Covered in neutral tones of grey, walls with shiny dental pics glaring at me from the side of the angular arm, the dentist chair smelled new. Our dentist looked younger than I expected, fresh in bold pink scrubs, hazel brown eyes filled with the excitement about her first year as Doctor Z.
I remained as relaxed as I could be, eyes searching for the old posters on the walls and ceiling of alligators grinning, and cartoon characters wagging floss and toothbrushes. My grown children will miss those posters, too.
I felt the hands on my left cheek, the numbing agent complete followed by the needle that appeared longer than a sewing needle; some things don't change.
“Relax and breathe deeply, go to your happy place,” the dentist suggested. I wanted to scream but was afraid to choke.
A moment later, I found myself standing next to the two horses in a pasture not far from home. They come to the barbed fence when I don't have the dog with me, allowing me to rub their noses even without food in my hands to tempt them. The stallion is always the first while the palomino hangs back. This time she gently nudged her head toward me but a sharp pain from the barbed wire shook me.
The dentist grimaced. I'm sorry she said, "I need to numb your jaw a little more."
When my eyes closed again and I could breathe easily the fence didn't exist. The palomino knelt and I climbed on her bare back. I could only see prairie and hills ahead, no busy intersections or sirens blaring. She trotted to the lower forty acres out toward the creek that was filled with cool spring water. She dipped her head to drink and slapped the flies with her tail. I giggled until a drool slid down my face and neck. It felt cold against my hot skin. My tongue filled my mouth and made no effort to help me.
"Are you ok?" the dentist asked.
“Do you need a break? This will be a long procedure and I don't want you to feel it.”
My head nodded, I had no control.
The noise and the stinging stopped. My mouth felt the cool water sprayed around. The trickle of water ran down my throat taking me back to the horse, and she slowly pulled up her head and trotted down the side of the creek bed and off through the blooming yellow wildflowers in motion from the breeze of the butterflies feeding.
"Hang in there, we are almost finished. Then we will prep you for the crown. You've been very calm the last hour."
The dental assistant placed a damp cloth on my forehead and assured me all was done and my mouth was healthy. Time to take a breath and sit up slowly. My jaw felt swollen and sore.
Stepping outside I noticed the birdsong in the tree across the way, a mockingbird.