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84% Compatible

Jarod K. Anderson is a fan of comic books, tattoos, pulp detective novels, herpetology, folklore, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, video games, and all things sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. Growing up, he wanted to be either a ninja or a maple tree. These aspirations led him to teach college English. Teaching college English led him to try other things.

Jarod's work has appeared in numerous online and print publications including Daily Science Fiction, Escape Pod, Electric Spec, The Colored Lens, and elsewhere. Look for his forthcoming work in Apex Magazine and Fantasy Scroll. His bestselling books of speculative fiction writing prompts (co-written with his awesome wife Leslie J. Anderson) include: Inklings: 300 Starts, Plots, and Challenges to Inspire Your Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy and 100 Prompts for Science Fiction Writers. He lives in Central Ohio. Find him online at: jarodkanderson.com.
The gap between Ted's front teeth opened onto a solar system buzzing with civilizations of light and power. Every once in a while it would glint and draw the eye of Becky Cooley, the shy paralegal with the 84% compatibility rating from the dating website.
Ted found that trying to laugh behind his hand was awkward. Trying to tilt his head down while he spoke was awkward. He'd lost dates to awkwardness and to the bushy mustache he had used to curtain his upper teeth for a few weeks in June.
So, Ted tried to talk with Becky head-on and her inevitable questions followed, questions about the twinkle between his teeth, the sense of life and hope and industry in it. Ted felt his cheeks and ears get hot, but he did his best not to sound embarrassed.
He answered Becky's questions. He even did his best to answer the questions she would think of later.
"It's a solar system. It's been there ever since my adult teeth came in. I don't know if it's just a doorway or if the whole system is actually there in my mouth."
"I don't know if it will live on after I die. I'm not sure if the people there know about me or have ever tried to communicate. Yes, the government knows all about it."
Becky went still and Ted worried that it might have been rude of him to anticipate her future questions. The specter of awkwardness grew like an afternoon shadow.
Becky didn't quite smile as she pushed her long brown hair behind her left ear and tilted her head.
There, above her little gold earring, nestled in the folds of her ear, Ted could just see a bluish glow. And in that glow was somehow the force of gravity held in balance amongst the waltz of stars and planets and the countless souls that spun along with them.
When Ted smiled, he smiled with the light of three hundred billion stars. Becky smiled back.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, February 25th, 2015


Jarod K. Anderson is a fan of comic books, tattoos, pulp detective novels, herpetology, folklore, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, video games, and all things sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. Growing up, he wanted to be either a ninja or a maple tree. These aspirations led him to teach college English. Teaching college English led him to try other things. Jarodís work has appeared in numerous online and print publications including Daily Science Fiction, Escape Pod, Electric Spec, The Colored Lens, and elsewhere. Look for his forthcoming work in Apex Magazine and Fantasy Scroll. His bestselling books of speculative fiction writing prompts (co-written with his awesome wife Leslie J. Anderson) include: Inklings: 300 Starts, Plots, and Challenges to Inspire Your Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy and 100 Prompts for Science Fiction Writers. He lives in Central Ohio. Find him online at: www.jarodkanderson.com Story Comments: I have no clue why I thought of a solar system wedged between two front teeth, but I thought of it more than once. That's sometimes how story inspiration works for me. I don't jot down every odd idea to pass through my head. If I did, I wouldn't have time for anything else. When an image starts cropping up more than once, starts to stick, then I guess I start paying attention. This image, the shinning solar system peeking out between teeth, seemed interesting to me, but I quickly came to the "so what" question. Okay. You have a solar system in your mouth. The novelty would wear off for you pretty quickly. It would be as normal as a freckle on your cheek. You'd probably just want to get on with your life. Unfortunately, people likely wouldn't make it that simple for you. So, what situation would really highlight that perennial struggle? A first date. And, maybe I'm a hopeless romantic, but I think there's someone for everyone.

- Jarod K. Anderson

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