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They wouldn’t leave me alone. I loved my job. I was a wonderful dentist wasn’t I? Always, a patient would leave my office with a bright smile. That is, if they left at all. After years of my work, I finally snapped. Nightmares vexed me, and often I would wake up to find I had pulled out chunks of my own hair. Thus, I began to change. I was sagacious about this, of course. I could not let it show. They would suspect me. I kept to myself, talked to as little people as possible. They suspected something though. I could tell. In the back of my head they would ask, “What have you done to your hair?” or, “You look sick, what is wrong?”

I can’t pretend the signs weren’t obvious. I turned pale, and I would chew my fingernails down to stubs. But I still was a wonderful dentist, wasn’t I? It didn’t matter if they wouldn’t leave me alone. They said they were my friends, even if I’d never seen them before.

It was late October, or maybe November. I hadn’t kept track of the date for months. Dead leaves lay scattered on the lawn of my Practice. The cool night air was curious. I looked over my shoulder as I walked inside. They hadn’t bothered me for weeks. No haunting questions in the back of my head, no persuasive words, just silence. I wondered what would have caused my friends to dissipate.

I walked into my office. In the middle of the room was the chair in which I would operate on my patients teeth. My desk sat in the corner, with my many tools laid out on the table by the operating chair.

A knock on my office door made me jump. Could it be my friends returning? No, it was just my next patient. Mr. Burnley, a chubby man with an elfish face and a balding head.

“Dr. Keenan? Dr. Keenan, it’s time for my appointment. The root canal, remember?” Mr. Burnley giggled nervously.

I grabbed the bandana off my desk, and wrapped it over my head, covering the bald spots in my hair.

“Dr. Keenan?” he called again.

For a moment I sat there in silence. Until he called my name again.

Finally, I said quietly, “Come in.”

Slowly, the door opened and Mr. Burnley appeared in my office. I could tell he thought something was wrong. I made my plan of how I would dissemble him. I began to notice every detail of my office. The thumping of a rat’s heartbeat, Mr. Burnley’s unsteady, nervous, breathing, and the tinkering noises inside my head, all began to form a sick twisted polyphony. Where were my friends? Why would they leave me?

“H-hello, Doctor,” Mr. Burnley stuttered. Mr. Burnley had always feared the dentist.

I smiled, “Hello, sir,” I said confidently, “Please, sit down. We’ll begin your root canal.”

Mr. Burnley sat down. I reached for my tools. That’s when the idea popped in my head. I knew how to get my friends back. I missed their soft voices in the back of my head. I reached for my largest wax knife. The sweat dripping down Mr. Burnley’s face was perceptible from across the room.

“This isn’t going to hurt doctor, is it?” Mr. Burnley asked.

I put on my surgical mask, then the rubber gloves. Where were my friends? Why have the left me? I thought the were my friends? No, they weren’t. Friends wouldn’t leave me.

“Dr. Keenan? This isn’t going to hurt is it?” Mr. Burnley said again.

A leer spread across my face, “No, of course not. This won’t hurt a bit.” I raised my wax knife, “Now, smile!” Mr. Burnley’s screams could be heard throughout the building. He lay dead on my chair.

And the worst part was, my friends never came back.



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