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“The first house I gave you was a tooth. The dentist pulled it to make space for the rest of my teeth, which apparently is often a problem for small-mouthed people when the wisdom teeth come in. He asked if I wanted the tooth, and I didn’t particularly, but I also didn’t want it to get thrown in the bin, so I wrapped it in a tissue and took it home. It was jagged at one end and it smelled sweet and a bit rotten. I got a nail from the toolbox and started to carve. I’ll admit it wasn’t worth putting in an art gallery, but by the end of the day my tooth was a tiny though recognisable house. I understand that when I presented it to you, half joking, as we were brushing our teeth before bed, it was unexpected. You seemed pleased at the gesture, if a little disgusted. It wasn’t your fault that the tooth got knocked into the toilet and accidentally flushed.
The second house I braided from my hair. There was a reasonable amount in my hairbrush, but not enough. I pulled out more from all over my head so that I wouldn’t leave any obvious bald patches. My hair is long and thick so I got two good handfuls without it looking much different, and its stiff curl meant it took to braiding well. The walls and roof were dense, and I even managed two windows. I shouldn’t have surprised you by putting the hair next to your morning cup of coffee. As I was falling asleep the night before it had seemed quirky and charming, but I see now that it was a weird thing to do and made you not want to eat your scrambled eggs. It wasn’t your fault that the coffee got spilled, making the house dampen and fold in on itself and collapse into a mat of tangles. When you left for work I threw the hair out of the kitchen window. I like to think of it, this little perfect house I made – for you from me – caught on a breeze, tugged quick to the sky, blown off a bridge to float down the river.”