FLESH: The Root Canal By Jane Malin

Word Count 486
The Root Canal
By Jane Malin
I entered the sterile NASA-like laboratory. There was blue and white and chrome torturous equipment everywhere. I recognized the sink. How thoughtful; it even had a mirror over it. Great, I can touchup my makeup later.
A young hygienist invited me to recline on the molded blue lounge. I eased myself into the victim’s chair. She commenced fitting me with the napkin bib, the safety goggles, and the leaded blanket for Xrays. The chair tipped me back on my head.
“Now just relax,” she whispered.
“I’m on it.”
In came my dentist, a lovely man, I’m sure. However, I’ve only seen his eyes peeping out from the paper mask and little cap he always wears.
“Good morning, Doctor.”
“Open,” he replied in hushed tones.
So much for pleasantries. It was like he was praying over the sacrifice.
Just as I see the shiny syringe approaching my mouth, my eyelids slam shut. I assume the ritualistic position, gripping the arm rests (very erroneous name) and leaving impressions for the forensic team.
He murmurs, “A little sting.”
As I process that he skipped the nitrous ox… “Holy Mother of GOD!” I scream in my head, as he pole-vaults into the soft flesh of my back hinge. He finishes with a cocktail of shots to my gums and jaw.
“We’ll just let that work a bit,” and he’s gone like smoke.
The room is spinning. My tongue feels like a dead body in my mouth. Even my nostrils are numb.
He slips back into his chair, and now we start the dance. Eyes tightly closed, I feel latex-gloved fingers from at least six hands all yanking and shoving. The drills are squealing. Nurse Ratched wields the revered sucker tube in all directions. Oops, I hear it whine as it inhales the bottom of my mouth like a vacuum sucking in the bedspread.
About 90 minutes later, my mouth having been jacked up like a car, Doc announces that it’s time to check the bite. He places a tiny piece of waxed paper somewhere in my mouth and says, “Bite down.”
The impossibility of that request overwhelms me.
“Ach..Luld,” I declared, which was indecipherable even to me! I felt his gloved hand help push my jaw upward.
“Feel okay?”
“Mmm…no…Lalled,” I replied.
“Good, don’t chew on that side, and I’ll see you next time.”
With that, he drifted from the room, leaving the nurse to stand me up. Allowing me a minute to sit with my head between my legs and my feet to regain life-giving blood, she gave me some water to rinse. I admit I had never truly appreciated the boundary-defining aspects of lips until I watched the water run down my numb face onto my bib. My contacts were welded to my eyeballs. I had neither ability nor desire to check my makeup.
The receptionist smiled sweetly. So when do we want to schedule the second one?

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