I went to the dentist today. Need I say more?
An Unusual Sort of Adventure
I slumped in my chair as I gazed sullenly at my mum across the waiting room. I'd forgotten how much I hated going to the dentist. She glanced up from her outdated magazine and smiled at me encouragingly.
"Cheer up, Edmund. It'll be over before you know it."
I fought the petulant urge to roll my eyes. Of course there would be the moment where it was over and I was desperately relieved, but the last time I checked, I was still waiting to enter what I remembered to be a dark and musty room.
Peter's words echoed in my mind. "You've dealt with worse, Edmund."
Susan's voice followed, her tone slightly condescending. "You'll be perfectly fine, Ed. Besides, the last thing you want is for Lucy to see how scared you are. She's already terrified—she can't even remember her last dentist appointment."
I frowned at my older siblings' 'encouraging' words. That was all fine and dandy for them to say now. Their appointments weren't for another two weeks. I huffed at the injustice of it all. Why in all of Narnia did Mum have to schedule me and Lucy first?
"To get it over with," she had stated simply when I had asked. At the time, Lucy and I had exchanged incredulous expressions.
Upon waking this morning, Lucy had been unusually pale, clinging to my hand in a childlike manner that was very unlike the mature queen I had become accustomed to. Sometimes I forget that here, Lucy's just as much of a child as I am. Of course, she didn't have to squeeze my hand so tightly.
The door leading to the dentist's chair opened, and my sister crept out quickly. She offered me a small smile. The dental hygienist moved to converse shortly with our mum, and Lucy plopped down on the chair beside me. She sighed heavily.
"So?" I prompted. My own memories of the dentist were foggy at best. When the war began we didn't have money to spend on luxuries like regular trips to the dentist office—though I'm hardly sure that an excursion to have your teeth cleaned counts as a luxury. More like torture if my memory serves me correctly.
Lucy cocked her head to the side, smiling awkwardly as her tongue grazed over her newly cleaned teeth. "It wasn't so bad, Ed."
I raised an eyebrow at her downcast eyes—an expression I had grown quite adept at deciphering. "You're lying," I stated bluntly. She began to shake her head, but I cut her off. "Nope, you're lying, Lucy. I can tell. You've always been a horrible liar."
She knew from years of experience that she had been caught, and huffed in defeat. "All right, so it was perfectly awful. Peter and Susan were lying to me."
I laughed, bumping her shoulder. "Yeah, I know." Ignoring her outraged expression, I continued. "It's your own fault for believing them. You know how they get."
She licked her lips, wincing as she came across an undoubtedly foreign and sour flavor. "Just… just think about Narnia, Edmund. That's what I did."
I opened my mouth to reply, but was stopped by two words I did not particularly want to hear at the moment. "Edmund Pevensie?"
I had never thought my own name could make me feel so much dread. I rose slowly, relinquishing Lucy's grasp on my hand. I felt the blood drain out of my face and shot a desperate look at my little sister.
Her small face scrunched up before she rushed to me, giving me a quick hug. "King Edmund the Just isn't afraid of anything."
The increasingly impatient dental hygienist looked baffled, but Mum just shrugged. "It's a game they play," she explained to the hygienist tiredly.
Ignoring my warning look, Lucy continued. "I'll be here when you return, milord."
My shoulders straightened at the phrase Lucy had repeated to me so often on the eve of battle. I winked at her rakishly as was my role in the interchange, and she sat down, satisfied that she had done her duty.
My newfound courage, I was appalled to find, did not last long as I was led to a strange looking chair surrounded by shiny tools.
Sure, as a King of Narnia it was in my job description to be familiar with the use of shiny, pointy objects, but certainly none of the weapons I had acquainted myself with ever looked menacing. Noble and heroic, yes, but cunning and alien? Most definitely not.
I gingerly seated myself in the chair, balking as a lever reclined it so I was nearly lying down. The hygienist sat on a stool near me and began asking me what I thought to be rather pointless questions.
Did I feel any pain in my gums? Had I lost all of my baby teeth?—I desired to tell her that yes, as a matter of fact, I have lost all of my baby teeth, but seeing as I'm pretty sure I still
have two or three, that would most likely confuse her—and my personal favorite, was I enjoying my summer? At that point, I raised my eyebrow reproachfully. Thank-you for asking, and yes, I was. Up until this particular outing, that is.
I kept my comments to myself as I had learned to do after years of sitting through babbling suitors and boring ambassadors.
Finally, she strapped some sort of paper bib to my chest—I get that I'm no longer my dashing and kingly self, but honestly, do I really need a bib?—and instructed me to "please open up, dear."
I was forced to comply. As it normally did, my jaw cracked as I extensively widened it. It had been doing that since I had taken a blow to the jaw from a minotaur during an early campaign. But the hygienist, or Gerda as she told me to call her, didn't know that. Her eyebrows shot up to hide beneath a mop of thin, blonde hair. I shrugged as best I could from my position. "It always does that," I mumbled with my mouth still opened.
Saying nothing, she picked up her tools of choice, a silver pointy thing that she proceeded to stab me with and a small mirror to aid her in the stabbing. I couldn't help but wince as she went at one of my molars with particular fervor. Poke. Scrape. Poke. Scrape. It went on and on until finally she decided she had demolished that tooth as best she could.
That's when I learned what the bib was for.
Now, Gerda came at me with a spray bottle, squirting a large amount of water into my mouth. She instructed me to spit into a small bowl, which I did, but not before a small quantity of the water dribbled down my chin and onto my chest.
I was mortified. Here I was, a king, drooling like a child. My thoughts went to Lucy. How could she even pretend such an experience wasn't so bad? As another splash of water landed on the bib, my thoughts were momentarily brightened as I imagined Peter in the same scenario.
High King or not, chances were he'd have no more control over his overflowing mouth than I did. I smirked, causing another trickle of water to stream down my chin.
Spitting into the bowl several more times, I furiously swiped at my wet face with my hand.
Gerda, it seemed, had watched me suffer long enough. "Would you like something to wipe your face with?"
She could have asked that before I used my hand as a napkin.
I slouched back into the chair, shaking my head as politely as I could.
Again, I opened my mouth, jaw cracking, and settled into the chair, determined to think about Narnia.
This time, my mouth was the happy host to some machine that did something or another to my teeth. And of course, it required continual use of the spray bottle.
My thoughts did turn to Narnia, though they likely weren't the thoughts Lucy had meant to think about.
I hadn't been to the dentist in nearly twenty years.
Why start now? I wondered grimly.
In Narnia, there had just been no need. It was one of those things about England that we rapidly forgot and most certainly did not miss. I suppose the food was healthy enough and the water pure enough that our teeth were just naturally healthy. We hadn't even brushed them like Mum makes us do here.
Another way Narnia trumps England.
The thought was not at all encouraging, so I forced myself to take a more humorous approach. The machine was screeching across my teeth, making them ache in a way that's nearly impossible to describe. All I can come up with is shrill. And of course that doesn't even fit.
There must have been something wrong with my front teeth, because the machine halted there, grinding away at what I considered to be a very important part of my—someday—winning smile.
Although Narnia had never tortured prisoners of war, I couldn't help but think how fitting this type of treatment might be. Just grind away at the poor prisoner's teeth until he's got to say something.
If Rabadash hadn't been turned into an ass, I would have liked to see him make it through a dentist appointment. Especially if he had cavities.
Gerda chose this particular moment to strike up a conversation. "So, Edmund, how old are you?"
She couldn't be serious. My mouth was full of water, some sort of machine, and what I assumed to be tooth dust, and she was asking me how old I was?
I had to stop to think.
"Argh…. 'M twerten," I garbled, knowing that I was nowhere near coherent.
She nodded as if she totally understood me. "Aah, what I lovely age. I remember when I was that age. Though that was years and years ago." She laughed as though she had said something terribly witty.
If doing so wouldn't have caused me to launch a waterfall of drool onto my already soaked chest, I would have smiled wryly. I had been thirteen (as was the age I tried to state) years and years ago too.
The small room fell silent with the exception of the whirring machine, and I found myself becoming exceedingly uncomfortable in this position. The last time I had been so trapped and so helpless… well, I didn't really like to think about it.
I flexed my fists, realizing that they had been tightly clenched for some time now. Fingering my palms, I could feel the indentations that my nails had made.
Finally, the screeching stopped, and I was instructed to sit up and spit. A feat, which I proudly noted, I was getting better at. I resisted the temptation to rub my tongue over my teeth as Lucy had done, knowing that I would likely be met with some foul tasting substance.
Gerda stood, and I foolishly let hope bloom. Perhaps we were done! Perhaps we were finally to the point where I could say, "Oh, yes, it flew by."
As I said, it was a foolish hope.
Gerda stripped off her rubber gloves and smiled at me like I was some two-year-old. Yes, I understand that I was not exactly controlling my salivary glands, but honestly, was that really my fault?
"Dr. Jenkins will see you shortly."
My mind reeled. Dr. Jenkins? Did this mean that there was more? There was a part two?
I remembered Peter's statement that I'd dealt with worse. Well, Peter had been wrong before, and he was most definitely wrong this time.
I couldn't think of anything worse than being virtually helpless while some stranger pokes and prods at your mouth. I mean, my gums may not hurt, but they are sensitive. And it doesn't make me any less of a man to admit it.
I thought of all of the injuries and mishaps that had occurred in Narnia, but at least there I had a sword to fight with. Or if not a sword, a dagger. Here, I was essentially a prisoner.
Dr. Jenkins was a crisp looking man, garbed in a white lab coat with rubber gloves adorning his hands.
I sighed resignedly, sinking back into the chair.
"Hello, Edmund. I see this is your first trip in quite a while."
I nodded, "Yes, sir," all the while thinking that he had no idea how true that statement was.
He took Gerda's position beside me and again instructed me to open up. Honestly, I don't need to be told how to open my mouth.
Apparently, Gerda had told him about my jaw's abnormal tendency to crack, and he surveyed it closely. Finally, he looked at me.
"Your jaw seems fine."
I smiled at him and offered my agreement. Well, of course it was fine. It had been healed by a drop from Lucy's cordial, but just like a scar, the annoying cracking was another reminder of a life left behind.
Once again assuming the position, Dr. Jenkins went to work, continuing with the poking and prodding that these people seemed to be so fascinated with.
"Your sister's a lovely girl. No cavities at all and such a beautiful smile."
Forgetting that this man was decades older than my sister and interested in everyone's smiles, I bristled at his compliment of Lucy. Finally, he withdrew his hands.
"It seems as if you are cavity-free as well, Edmund. Both you and your sister have extraordinarily healthy teeth for your age. Well done."
Now that my mouth wasn't full of water, I managed a smirk. Perhaps not brushing is the best policy.
Dr. Jenkins didn't seem to think so. "Now, your teeth are in pristine condition currently, but in order to maintain this you need to keep brushing and flossing daily. Understand?"
This chair seemed to reduce me to monosyllabic answers. "Yes."
He gestured for me to once again lean back, and I resisted the urge to sigh. This whole up-down-up-down procedure was getting rather tiresome.
This time, Dr. Jenkins was equipped with some sort of brush and a small jar. "Edmund, I'm just going to be coating your teeth with fluoride, so please try and keep your tongue in the center of your mouth."
I opened my mouth carefully, delicately suspending my tongue away from my teeth and lips, hoping to avoid any confrontations with the fluoride that was deemed "mint" flavor.
As the process continued, I was horrified to find that while I was successfully keeping my tongue a good distance from the sticky substance, I could actually taste the essence of the fluoride.
"Doing all right?" Dr. Jenkins asked me.
I mumbled a feeble "Uh-huh."
Or at least I was managing. That is until Dr. Jenkins decided it was time to rinse out my mouth. Now, not only was I faced with the prospect of drooling like a two-year-old, but my efforts to avoid the fluoride had been utterly futile.
I hated losing.
Dr. Jenkins squirted my mouth, and a horribly sour taste flooded my taste buds. I quickly spit it out, gagging slightly.
That was mint?
Standing, Dr. Jenkins removed my bib before stripping off his gloves and throwing both in the waste bin.
I felt my cheeks redden as I noticed the slobber smeared all over the gloves and became even more embarrassed when I realized that the removal of the bib had revealed a wet patch on my chest.
Bloody brilliant. Really.
As Dr. Jenkins stood over me, I refused to let myself hope for the end. It had been denied of me once, so why should now be any different?
I could barely believe it when Dr. Jenkins extended his hand, gesturing for me to stand. I shook it gingerly.
"It's been nice meeting you, Edmund. Gerda will be out to talk with your mum in a moment.
By Aslan! Was I really free to leave? Just like that? I took a tentative step toward the door, and no one tried to stop me.
Without glancing over my shoulder I quickly strode out the door, an enormous feeling of relief welling within me.
Lucy jumped up to greet me, beaming. "How was it?"
I grimaced. "Horrible."
She laughed, hugging me around the middle. "Mine too." Pulling away sharply, she gave me an amused look. "Ed, why's your shirt all wet?"
I blushed. "I er… all of the water and squirting… I was having a problem with the spitting part…"
A mocking smile stretched across her face for the briefest of moments. "Don't worry. I bit her."
"Lucy!" I cried, shocked that my little sister would do such a thing.
She held up her hands defensively, "It was an accident, Ed! I would never purposely do something like that. Of course not!"
I rolled my eyes. "Oh, sure." I mocked her.
She grinned at me. "Did Peter tell you it couldn't be worse that some of the things we dealt with in Narnia?" I nodded, and she looked at me expectantly. "Well, what did you think?"
I scoffed at her. "It was a hundred times worse, Lucy."
Apparently relieved, she heaved a large sigh. "Oh good, I'm glad you thought so. I was afraid that I was just being a baby."
I glanced down at my damp shirt. "Well, that makes two of us."
She licked her lips again, and I was surprised to find myself rubbing my own teeth with my tongue. Mum stood up, waving us toward the door.
"Come along, children. Your brother and sister are waiting for us at home."
At the mention of our older siblings, Lucy's forehead puckered thoughtfully. "What will we tell Peter and Susan?"
I smiled at her wickedly. "We'll tell them that it was quite the adventure."
A mischievous gleam entered Lucy's eyes as she laughed delightedly. "Peter will be so excited."
I swept up her hand in my own, my tongue feeling my strangely smooth teeth. "Oh yes, quite the adventure indeed."
I don't want to offend any of those who practice dentistry, but I've always hated going to the dentist. As I sat there in the chair today, futilely attempting to distract myself from the scraping and poking happening in my mouth, this idea popped into my head.
I did actually look up the technology that dentists had available to them during the forties, so all of this stuff is relatively relevant. Even the machine thing. What I am unsure about, is how often people went and how expensive it was. So please, just enjoy it for what it is.
I don't own the Pevensies or Narnia.