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by Iris Macor

The dentist strapped her to the chair first thing. Regina was an infamous squirmer. Then he pried her mouth open and told the hygienist to hold it that way while he worked. The woman watched for any hint of movement, the least twitch in Regina’s jaw that would signal an impending bite. The dentist hovered above Regina’s face, holding a needle at least six inches long.

“Close your eyes,” he said, “it won’t hurt but a minute.”

Regina wasn’t going to let him fool her. She kept them open even while they watered, and thought she felt the tip of the needle poke out the other side, brush up against her nostril. He left her with the hygienist while he waited for her to “numb up.” She chomped down on gloved fingers while she still had the chance and then the woman fled too, leaving her alone and bound to the chair.

He returned five minutes later, a different woman in scrubs at his side; jumpy, this one, more than the last. Regina gnashed her teeth until the dentist scowled her into submission. He filled her mouth with drill, grinding, grating, tooth dust filling her nostrils, catching in her throat. After what seemed a long time, he pulled out and squirted water in her mouth that splashed against her teeth, jumped into her still-open eyes.

He and the hygienist left the room. Regina ran her tongue across now sharpened edges, her fangs. He’d given her a mouth full of them, razor sharp. She tasted blood. She was a beast, a wild animal they could not tame. By giving her fangs, he’d given her back to herself. She savored the metallic taste. The pinpoint edges fit together like an all-done puzzle. She wanted to look in the mirror, so she lowered her face to the strap and began to gnaw. The dentist came back in, called for his assistants, who — upon arrival — forced her head back against the chair.

“If you want a new toothbrush, the kind with a glittery handle, you’re going to have to sit still,” he said, clearly afraid, clearly at his wit’s end. She gave him a devil’s grin. He forced her mouth open once more and filled it with that awful-tasting smell that reminded her of her mother’s nail salon. He held a blue light to her mouth, gloved hand over her eyes.

He held up the mirror.

Regina cried, not great heaving sobs like a child, but quiet, like a wounded beast.

“My fangs,” she whispered.

“Fangs?” said the dentist. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. We only filled a cavity, and if you would brush your teeth as you ought, we wouldn’t have had to do that much.”

All the way home she licked her wounds, tongue flicking over falsity. But underneath, yes, underneath the pearly white, the dull edges, she knew what she was.

Copyright © 2010 by Iris Macor

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