The Dentist's Needle

Reads: 445  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

A phobia can have a deep-rooted basis

The Dentist's Needle

 

By Steve Laker

 

 

 

It was ironic that Kate should be in the bathroom when she realised that she had a decision to make. Ironic because it had been in that same bathroom that she had made so many crossroads-of-life type decisions before. The pain had got worse, but her fear prevented her from doing exactly that which she knew she had to. Her reflection gazed back across the sink from the mirror on the wall. She had bags big enough to sleep in under her bloodshot eyes, and as she stared back at herself she spotted a single grey hair among her otherwise jet black locks. She looked older than her twenty-one years. This thing was ageing her now.

 

But she couldn't face it tonight. Taking the bottle of Paracetamol from her bag, she tipped six tablets into her shaking and sweaty palm. Four had been enough that afternoon and the same amount four times daily for the last month or so had kept the pain at bay. Now it was worse than ever though, and she watched herself wince in the mirror every time she stood up from the sink to swallow the pills as the cold water washed through her mouth. With the last one down, she opened her mouth and peered down the hole so evidently the offender in her molar.

 

She knew it was a stupid thing to do, but she put her finger in her mouth anyway, and pressed down on the offending tooth. It was as though a sharp metal spike had shot out from the end of her finger as she did so and it burrowed its way deep into her gum. The pain was excruciating, but she did it again anyway. It was a compulsion, like all of the times she'd sought out the hole with the tip of her tongue. It was a personal endurance test, almost self justification of the fact that if she could tolerate her own self-torture, then the tooth should be allowed to stay. Swallowing another two pills for luck, she placed the bottle back in her bag. There was no way she'd let such a little thing ruin her big Friday night out.

 

Back outside, the club had filled up while Kate had been in the bathroom. Surely, she thought, she couldn't have been gone that long? Emma was just being served at the bar as Kate returned though. Maybe the pills were affecting her perception of time? "Are you okay?" Emma asked, looking concerned. "Still playing you up?" She'd noticed Kate holding her cheek. "You should get that sorted girl."

 

"I know." Kate said, rubbing her face. "Still, you never know, me and you might fall out tonight. If we end up fighting, do me a favour? Knock this out will you?" She opened her mouth before picking up one of the four glasses that had just been delivered by the barman.

 

"Cheers." Emma picked up a drink and raised it to Kate. "I got us two each. Saves coming back to the bar." The two of them laughed. "Happy birthday."

 

The ice cubes felt to Kate like they were covered in cold, hard metal spikes, which deliberately made their way down her hole. She popped another couple of pills though and knew that they and the drink would see her through the night.

 

Kate had a reasonable night by recent standards, waking just the once at four in the morning. Another four pills down her throat, and although unable to sleep, she didn't need to wake Emma and made it through the remainder of the night. As she laid awake, staring at the ceiling and willing the sun to bring the light of day into the room, Kate vowed to call her mother later and ask her to take her to the dentist.

 

Hours seemed to pass, and Kate's mind was occupied by many distracting thoughts. The last time she'd been to the dentist had been when she was fifteen. She'd always been scared of Mr. Hall, but she didn't know exactly why. He was a friendly man, always gentle in all that he did, and he always told her beforehand what he was going to do. He always gave her a lollipop before she went home, telling her that she was a "brave girl." The last time she was there he'd commented to Kate's mum on what a good-looking young woman Kate was turning out to be. Her mum told her how brave she was being too, going into the dentist's room alone, which is how Kate liked it as she didn't want her mum to fuss over her. That was all that she could remember though, as so great was her fear that she always had to have a sedative jab in her arm, effectively knocking her out. Once that stuff was in, she didn't care what Mr. Hall did, she just knew that under its influence she'd wake up in the end and not have to be back there for a while.

 

Something changed after that last visit though, and that was where she knew her Odontophobia had arisen. When she came round from the sedative, she'd felt stranger than usual. She always felt groggy, but that was somehow different. Try as she might, she couldn't quite put her finger on it or remember what it was. Now though she had a real clinical phobia. She'd looked up Odontophobia on the Internet. It is a fear of dental procedures, as opposed to Dentophobia, which is a fear of dentists themselves. She suffered another anxiety, which was apparently common in sufferers of the former, and that was a fear of needles, or more specifically, syringes. According to her research, this fear was more common in women because of the phallic association of a syringe with it's penetrative ability and the whole violation of one's flesh thing.

 

This was all well and good, but still provided no singular identifiable reason for Kate's fears. Her phobia was now at the stage where it was affecting the quality of her life, and she knew she had to confront it somehow. Going with her mum seemed a logical first step.

 

Once, in desperation, Kate had even sought the help of a hypnotist. He'd regressed her to her childhood dental sessions, but they were unable to identify the root of her fear. He'd tried making her aware of her surroundings whilst in those regressive sessions, but again the search was fruitless. Rather than answers, Kate had left his consulting room with nothing more than leaflets on self-help techniques and anxiety management.

 

Kate's mum met her outside the surgery. This being the school holidays, she'd figured it a good opportunity for Hannah to have a check up. Hannah was Kate's younger sister, whom she'd not seen for about six months. The last time, Hannah had been in school uniform, and Kate was surprised how much older she looked now, quite tarty, her outfit belying her twelve years. That day, Hannah's birthday, was the last time that Kate had seen her mum too. Time had not been good to her mum, probably partly due to bringing the wayward Hannah up alone, and Kate before her.

 

Inside the dentist's, nothing much had changed in six years. Bumbling, fumbling, mumbling old Betty was still at the reception desk in the waiting room, the big wood-rimmed clock above her head still threatening to jump down on her at any moment. Mr Hall's name was still the only one on the wall under the list of practitioners. The waiting room was bereft of any other patients, and as she craned her neck over the desk to look at the appointments book, Kate saw that would be the case for the rest of the day. It was no wonder they'd been able to book emergency appointments, but a wonder that the place was still here at all. What passed for décor hadn't changed either. A combination of off-white skirting boards, doors and ceiling, and a kind of blue on the walls that Kate remembered as Duck egg blue that she used to paint the undercarriages of model planes with as a child. Sitting on the kind of plastic chairs she remembered from school, Kate rummaged through the reading material on the glass-topped coffee table. None of the magazines were younger than two years, and the puzzle books had all been completed or defaced. Thank God they wouldn't have to wait long then.

 

Betty shuffled through the off-white door and along the Duck egg blue corridor to the surgery, returning two minutes later with Mr Hall in tow. He greeted them with a friendly smile as he examined the appointments book, for reasons only he must have known. He hadn't aged at all. Perhaps he was carrying a little more weight around his waist, but that could just as easily been the hang of his off-white coat. He was a quietly spoken man, well mannered, and apparently still in his mid forties as he had been six years ago. He had a gentle, friendly and not unattractive face with a certain lived-in look about it. "Who's first then?" he said as he stood up and looked at the three of them. "The usual Kate?" She tried to smile or nod, but nothing was forthcoming as she stood up to follow him through the off-white door.

 

Kate's heart was beating fast as she walked behind Mr Hall, trying to relax herself by imitating his slow, purposeful, but slightly mincing walk down the Duck egg corridor. Entering the off-white surgery at the end, she minced over to the black leather chair in the middle of the room and tried to relax beneath the imposing glow of the overhead lamp. As she stared up at its imposing glow, she tried to remember her self-help leaflets.

 

It could have been the alcohol from the previous night, the joint she'd smoked before leaving the flat, or possibly the cumulative effect of all those Paracetamol tablets. Whatever it was, she was grateful of it, because as she stared back at the light she felt strangely relaxed and somehow detached from herself. She closed her eyes and seemed to drift away from the impending horror of the outside, even though she was not yet sedated. She was aware of Mr Hall making preparations in the room around her and her hearing seemed enhanced. She heard the tear of a foil-lined package as Mr Hall opened a fresh pair of disposable gloves, and then the stretching of rubber as he put them on. She could hear his breathing, heavy and loud now, seemingly all around her, but close too. She felt the needle start to go in, but wasn't the slightest bit concerned. She was so far detached now, that he could have been doing this to anyone. She was high now, perhaps with the knowledge that she was coming to terms with her fear now, and a realisation that when it was all done, the pain would be gone.

 

A gentle push and the needle was fully in. As its effects took a hold Kate couldn't move, as though some great unseen weight were bearing down upon her. For a moment she was tempted to struggle, but realised it would be futile and so left Mr Hall to do his work.

 

Coming round, Kate felt groggy as usual, and her surroundings took on their normal surreal qualities, with the dividing line between reality and hallucination being very blurred. She also felt liberation though, as the pain was gone. She was in the waiting room again, and her mum was at the desk, taking money from Betty. Change, presumably. Hannah looked a little nervous sitting beside her, but smiled as Mr Hall looked up from next to Betty. "You next young lady", he smiled.

 

Mr Hall held the off-white door open for Hannah, and as she walked ahead of him down the Duck egg corridor, he turned to Kate's mum. "That's another fine looking young woman you're going to have there", and smiled.

 

 

 

 

 

 (C) Steve Laker 1999

 


Submitted: December 21, 2014

© Copyright 2021 Stevelaker. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:


Facebook Comments

Other Content by Stevelaker

Book / Literary Fiction

Short Story / Science Fiction

Short Story / Horror