It wasn't until I had my first child that I really realised just what my parents did for me as a kid.
In his first few years we had gotten Santa Claus down pat, the Easter Bunny, even birthdays had an air of mystery to them.
The day he lost his first baby tooth happened to be a day my parents came to visit.
As we say around over cups of coffee, my son running around excitedly with his tooth clutched in his hand, I shook my head and smiled.
"It's my first time playing tooth fairy," I said. I was much quieter than my husband, so was the better choice for the deed.
"Got any tips? How the hell do you get the tooth out from under the pillow?"
To my surprise, mum and dad exchanged a troubled look before answering. Dad cleared his throat.
"Thing is, we never actually collected any of your teeth." He said. I looked from one to the other. Neither of them would meet my eyes. "Whenever we looked for them they'd already disappeared.
There was a time we thought you might actually have been eating them yourself!"
I felt sick. My husband grabbed my hand, squeezing gently, but I shook him off. "Someone was stealing my *teeth*?"
Mum and dad gave each other another look... And then laughed, hard.
"Sorry!" Mum said, "Couldn't resist! In the end your sister told us her imaginary friend was stealing them."
"Very funny." I said, though not without a smile. Molly was *always* talking about Spook when we were kids.
She even used to tell me all about his crush on me, so I'm not surprised she'd pull something like that. As for where the teeth went, Molly had never told. I'd have to ask next time I saw her.
That night I crept into my son's room just after midnight, a pound coin clutched in my hand. I quickly hid it behind my back when my son switched the light on and sat up, smiling.
"Why are you still awake, love?"
"I was waiting for the tooth fairy. And he came!"
I tried to speak, but nothing came out. I licked my lips, and on the third attempt forced out, "Who came to see you?"
"The tooth fairy, mummy. There!"
I flinched away, expecting an intruder. Instead a shapeless shadow form rose up from the carpet beside me, gathering itself to my height and smiling.
I recognised one of it's front teeth as an incisor I had chipped falling from my bike as a kid. Looked like I'd found my missing teeth.