Her hands are in my mouth, poking, scraping, setting up X-ray cards. I bide my time for a chance to complain.
I stare at a spot on the ceiling, bright blue sky, white clouds, pink spring blossoms in the corner of the light box. I once would have clung to this, a haven in my anxiety, but now I don’t care. Throw whatever you want at me. Pain. Blood. Small talk. Scheduling. I’ll endure. I tell myself, “You think this is bad? This ain’t bad.”
A lull in the small talk. It’s on the tip of my tongue. I was disappointed the last time I was here. At my now-an-adult son’s appointment, they ganged up on me. Bad hygiene. He’s got to floss. I don’t know that? It’s been a twice-weekly argument since he slept in a bed full of Beanie Babies. Wisdom teeth. Crowding. Risk of nerve damage. And the first I heard of “gummy smile.” I signed a paper to arrange the painful and expensive procedure, got home and Googled it, and it was just cosmetic, a way to make some sweet, sweet profit. I’d been scared, trusting them.
I have a deteriorating filling, but I get a reprieve. My gums are pronounced beautiful. She loves looking at my teeth. I rinse and keep my complaints to myself.