sandra & jean

Sandra has an appointment at the dentist later that day.
‘My plate came out in the salad,’ she says, holding out her arm, bunching up the sleeve.
‘You wouldn’t think salad would do it.’
‘Yeah, but the rolls were stale. Anyway, it’s all very annoying. I hate going to the dentist.’
‘Me too. It’s a throwback to when I was a kid. I think they were all a bit drill-happy in the seventies. They used to pull you in for a filling if they heard you whistle in the street.’
‘And that mask! In my head it’s like this disgusting rubber shell coming down from the sky and covering my face.’
‘At least they’re better now. It’s a lot less painful than it used to be.’
She nods, and watches me draw her blood.
‘It’s a shame you’ve got to go all that way,’ I tell her. ‘But then – you couldn’t really have a travelling dentist, could you? A covered wagon rolling down the street. I read somewhere they used to have fairground dentists who conned people into thinking they’d cured their toothache by pulling out a worm.’
‘I think so.’
‘Well I wouldn’t like that.’
I put a square of gauze on the puncture site, release the tourniquet, withdraw the needle.
‘All done!’ I tell her, dropping it in the yellow sharps box. ‘Just keep your finger on there a minute.’
‘Bloody dentists,’ she says.
‘Have you got anyone to go with you?’
‘Nope. Jean’ll go most places, but not the dentist. She came with me on the London Eye the other week.’
‘Oh? How was that?’
‘It was okay. For a while. I mean – I’m terrified of heights, but it was all so slow and easy, it didn’t really feel like anything. And the view was pretty spectacular. But then Jean taps me on the shoulder and she says Sandra! Look down there! Look how high up we are! And as soon as I did I completely froze, and spent the rest of the trip clinging on to the rail with my eyes shut. When we made it back down again they had to prise me off with a broom handle.’toothwagon

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