It started one morning when I was eleven. I was at my friend's birthday party jumping on a trampoline. With every jump, I could see something glinting in the long grass in the overgrown field beyond the garden fence.
The sunlight seemed to sparkle off a shiny object and like a magpie, I was drawn to it. Without a word to my friends, I bounced off the trampoline and climbed over the fence. With my inbuilt radar set to ‘sparkle’, I trudged through the overgrown shrubs and nettles searching for the source of my attraction. And there I found a bottle.
It seems strange to me now considering most eleven-year-olds wouldn’t find a bottle interesting, but somehow it called to me. It spoke to the wonder of my soul.
Now, this was no plain Bottle. It was of bright blue glass and it was bejeweled in a wonderful but quite superfluous way. Even as a child I knew that. Its lid was wide and appeared to be of gold, but that couldn’t be, could it? Maybe just some shiny metal to go with the colored stones around it. Still, strange as it was I liked it, and so I took it. I slipped off my jacket and carefully wrapped the bottle within its protective confines and ran home.
I hid the bottle in the back of my wardrobe and went back to the party, arriving just in time for ‘pass the parcel’. I couldn’t concentrate though, as my prize was awaiting me at home.
As young boys and girls are want to do, I ate candy, ice cream and a slice of chocolate cake the size of a dinner plate that day. Punch-drunk on sugar by the time I got home I felt a rush I would now associate with being drunk. To this day, however, I have never felt the need for alcohol. Sugar gives me all the rush I need.
Growing up I was never allowed many sweet treats but that party started an obsession within me that I have to this very day. I enjoy nothing more than watching television with a tall glass of cola and a chocolate bar. Ice cream for dessert. Cake for my supper. I just can’t get enough. In a world where there are worse vices, I am happy with my little indulgences.
I had always loved sugary snacks, most kids do and so it never bothered me. My mom tried to scare me off my sugar gluttony with stern warnings of dental cavities. It never stopped me though.
I can remember one fateful Halloween when she found me hiding in my bedroom eating a huge mound of chocolate, and sweeties and gobstoppers, and all sorts of delights. She confiscated the lot and sat me down and told me of the true horrors that would await me in the dentist's chair.
The noise of the long needle piercing my gum. The high-pitched wail of the drill when it gouged into my cavity strewn teeth. And the pain, god the pain I would have to endure if I didn’t give up gorging on ‘that sugary poison’.
Suitably chastened I told mom I would stay off the sugary goodness. That was, until my next dentist appointment when, much to my mom’s consternation I was proclaimed cavity-free and got a gold sticker. I wasn’t surprised then and I am less so now.
At the ripe old age of 72, I still confound modern dentistry with my beautiful smile and mouthful of perfectly white teeth. They can’t explain it, but I can.
Each night before I go to sleep I don’t brush my teeth. No, instead I reach to the back of my wardrobe where my prized bejeweled bottle still lives. Gently, careful not to drop it, I take a soft cotton cloth and polish it with all the love and attention a fine household may lavish upon their silver service.
Before leaving it back I can never resist unscrewing the lid to get a better view of the thirty-two ethereal forms that had gathered in ones and twos over the years, within its depths. My incisors and premolars and molars and all the rest lie in ethereal repose within my magical Bottle.
I Originally Published This Short Story On Medium 2021