With the Creative Writing club at work, our week’s assignment was to produce written work of around 500 words relating to any 5-letter-word starting with “M”. I laughed off someone’s suggestion of “Monty” whilst debating the merits of writing a short essay on how great I am. Then I went to the Dentist, and came up with this.
“It’s going to be alright, love; Mr Watcher has done this a million times-”
“It’s ‘Doctor’ Watcher. And your mother’s right – I have done this a million times.”
As Nigel slowly blinked into unconsciousness, he was not calmed by these words. The very idea of going to the dentist’s had made him anxious enough this past week, but actually arriving was a whole different matter.
The front door had neither a sign, plaque, nor number. At first they assumed it was next-door, but the woman who lived there was most adamant that her house was not -and had never been- a dentist surgery. Opening the solid door of the correct address presented a reception room; the first sign that the building concealed a business of any sort.
The foyer was more or less like his grandmother’s front room, except the furniture had been replaced by two single-mold plastic chairs. The receptionist at the desk was a broad-shouldered man in an immaculately ironed suit, who sat at his console (a laptop on one of those over-the-hospital-bed tray tables). Nigel examined the uncharacteristically non-receptionist appearance of the man and his inadequate computer facilities. He was hardly an expert on proper administrative device set-ups, but wouldn’t there at least be a printer nearby?
Looking away from the receptionist alerted Nigel to another curious fact; rather than the consolation of dental hygiene awareness posters and branded product advertisements that usually fill such an establishment, there was only a single printed A4 piece of paper stuck to the wall that simply demanded, “BRUSH”. I wonder how he printed that off, considered Nigel.
The broad-shouldered receptionist alerted them that ‘they’ were ready in room 5. Nigel and his mother made their way to room 5 through a corridor that was decorated by large rectangles in the mint-green wallpaper of better saturated green – the pattern was almost uniform, and each rectangle had a noticeable pinhole an inch above its centre.
Room 5’s door was open; in it stood Doctor Watcher who gestured them both in and asked Nigel to lie on the ‘operating bench’. The adults cycled through the specificities of the impending tooth filling, but Nigel’s attention was otherwise engaged. The room was bare, save for the reclined seating mechanism that he lay on, and the combi-lamp-sink-cupboard that was affixed to its side with- masking tape? There wasn’t even a seat for his mother to sit on.
The curtains were drawn and the only lights came from the buzzing energy-saving bulb in the ceiling and the harsh dentist’s lamp; it was whilst being blinded by this that he was simultaneously reassured by the adults and gassed through a facemask.
An uncertain amount of time later, he awoke. The door to room 5 was ajar, and there were the rumbly mutterings of a conversation going on outside. Nigel had precious little time to confirm his suspicions.
He grabbed a plier utensil from beside the sink, clamped it over his recently-operated rear tooth, and yanked. The tooth came calmly, and lay in Nigel’s palm, pulsing a tiny red light through a minute metal cavity in its rear.