True Nightmare MAG

November 1, 2007
By Sophie W., San Diego, CA, San Diego, CA

The first thing I hear is the drill. Grinding away at some poor victim’s tooth, it leaves the air heavy with the acrid tang of burning enamel. The whirring of the machine sounds eager, as if starving for the taste of human discomfort, waiting for that fatal slip of the hand so it can plunge into the tender gum below.

Everyone around me is masked. Is it to hide their maniacal smiles? To conceal their identities from revenge-seeking patients? I can’t say. The clock in the corner slowly ticks away the time until the dentist will arrive and begin the torture known as oral hygiene.

The walls are a blinding white. Bouquets of fake yellow flowers droop in the corner, their sad, mustard heads doubled over with headaches from the brilliant fluorescent lighting. A poster of a friendly otter smiles from above the adjustable lamp. It’s obviously meant to comfort and reassure, but its grin looks leering and self-congratulating, flaunting its freedom from this sterile prison.

And it is indeed a prison. The sole window is no wider than a shoe box and too high to be reached by anyone but a professional basketball player. Consequently, a thick layer of grime coats the pane, distorting what little sunlight could filter through. A warden in green scrubs guards the only exit.

My sweating legs will have to be surgically peeled from the sticky, green vinyl recliner. I try not to think about the countless others who have been here before me compared to how few times this plastic hell has been sanitized. The cover is peeling away, a perfect metaphor for the slow and torturous destruction of my sanity.

Lingering beneath the smoky scent of dying tooth is the patented dentist smell: a noxious combination of bleach, Listerine, and bubble gum. The stench burrows deep into my nose and haunts my memory long after I’ve escaped.

For many days to follow, the glint of metal will cause traumatic flashbacks of the rows and rows of scraping tools in order from least to most painful. The cawing of crows will remind me of the grating laughter of the dentist enjoying her own corny joke. The sight of food will instantly make me consider not time needed on the treadmill but time needed brushing. Soda, coffee, and tea will be avoided at all costs and flossing will once again take a full five minutes. No price is too high to deny the ravenous drill its next victim.

All efforts are ultimately futile, for in one year’s time, the summons will arrive and the nightmare will begin all over again.

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This article has 1 comment.

whoo said...
on Aug. 13 2009 at 1:41 pm
feelings mutual


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