Donna angrily watched as her friend Sarah had her teeth examined. The ten year old hated everything about these visits from the local dentist. There were much better things she could be doing than standing in line, like reading or taking a math test. These interruptions to her education infuriated her. If looks could kill, the dentist would have been dead as soon as he walked through the door.
Once every two months a local dentist dressed in a badly fitting suit would come to the school and examine their teeth. He would jot down notes then send them back to their desk. Those who needed work would be summoned to the nurse’s office and the dentist would perform work on the students. One of the benefits of the private Catholic school she attended.
Donna had never been called to the nurse’s office but she’d heard the stories from her classmates. He was cruel and evil, they said, but they could never say what was so bad about it. It was enough, though, for her to hope she never had to go and to do her best to make sure she took care of her teeth.
It was her turn. The dentist looked around her mouth, poked and prodded. “Hmm,” the dentist said after taking far too long to look at her perfect teeth then jotted some words on the pad of paper. They were indecipherable. Donna did not like this at all.
When she got home, Donna brushed her teeth extra long and flossed twice. She brushed twice after dinner and again before bed. Surely her teeth were perfect.
The next day, her name was called on the intercom.
“Please don’t make me go,” Donna begged her teacher.
“Don’t be a baby. Look at Timmy, you don’t see him crying. This is his third time this year!”
Donna’s eyes widened as she looked at her classmate. His eyes were glazed over and his body was rigid. There was a bit of blood on his shirt and his lower lip was swollen.
“You can’t make me!”
“You have to go,” her teacher said.
“Please Miss Higgins! Don’t make me go!”
“Don’t be such a baby!”
Donna stood her ground. “I won’t go.”
The teacher picked up the phone and called the nurse. “She is being difficult ... Okay, thank you.”
“You have to go now,” Miss Higgins said firmly.
“No, I won’t!” Donna yelled then turned to run out of the class to hide. Standing in the doorway was the dentist. He was in a white uniform with a mask over his mouth and nose. His eyes were dark and forbearing.
“Come along,,” he said in a sinister voice then took her by the arm and dragged her to his office. He strapped her arms, waist and chest to the chair then forced her mouth open, using blocks to keep her from being able to close her mouth.
He tilted the chair back and turned on a bright light. Donna couldn’t see anything but the brightness then spots when she blinked. The dentist poked and prodded her mouth again, searching for whatever he’d seen the day before. It was in the back left on the bottom.
“Found it! It is a little cavity so it won’t take long,” he said then placed a few drops of novocaine on the area around the tooth then started to drill out the cavity. She tried to scream but no sound came out. Her fingers dug deep into the chair as he drilled deeper. It seemed like an eternity had passed before he was done.
“Just a little filling then you can go back to class.”
Donna stared blankly at the light, unable to even nod her head. He mixed some filler then sloppily covered the hole he’d made. “Don’t eat anything until lunch,” he told her as he cleaned up the mess he’d made then unfastened the belts. “Here’s a pamphlet on how to take care of your teeth properly.”
She nodded her head then stumbled out of the chair, gripping the information sheet tightly in her hand. When Donna got back to her desk she started to read it and vowed never to let him, or any dentist, near her teeth again.
From that point on, Donna was always sick on the days the dentist came to visit and followed the instructions from the pamphlet obsessively. As she got older, she became increasingly obsessive about it and rubbed her gums raw, until they bled, and wore down the enamel on her teeth until it was barely there.
Her parents dragged her, kicking and screaming, to their dentist. He strapped her arms and waist to the chair, for her ‘safety’.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said as he examined her teeth. “How long has she been like this?”
“She’s been obsessive about brushing her teeth for fourteen years but it has only gotten like this recently,” her mother explained.
“I am going to have to perform surgery to sew up her gums and apply a preservative to protect the enamel and allow it to grow back.”
Donna stared blankly at the ceiling, the memories of the last time she was in a dentist’s chair flooding her mind. When they left the room she pulled her right arm out of the belt and unfastened herself then grabbed the sharpest utensil.
The dentist returned alone. She lunged at him, slicing his face and neck manically as she repeatedly screamed, “Never again.”
Her parents and the dental assistant ran into the room. Donna’s father pulled her off him and held her tightly. She was covered in blood and breathing heavily, struggling to get away so she could slash the dentist more. Unwittingly, she’d cut a main artery in his neck and he was dead before the ambulance got there.
Donna didn’t care. She was pleased that she killed him. The jury found her guilty by reason of insanity and the judge ordered her into treatment for her obsessive need to brush her teeth and to control her anger.
When she was released six months later, she made an appointment to see the dentist from her childhood. She was almost giddy as she sat in the chair and waited for him to come into the room.
“Do you remember me?” Donna asked. She was smiling wide, showing off her damaged teeth and battered gums. He barely seemed to notice as he pulled on rubber gloves.
“You filled my only cavity when I was a student at St. Michael’s.”
“I saw hundreds of children.”
“I remember you,” she said then lunged at him, shoving the knife she’d been hiding up her sleeve deep into his chest. Donna chanted, “Never again,” over and over as she chopped off his hands then shoved the fingers in his mouth.
When she was done she left the knife resting on the tray with the other dental utensils then grabbed a handful of toothbrush and floss samples. She walked out of the room and waved good-bye to the receptionist, blood still dripping from her hand.
Donna went home and brushed her teeth and gums until the bled. When the police found her she was hanging in the shower from several strands of dental floss that had been woven together to form a rope. On the wall, in blood from her gums, she’d written, “Never again."