*Today my writing teacher assigned us to write a short story in 4 minutes. We could choose between the topics of "tomato", "teeth," and "Sunday". I chose "teeth". This is what came out.
There is a line of thousands outside trying to get in. Most that show up are immigrants from places like Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. I flip through my pocket dictionary. How do I say things like, “cavities, gingivitis, extraction, root canal?" I ask myself.
The dentists provide three services: cleaning, fillings, and extractions. Anything else had to be done elsewhere. Anything else had to be paid for.
“The pain is back here,” one of them tells me.
I translate for the dentist. After a 30 second examination, the dentist says to me that he needs a root canal. They don’t do root canals, but they can take out the tooth.
I explain this to him. He asks for clarification. I translate to the dentist.
“Take it out or pay for a root canal,” the dentist says.
I translate back. He thinks for a bit.
“I think I’ll keep it. I don’t have many left,” he smiles.
There are maybe 6 teeth left in his mouth.
He gets up slowly. Having waited in 4 hours of lines, he goes home with nothing. He stands for a moment, then begins to walk away. The next patient sits down.