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A Tooth For A Tooth

The nerve of him

By Ali SPPublished 4 months ago 1 min read
Top Story - January 2024
Acrylic Painting by Author

Counterclockwise, then clockwise, my fingers move. It's all about feeling. Closing my eyes always helps.

"Not too much longer, Mrs. Dolores."

She nods her head. Snoring then envelopes the room. I continue to twist the endodontic file.

"Dentists aren't doctors."

Dad's voice echoes in my head.

It's been snowing for two days. I'm closing the office early today, with Mrs. Delores being the last patient. I feel my assistant's gaze piercing through my head. Some teeth are easier than others—some I need to take my time.

Early this morning, I drove to our old church. On the bench outside, the snow covered the seats like fluffy cushions. I watched white feathered crystals blanket the ground while a few bounced in the wind. In a few days, things would be different. A reminder that whatever we bury inside resurfaces.

With teeth shattering, my hands clenched and unclenched. The burning in my fingertips continued. It was a year ago during a similar snowy day. I should pay my respects, but my feet seem planted. In the distance, a redpoll lands on his gravestone. Who said a gravestone is an end to a story?

I remove the rubber dam, and the assistant takes the final X-rays.

"Root canal is completed, Mrs. Delores. Get home safely, and let us know if you need anything."

She smiles and hugs me, reminding me I'm her favorite dentist.

Walking to my office, I whisper, "You must let it go! Everyone, even the dead, deserves a second chance."

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About the Creator

Ali SP

Ali has found a renewed passion for reading and creating. It is now a form of expression for her– another creative outlet which she works to improve upon.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  1. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  2. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

  3. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

  4. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  5. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (16)

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  • Anna 3 months ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳

  • Marilyn Glover4 months ago

    I have had a fear of dentists since one struck me years ago when I was pregnant with my youngest daughter. Sigh.... I am working on this fear, though, as I realize my situation was far from normal never mind unacceptable. Ali, I am so excited to see your work again. Up until recently, I haven't frequented Vocal much, but I have rekindled my spark to create here. I miss your art, which is still splendid, and congratulate you, although late, on top story in January!

  • Rowan Finley 4 months ago

    This has me thinking. 🤔

  • Rachel M.J4 months ago

    Chills at this line, " A reminder that whatever we bury inside resurfaces." SO beautiful.

  • Andrea Corwin 4 months ago

    Argggh - I won't be going to this office, knowing how his mind is wandering🙀

  • Natasha Collazo4 months ago

    This was great. I have now have a new fear of dentists 😂👏🎊

  • Rachel Deeming4 months ago

    I'm going to be wondering what is going through the head of my dentist next time I'm there. Emotional baggage can be weighty. I hope he feels lightened by the hug. Great artwork too.

  • Sandra Tena Cole4 months ago

    Chilling and fun at the same time! Well deserved TS ❣️

  • sleepy drafts4 months ago

    Wooohooo!! Congratulations on Top Story!!!

  • Tiffany Gordon 4 months ago

    gorgeous work Ali! Very profound!

  • Cathy holmes4 months ago

    This is a beautiful story, impeccably written. Congrats on the TS.

  • An excellent thought-provoking take on the challenge

  • Mariann Carroll4 months ago

    Very controversial!!!!!😊

  • Babs Iverson4 months ago

    Spectacular as always!!! Loving this!!!

  • sleepy drafts4 months ago

    Oh, Ali - this is so beautiful. There is so much nuance tightly woven into this short story. I love the theme/meaning at the end and the way the snow on the bench feels like it reflects that idea of fresh starts. Every word here has at least one purpose. Magnificent. 💗 Also, I was so happy to see one of your paintings, again!💓

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