tooth to fall out.”
Andrea held him tightly all the way to school. She loved his brown corduroy body. She loved his white rickrack. But most of all, she loved his tiny pocket in front. A tooth pocket.
At school she started to put the crayon tooth into his little pocket, just to see if it really was tooth-size. Then she decided that the gingerbread boy was for a real tooth. He would help her to wait for it.
Andrea looked at her crayon tip again. She had an idea. Maybe she could help the baker-lady to wait …
She rubbed the little white tip onto a piece of blue paper until there was no more crayon. Then she folded the paper into a tiny square. With her scissors she made little cuts in the folds. When she opened it up, there was a snowflake! It was the most beautiful snowflake she’d ever made.
After school she ran all the way to the baker-lady’s apartment, shoved the snowflake under her door, and ran. The baker-lady would know right away that it was a waiting snowflake and that Andrea had given it to her to help her wait to see her family in Michigan.
Andrea was happy and excited as she ran home. Doing things for other people did make the waiting go faster.