Count Back From Ten

‘Okay, Connor. Count back from ten.’

I look down just in time to see the liquid sloshing through the wire into my veins. The dentist clicks his fingers at me.

‘Connor. Counting.’

I nod.

‘Ten, nine, eight, seven-‘

I stop. Not because I’m falling asleep, but because all these memories suddenly flood my mind.

‘When I was six, I stole an ice lolly from my playgroup.’

‘What?

‘I’ve called my Abuela four times in the past three years.’

‘Connor?’

‘I couldn’t tie my laces until I was 12. I read Green Eggs and Ham and I didn’t get it.’

‘Oh, crumbs.’ The trainee dentist pipes up from the other side of the room, ‘You know what I’ve gone and done, don’t you?’

‘No, actually.’ I say, ‘I don’t.’

‘I’ve given him the truth serum solution I’ve been working on.’

‘That’ll be it.’ The dentist says, taking his gloves off.

‘That’ll be it? What the fuck does that mean?’ I ask frantically.

‘You’re going to be spouting a lot of personal stories for the next-‘

He checks his watch and rolls his eyes.

‘4 hours.’

‘4 hours? I’m going to tell people about my fears that I’ll never be able to create a stable home for myself or my dependents for the next 4 hours?’

‘And also you’re going to have that dead tooth for a while longer, because I won’t be able to work with all your jabbering.’

‘Oh my god. Oh my god. This is worse than the time I told a teacher my parents used to lock me in the house and go out at night.’

‘What?’

‘Why do you even have truth serum in a dentist?’

‘Budget cuts mean this is a dentist surgery slash research lab, with evening psychotherapy sessions.’

‘Seems legit. About as legit as any piece of French coursework that I handed in throughout Year 10. Shit. This is really powerful stuff!’

The trainee nurse sits down.

‘Yeah, it’s maybe the third or fourth strain we’ve tried now. The first one gave people a runny stomach.’

‘and the second one?’

‘Acute nightmares.’

‘Is that a thing?’

‘I can confirm, personally, that it is’ The dentist chimed in.

‘And what’s the side effects with this strain?’

They look at each other.

‘None.’ The nurse says unconvincingly.

‘None?’

‘…yet. None yet.’

‘Oh. Oh god. Oh my god.’

I try to get up but the dentist steps forward and pins me down.

‘Take it easy.’

‘Take it easy? I have a job interview tomorrow morning! What am I supposed to do? Tell the truth? Do you know how inexperienced I am? Do you know how much money I had to pay to get those references?’

‘Just lie down. We can give you something to sleep this off.’

‘You? Give me something? After the last thing you gave me broke me!’

I try to get up again but the dentist pins me down once more.

‘I want a goddamn cure and I want it now.’ I say, struggling on the dentist chair, ‘or so help me god, I’m going to…be mildly annoyed.’

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