4th November

Dental Practice

Janice imagined her mouth must resemble the cutlery basket of a dishwasher. From her limited perspective what appeared to be fairly major scaffolding projected from the left side, while what could well have been a radio mast rose from the right. Her mouth had been open so wide and for so long that she thought her jaw must have seized up. The pump sucking out excess fluid was still gurgling away, but she could also hear the dentists – five of them, she reckoned, although there had been numerous comings and goings – conferring in low, competitive tones.

She was in for bridge work, but each time a different head loomed over her and some new bit of ironmongery was inserted, she thought that the job might have expanded to include a motorway, shopping mall and adventure playground. The dentists seemed nervous, tentative, yet determined in their concentration. They also seemed to have forgotten she was there.

‘Lower-right six,’ said Mr Granger, who had started the work but then called in his colleagues for backup. ‘I’ll go for a clamp there.’

‘Not a chance,’ said a woman Janice had never seen before. ‘You’ll never get a grip on that.’

‘Just watch me,’ said Mr Granger, and Janice felt something new being applied to a part of her mouth she would have sworn was already full.

‘Impressive,’ said a bald man with a light on his forehead. ‘Upper-right three,’ he continued. ‘Excavator.’

‘No way!’ came a chorus of disbelief. Again a face loomed, and again she felt something metallic probe a place which she had assumed was taken up by a pylon.

Now it was the woman’s turn. ‘Cavity at lower-left four,’ she said. ‘I’ll try a skin hook there.’

‘Ooh, high risk,’ said Mr Granger.

‘Go for it,’ the bald man said.

Janice wanted to protest, but her mouth was too full and her throat too
dry to permit speech, and she had a horrible feeling that if she moved she would swallow something sharp. She gave a feeble, pleading kind of grunt.

‘Yeah, yeah,’ said Mr Granger. ‘Okay, another round, folks?’

‘Why not?’ the woman said. ‘One probe per player?’

‘You’re on,’ said the bald man.

Reader: Gerda Stevenson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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