Wisdom: In the Teeth of the Beholder

I dreaded every minute that his cold hands might touch my face. Every time I came, his metal tools scratched and scraped at what I swore to be enamel, but what he swore to be plaque.  “Fine,” I thought, it’s time to head to the dentist.  After all, it had been months since I’d gone, and I had been feeling a strange pain in the back of my mouth, signifying that perhaps it was time to get my wisdom teeth out.  My dentist, with his wretched tools and sterile gloves, dutifully agreed.

Arriving at the office, I remember feeling hesitations about the oncoming anaesthesia.  The last time I had gone under, I woke up telling the doctors that I was Batman.  Without control over my own consciousness, I didn’t know what I might say, or what might happen to me.

Laying on the stone-cold chaise, I reluctantly allowed my whole body to slip into a deep state of relaxation.  In fact, I remember nervously chuckling at the thought of eating ice cream for days after my teeth were removed.  The dentist lowered the mask over my face, and I slowly closed my eyes.  I saw flowers and fields of poppies in a bright sunny glow before I lost reconnaissance of my surroundings.  The glow went away, and I was out like a light.

Suddenly, I heard a loud screeching sound. My head was dizzy and my eyes felt stuck together by some sort of syrupy paste.  Remembering where I had been before I went under, I panicked.  “Is the screeching sound my tooth?!,” I wondered.  Trying to stand and prevent further madness, I reached desperately for the dentist in front of me.  There was nobody.  I yanked my arms up and felt a heavy weight holding my left arm down.  “Calm down,” I thought.  “This is just the anaesthesia weighing me down.”

I touched my mouth; the mask was gone.  I focused on getting my eyes open.  Managing to get my right one slightly ajar, I saw a grey haze.  The dentist’s office was moving side to side and I felt as if I were about to puke.  With my right hand, I stretched my right eye open.  I could see clearly.  There were no tools or TVs droning children’s cartoons.  There were no creepy stuffed animals with full sets of human teeth nor were there fancy electric toothbrushes.  There were no people here.  No nurses and no anaesthesia.  There were only my thoughts, my body, and this damned screeching noise.

Standing up in a panic, I felt myself dragged back down.  There was some strange chain attached to my left arm.  My neck jolted to look at the contraption.  Bound by large rusty chain-links, I was stuck.  At the bottom of the chain was a fancy brown briefcase.  I tried to open it with my clumsy left-hand.  But it was locked.  Searching my body for any tool I could use to pick the lock, I found something sticking out from my pocket.

I reached for what appeared to be a note.  Opening it up with my teeth and my right hand, It lay on my lap in scribbled letters.  “Wisdom is worth all of the pain.” “Godammit,” I thought.  “Where am I?!?” There was no way that I was by myself on this massive train. I grabbed the briefcase with my right hand and scurried around the cabin.  Out the windows, we were passing fields of poppies.  People in the fields waved frantically at the train car.  Villagers from acres left and right ran near the tracks and looked up desperately at my face.

I met them at the windows.  Slamming my hands on the window, I wanted answers.  “Please, tell me,” I yelled.  “Please.”

As if hearing my demands, they all stopped waving.  In cryptic unison, they raised their arms and pointed to the front of the train.  Whatever was up there, I had to see it.  Walking breezily through the train cars, I reached them.  They turned their heads at me and stood up to take a bow.  All of them.  Men, women, children all stood up to look at me.  “You’re here,” they said, “you’re finally here.”

“Why am I here? Who brought me here?” I stammered.

“Your dentist did,” they said.  “Your wisdom teeth were so wise that he knew we needed you.”

“What do you mean my wisdom teeth were wise?” I asked.  “This is all crazy!”

“Your wisdom teeth hold more wisdom than you know.”  They can be used to solve many of our problems. Don’t you see?” they asked.  “You can change all of our lives.”

“So what’s in this briefcase?” I begged.

“It’s your teeth of course,” they replied.

One of the people retrieved a tool, and the other grabbed my handcuffed arm.  They broke the briefcase open and released me.  In it were four bloody teeth.  A little girl grabbed them eagerly, but her mom yanked them from her grasp.  Heading to the front of the train, the mom placed each tooth in a golden panel.  One tooth in, and the floor started shaking.  Two teeth in, and we were all on the floor.  Three teeth in, the train started opening up.  Four teeth in, and a golden glow of poppies and fields of flowers clouded my view.  People were cheering and running into the fields toward their homes.  Rivers were flowing, people were jumping.  The shacks on the side of the road became sturdy homes that could survive any storm. Couples reunited, and children played again. Their problems were gone. And, soon, mine would be too.

I opened my eyes and found myself in the cold chaise I remembered.  Feeling ecstatic, I kissed the chair and started holding all of the shiny silver tools to make sure they were real.  I looked up.  The cartoons were on the TV! The scary animals with the full sets of human teeth were perched on the countertop.  Fluoride, floss, brushes, mouthwash, all of it! It was all there! The dentist came back in with his clipboard and a pen.  “You did wonderfully, mam.”

“Can I see my wisdom teeth?” I asked.

“Oh,” he stuttered.  “Well, let’s just say they’re off to better things.”

I stood up and walked out of the door.  On my way out, I noticed a fancy brown briefcase on the floor.  “Thanks,” I said. “It was quite the ride.”

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