Teeth. Day 3:
The hustle and bustle, the dreary gray attitude of the sagging hospital, all of it brought back memories to Carson. Memories of when he first met Jean. It wasn't at a hospital. It was at the orthodontist. He grew to love the orthodontist office, with it's decrepit fish tank and television stuck on a slideshow of testimonials. They had the latest issue of every magazine, which the orthodontist (Markus Plain), joked that he stole.
No one took him seriously. People did steal the magazines from his office. The first time Carson went, his mom had to fill out a lot of paperwork. He got to sit in a chair surrounded by the magazines and no one else. Slow day. The receptionist, a young twenty something with bright red lips and low work ethics, rattled on the phone to a friend. Carson counted the magazines on the table. One of the lights flickered. Biting his nails translated that he was a nervous wreck. So many kids are when they go to the dentist.
Jean and her mom walked in. He didn't know her name yet. She didn't know his, either. He referred to her in his head as The Girl. The Girl sat down next to him, surprisingly. The whole waiting room was empty. They were both eleven at the time. Every eleven year old knows the basic etiquette that you do not sit next to someone, especially someone of the opposite gender, if there are other seats available. Common sense. Carson's hands were gripping the plastic upholstery of his chair, his coping method of choice. The Girl said, "Hello." And her wide smile revealed the metal tracks Carson dreaded.
"I'm getting my braces off." She continued. Her black hair was in a top knot.
"Lucky," he managed to say,"I am getting braces."
She nodded and proceeded to endow him with wisdom that only a wiser person who had been through the experience of applied dentistry could give.
"It doesn't hurt that much. You can eat more ice cream."
"I thought that was tonsils."
"Well. It's braces too."
He didn't know it at the time, but he was falling in love. Helplessly.
The time wasting secretary screeched. His mother betrayed him by patting his shoulder only momentarily, then retreating to the waiting room. The process was a little painful, getting the rings shoved on his back molars. The actual braces did not hurt. He even got to pick the colors. Blue and neon green.
Markus the orthodontist asked him questions about life through the whole process. Serious, existentialism type questions, like where do we go when we die? If we die with braces do they stay on our teeth forever? When it was over, and he went back to the waiting room, Carson's mom had to use the bathroom. The Girl and her mom were scheduling their next appointment.
"Hey." He said, spit abounding everywhere.
A slight lisp accompanied his utterance. "Hey, you got green and blue. Those are the colors I had."
Her smile was so straight and white. If he could achieve that, braces might be worth it after all.
"I hadn't noticed." He said. He had. He blatantly copied her, but it wasn't like she owned those colors. "I'm Jean." She said.
She was running her tongue over her teeth a lot, the strange feeling of not feeling the textured metal captivating her. Carson subconsciously did the same, but it hurt his tongue. His mom was out of the bathroom and standing next to him now. They had to schedule their next appointment.
"Are you going to Franklin Pierce?" Jean asked.
That was the local middle school.
He spit. Jean's mom nodded to her, and she waved goodbye as she stepped out of the room. The next appointment was in two weeks. On the car ride home he was in more pain, but he didn't notice, and if he had, he wouldn't have cared. The happiness of a new friend was washing over him. It was very pure.