Fear of the Dentist

Wednesday, 20th February, 2013

An invisible cap tightened its grip around her head as the first rays climbed the curtains and painted the walls. She was blind with sleep. The whole night twisting and turning, she huffed and puffed then cursed the day ahead.  Handfuls of water failed to restore her distorted image in the mirror and squinting against the naked light she plastered those wrinkles she could no longer ignore.

Downstairs, the cats eyed her with concern. She was unable to speak; they knew it and kept their distance. Fighting with her belt, she stamped in frustration sending them scurrying for the safety of the sofa´s shadows. And there they stayed, secretly conceding that today they weren´t coming out until she was gone. The woman stormed down the coffee, burning her throat but when the caffeine kicked in, she felt a little better. However, she couldn´t relax as the dread came again in waves.

Five minutes of frantic bag searching later, she was in the hallway. Outside the air rippled with cold. The spring sunshine distracted her from where she was going and she sparked up a cigarette.  Climbing the hill to town, she puffed deeply. Her heels echoed ahead drawing admiring looks from workmen busying in the opposite direction. Despite the attention, her ego dwindled as the destination loomed. Maybe they´d discover her vice, she agonised and flung the lit butt to the ground, breathing in and out furiously to get rid of the tobacco smell.

When the woman arrived, she was gasping and doubled over. She caught her hunched silhouette in the reflection of the door and set about straightening her clothing.  She thought, “I don´t have to go in, I can leave now and cancel by phone”. But her finger resisted, pressed the buzzer and when the video intercom crackled into life it was clear there was no going back.

Like the condemned to a gallows, she climbed the stairs. The receptionists had seen it all before and greeted her with a smile and much encouragement. While their smiles seemed genuine the disinfectant smell tweaked her bladder, she fled for the toilet. Safely inside, she bolted the door and rallied the troops. “This is stupid, it´s not as if you haven´t done it before, come on now!” Pulling herself together, she put on a brave face in the mirror and washed her hands,  “Stop fretting, everything´s going to be fine!”

Outside her name rang up and down the corridor. She took a deep breath and walked directly to the room at the end, her head swimming with possibilities. It was too late for further hesitation; she went in and sat down. There was a knock at the door, a man entered and she recognised the same brave face. He was her first patient of the day.

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