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For Round 6 of our contest, we asked you to send us original works of fiction where one of the characters tells a joke and one of the characters cries.
Hans-Walter Untch/
Dentures in a glass.
Hans-Walter Untch/

It wasn't such a bad thing sharing one's bedroom with a complete stranger. A total nincompoop. It was tolerable. It was required and expected and not even open for discussion. A 10-year-old girl and her great aunt should get along just fine. Perfectly fine. Peachy.

But Lily was a private type of person, and 10-year-olds need their fair share of personal space. She had secret notebooks to write in and thoughts to think that could only be thought about by herself. This old lady could only get in the way.

On Sunday, Great Aunt Faye arrived. Lily's father carried her flowered suitcase to Lily's room and laid it on one of the two beds in the room.

Aunt Faye entered the room, just as Lily jumped off the bed. It startled Aunt Faye, who let out a yelp, and the darndest thing happened. Her teeth fell right out of her mouth, in one big piece. Faye bent over and picked up the teeth, and set them on the windowsill.

"I hope you study hard and do your schoolwork," said the old woman. "I also hope you brush your teeth. Be true to your teeth."

Every day Lily would climb trees and write in her secret notebook and spy on people. Summer was the best. And every night Aunt Faye would put her teeth on the windowsill and say to Lily, "Be true to your teeth."

Every night when Faye and Lily lay side by side in their beds, Faye would tell stories. Stories about a place where its always hot and people go barefoot. She talked about temples, monsoons and monkey gods. She told tales about snakes and night-blooming jasmine and and bejeweled elephants.

One morning, Lily woke up early and was glad to sneak out of the room before her old aunt woke. She wasn't in the mood for all the hacking, coughing, stretching, lotions, creams and medicines that old ladies were all about in the morning. Not to mention the strange undergarments.

Lily escaped to the cool morning dew and walked barefoot to her swing where she sailed over the treetops until the sun warmed the air and brought out the flies and bees.

Her mother called her in for breakfast. When Lily got to the kitchen door, she knew something was wrong because her mother was wiping her tears on a dishtowel.

"Your Aunt Faye passed away in her sleep," said Lily's father.

Lily didn't feel like crying. She was angry that the old lady had the nerve to go and die. What kind of nincompoop would just up and die in her niece's bedroom, with her niece right there next to her?

The whole day was dreamlike. She played outside, while her parents packed up Aunt Faye's things into the flowered suitcase. Some people came and took away a small mound, which Lily knew was her Aunt's dead body. They ate their meals in silence.

At bedtime, Lily went to her room to get her pajamas from her room. When she opened the door, the room seemed empty and hollow. A storm was blowing in from the north, and the curtains fluttered into the room with a cool breeze. Lily walked over to pull the window shut, and she jumped back in terror at the sight of the teeth. They just sat on the windowsill and smiled.

There was a little slip of paper under them. It read, Be true to your teeth, or they will be false to you.