The Strangled Tooth

Holding the floss like a serial killer whose weapon of choice is twine for strangling, the dentist bore down on the tooth. Seizing upon an unsuspecting molar as she wrapped the string around it, pulling and grating at the gum as though to force the tissues to bleed so as to prove that Brenda was not flossing adequately enough. To show her that she was still putting her periodontal health at risk with her lackadaisical dental care methods. And if she was lackadaisical about that, then, what else, pray tell, might she be careless in?

It was all Brenda could do to keep her hands from reaching out to snatch the floss from Rachelle’s fat fucking fingers and using it to strangle her neck in return, so she could then know the extent of what her tooth was experiencing. The indelicacy with which she was handling it. She was aware that by agreeing to come at this time, there had been a risk of getting Rachelle as her “attendant.” But there was nothing “tending” in nature about Rachelle’s gruff approach to dental hygienics. Brenda had known that from the first day she walked into the office when she was just a “virgin client,” roughly three years ago. Having been referred to Crown Dentistry by her coworker, Leo (whom she wanted to have a reason to talk to, and cursed herself for still, even now, harboring this longstanding crush), Brenda was wide-eyed and naive upon arriving. Having absolutely no idea that every client dreaded being assigned to Rachelle. And despite the complaints frequently lobbied against her, she was untouchable because she was the wife of the dentist himself. Dr. Wellbach was never going to get rid of her, and it seemed any suggestion to do so landed you with the miraculous assessment of having a cavity, or worse, needing a root canal. It was like Rachelle put a hex on you or something for daring to speak against her. 

Brenda was too late to find all of this out, openly griping about Rachelle that very first day Dr. Wellbach saw her–totally unaware that she was his wife. At the end of the exam, he told her she needed a crown. She wanted to respond with, “I know, right?” but refrained, hoping he was just kidding, and it was some kind of “inaugural” joke they made to all the new patients in reference to the practice’s name. Sadly, it was no joke at all, and Dr. Wellbach left her lying in the chair like a limp rag after being tossed to the ground. He was sure to tell her he could schedule the procedure with the receptionist though. Flower–yes, that was her name–was the only sympathetic character in the joint, and she was sure to inform Brenda that the reason she got slapped with a crown was likely a direct result of any aspersions she might have cast on Rachelle. Brenda thought Flower was sweet but stupid, foolishly not believing her until the next two visits, during which she also lamented Rachelle’s incompetence and lack of gentility. She was then told she had cavities, later followed at the next check-up by the suggestion that she now still needed an expensive deep clean. How could it be real? How could Rachelle possibly hold this power?

Dazed out on her fantasy of strangling her with the floss, Brenda didn’t realize that she had been biting down on Rachelle’s fingers until she suddenly noticed the metallic taste of blood in her mouth that was too overpowering to be merely “gum blood.” She then tapped back into the reality that Rachelle was screaming at the top of her lungs in agony as Dr. Wellbach, Flower and a number of other dental hygienists on the premises flooded in to see what the commotion was about. Brenda herself was rather shocked by the entire thing, and in that state of shock was frozen in the rote action of baring her teeth down on the tips of Rachelle’s thumb and index finger. Really, she knew she should stop–“unclench”–but she was simply stuck in this position. 

Eventually, Rachelle was freed only when her fingers had been entirely gnawed off. By then, the ambulance had already arrived (which Brenda thought was quite excessive, honestly–how much of a candy ass could Rachelle be? Especially with all that projection about being such a tough as nails ice queen?). Brenda’s lips and the skin all around them were covered in blood. She looked more cannibalistic than Ozzy Osbourne after eating a bat. Dr. Wellbach seemed the most jarred by her appearance, and looked at her as though she had genuinely betrayed him. “Ah for fuck’s sake, Dr. Wellbach, your wife’s a fuckin’ bitch and she was flossing me like a piece of pork being tied with string!” Brenda snapped at him. 

It didn’t take long for the police to arrive and get a statement from everyone in the office. Brenda provided her side of the story, explaining that she felt it was her only recourse to protect herself, and that, for years, she had complained about Rachelle’s incompetence and cruelty, only to be slapped with the fate of a cavity or deep cleaning fee in return every time that she did. The police appeared unsympathetic and unbelieving. No one believed in magic, after all. Not even the dark kind–despite the fact that it was all around us every day. 

She awoke the next morning to find that the strangled tooth Rachelle had been handling like a witch being strung up for the gallows when Brenda finally bit back was now gone. It had just “fallen out.” There it was, resting comfortably in her bedsheets like she was before waking up to this sight. She screamed in terror, realizing now that there was a pool of blood next to her head to correspond to its absence. It was then Brenda finally decided, once and for all, to switch dentists. She had put up with enough. And then she wondered if making the change might yield an even worse “oral punishment.” But so be it, she couldn’t live like this anymore, under Rachelle’s thumb (no pun intended). Rachelle, who, for whatever reason, decided not to press charges against Brenda. Oh, but Brenda knew she would find some way to press in another manner. She just wanted to ensure she was in a different dentist’s chair when it happened.

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