// THE LABORATORY //
When I am escorted to the library, the Doctor Trelaine is already inside, flipping through one of the books open on the table. He looks up at me and grins in an attempt to disarm.
IT IS GOOD TO SEE YOU UP AND ABOUT.
HOW ARE YOU DOING?
I was groggy and disoriented.
I’M DOING FINE.
I ran my tongue against my tongue, against my missing teeth. There are gaps. Soft gum feels tender, violated.
I THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO SET MY TEETH IN THE RIGHT SPOT.
He seems, if anything with him could be regarded as genuine, truly apologetic.
I WAS ABLE TO REMOVE THE MILK TEETH WITH LITTLE PROBLEM, BUT BRINGING YOUR ADULT TEETH INTO THEIR PROPER PLACES PROVED…
I WAS UNABLE TO MOVE THE TEETH.
BUT THEY WILL DESCEND NATURALLY IN THEIR OWN TIME.
I LOOK RIDICULOUS.
Even speaking was showing itself to be a burdensome task. I was unaware to the degree to which I’d adjusted to having the teeth crowded into my jaw.
YOU DON’T LOOK RIDICULOUS.
THIS IS JUST A TRANSITION. A PHASE. IT WILL PASS.
YOUR ADULT TEETH NOW HAVE ROOM TO FALL INTO PLACE.
I WANT MY TEETH BACK.
NOW, NOW, KEVIN. LET’S NOT GET WORKED UP.
THEY’RE MY TEETH. I GREW THEM. I WANT THEM BACK.
WELL, I’M NOT ABLE TO GIVE THEM BACK TO YOU UNTIL YOU ARE DISCHARGED FROM THE HOSPITAL.
A NUMBER OF THEM ARE QUITE SHARP.
YES, I HOPE THAT IN TIME, WHEN YOU’VE BECOME ACCUSTOMED TO US HERE…
WE’LL RELOCATE YOU TO SOMEWHERE MORE COMFORTABLE.
PERHAPS ONE OF MY GUEST ROOMS.
BUT YOU MUST SHOW YOURSELF TO BE TRUSTWORTHY. WE MUST BE ABLE TO TRUST YOU.
I raise an eyebrow. I did not want to open my mouth.
DO NOT WORRY ABOUT YOUR TEETH. THEY WILL RETURN IN TIME. BETTER THAN EVER.
THIS IS NOT WHAT YOU PROMISED ME.
FOR THAT, I APOLOGIZE.
I TRULY THOUGHT I’D BE ABLE TO WORK ON YOU AS I DO MY OTHER PATIENTS.
BUT THE TEETH WOULD NOT BUDGE.
THEY ARE STILL ALIVE, HOWEVER, AND SHOULD ERUPT IN THE COMING YEAR.
At this I’m dumbfounded.
YOU EXPECT ME TO WAIT A YEAR?
I SAID ‘IN THE COMING YEAR’.
NO, IT SHOULD NOT TAKE AN ENTIRE YEAR FOR YOUR ADULT TEETH TO GROW INTO PLACE.
NO, I’M SURE IT WILL BE MUCH LESS THAN THAT.
BUT I WAS UNABLE TO MOVE THEM DURING THE PROCEDURE.
IT WAS SURPRISING TO ME TOO.
BUT NOW THAT YOUR OTHER TEETH ARE REMOVED, THERE IS PLENTY OF ROOM –
“PLENTY OF ROOM”; I’LL SAY!
Whatever sort of monster I’d resembled before, now I appeared with a mostly toothless frown. I certainly didn’t make a very frightening vampire.
I wanted to threaten him but I had no ammunition.
MY PARENTS WILL BE FURIOUS.
YOUR PARENTS WERE TOO NEGLIGENT TO SEE THAT YOU WERE BARELY ABLE TO FUNCTION WITH YOUR VESTIGIAL MILK TEETH STILL STUCK IN YOUR GUM.
YOU’LL SOON FIND TALKING, EATING, SMILING, ALL OF THESE THINGS WILL COME TO YOU MORE EASILY.
NOW THAT WE’VE REMOVED THE IMPEDIMENTS.
YOU’RE A QUACK.
YOU’RE NOT THE FIRST, NOR WILL YOU BE THE LAST TO ACCUSE ME OF SUCH A THING.
BUT I DO GOD’S WORK.
IT WILL GET EASIER FOR YOU, AS THE TEETH SETTLE DOWNWARD.
AND I WILL BE PROUD TO SEE YOU JOIN THE RANKS OF YOUR KIND.
I did not like the choice of the word ‘proud’ and I longed to be with my father, glancing over tomes.
How could this man be proud of me? He hardly knew me.
I’LL NEVER JOIN YOU.
I HOPE WITH SOME TIME AND THOUGHT, YOU’LL FORGIVE ME.
WHAT HAPPENED WAS OUT OF MY CONTROL.
WE NEED ONLY BE PATIENT. I HOPE YOU’LL BE PATIENT WITH ME. AND PATIENT WITH YOURSELF.