Friday, October 4, 2013

Nightmare Fuel, Day the Third. Checkup Day

This is a fun experiment this year; I'm definitely feeling a theme in my responses, perhaps helped by the images being so similar. I'll leave it to you to see what ongoing threads you find in this, and to myself to contemplate Frankensteining them together in some kind of stitch-up.

Thanks as always to Andrea Trask for hosting this project.

Checkup Day
by L Czhorat Suskin

They called him Mr. White. That's all you remember. If you are remembering it for real. It was, after all, so long ago.

There'd been whispers - you think there'd been whispers. Mutterings. Rumors. You were never a very outgoing child, never cool, never popular. Never the one who anybody told the secrets to. No, you were the one who overheard something while you lingered near the swings, waiting for someone to get bored and free one up for you. You'd piece it together, a little puzzle.

Mr White came to the school each year.

Mr. White  looked into your ears, far enough to see your brain.

Mr. White looked up your nose and counted your boogers.

Mr. White examined your scalp with an impossibly sharp needle, probing the secret place where each hair begun.

Mr. White would find scurvy, scoliosis, lice, leprosy, acne, anthrax.

Mr. White was looking for something. If he found it, he'd take you away.

So you waited. You lined up, single file with the other kids. You remember the line, you remember his sportjacket, like the one your father took off every day when he got home. You thought you'd never recognize him if you saw him again, but he looked like the dad from a TV show. That kinda face, a smell like the bathroom right after your mother finished cleaning it Crisp white shirtcuffs peaking from the sleeves of his jacket. Mr. White.
National Archieef, The Commons (Flickr)
You remember that Jackie was first, you were second. The rest, of course, behind. It felt like a punch in your guy when he pulled her mouth open, probed deep inside with gleaming metal picks, his eyes focused beyond her front teeth his eyebrows flickup a look on his face you never saw on  TV dad but just for a moment then he was just Mr White and


You've tried to remember your turn, but you can't. You know he pulled your mouth open, a metal hook on the corner of your lip. You know that something sharp scraped the inside of your mouth, so far back you almost gagged, back to your back teeth and a little behind and you know

you know all of that. But you don't remember it.

What you do remember, the only thing you remember, is that you never saw Jackie again.

Until now. At first you weren't sure. People change through the years, after all. Once getting onto the subway as you were getting off, once across the street, fading into the crowd. IN a taxi. A face in a crowd scene on te TV news. Again and again. The more you see her, the more your teeth hurt. A dull ache growing in the wisdom teeth you're so proud to still have, crescendoing to a burning stab, then fading into a background ache that won't quite go away. Until you can't eat, can barely open your mouth need to clench against the pain but the clench hurts and you can't see past the pain and finally you call
your dentist isn't there but a colleague is covering... yes, now. Today you arrive.

You barely see the hygenist through tears of pain and oh it hurts at least he's still there, you barely feel his fingers brush your neck as he  clips the papersmock around your neck the chair embraces you and it smells of the dentist office, it smells like disinfectant like the bathroom after your mother cleaned it it smells like it smells

the voice comes from so far away, almost lost in the pain you catch a few words " under. .... this ..... hurt...." under this hurt you smell plastic as the mask covers your nose and mouth look up to see the Dentist's face

he's not changed.

It's Mr. White.

The pain fades away, for a time.

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