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As I looked at the black clock on the far wall it turned 12:15. Five minutes more until my mom picked me up. I could not stand sitting in class any longer. The tension was strong. I was anxiously waiting, staring at the second hand ticking away. My feet were tapping against the carpeted floor. I had been yearning for this moment for 304 days (yes, I had been counting). Now the time was here. It still felt like it was a year away. The minute hand struck the five, and my hand bolted up. I was sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting impatiently for my teacher to call on me.
Finally she called on me. “I have to go to my . . . um… appointment,” I said exuberantly, not wanting to announce to the whole class that I was on my way to the orthodontist to get my braces off. Dr. Freedman, my orthodontist, told me not to tell anyone and to see if someone would notice the change, this was a challenge. I picked up my polka dot bag, I dragged it across the floor and then, in one swift motion, hurled it across my shoulder as I opened the door to the classroom.
I walked down the 5/6 hallway, smiling and filled with emotions. The sun was reflecting off the shimmering multi colored tile floor. I passed Kathryn, the secretary for the middle school. I inhaled the fresh rose scent of her perfume. “Oh, Kathryn I am leaving early, may I sign out?”
“Sure, you know the deal.” Kathryn said anxiously, wanting to get where she was going. The sound of her high heeled shoes clinking against the floor subsided as she neared the end of the hall.
I skipped to her office which was in a corner where two hallways intersect. Attempting to shield myself from the glare, I placed my hands over my eyes. You know, I do want to be able to see my teeth once I get my braces off. I scribbled my name on the sign out sheet and raced towards the lobby to meet my mom. She was sitting by the front of the lobby talking with Anita who sits at the front desk.
I didn’t know what getting your braces off was going to feel like. Was it going to hurt? I imagined my orthodontist coming, wide- eyed, with a sharp tool at my face, ripping the metal brackets off that have been glued to my teeth! My mom was excited, too, well I guess. She has only had to bring me every four weeks to get them tightened and listen to me complain when they hurt. What about all those bills she had to pay when I broke a bracket chewing gum?
I don’t know how fast my heart was beating, but I do know if it went any faster my heart just might have exploded! I had herd about how great it is when all of my friends got them off. I was excited for them. But, today was the actual day when I was getting my braces off!
In the painfully elongated five minute car ride to the orthodontist’s office. I thought about all the pain and agony I went through with these stupid braces of the. Even though maybe, just maybe I will have straight teeth in an hour, the time I spent with them on was not fun. We pulled into the parking lot office. I pressed the button to the automatic car door; I catapulted out of the car.
The waiting room smelled like bubble gum toothpaste and latex gloves. Yuck! My mom grabbed a magazine from the table and sat in one of the few chairs left. The waiting room was packed! There were three children playing in the corner. A boy, wearing jeans and a red t-shirt, was playing with a red toy truck. A girl with blonde braids was coloring at the kid’s table on the other side of the room. An older girl with blonde hair walked out of the office and went over to the girl with braids. They seemed to be sisters, but it was hard to tell. A women left with her son. I strode across the room to the open seat. What seemed to be after just a second, a hygienist walked into the room. She said that I should come back and she would set me up. I energetically got up out of the chair and my mom promptly walked behind me.
The hygienist told me the process they were about to do. I took a seat in the medical chair and she reclined it. She put a napkin around my neck. Then she began to take off the rubber bands. Each band came off easily. Dr. Freedman came in to take the metal brackets off. He opened a packet of sterilized tools and laid them out on the table next to me. Dr. Freedman is a short man with glasses. He has gray hair and I hardly saw his face because he wore a mask that covered his nose and mouth and another mask that went over his eyes so that no flying brackets would get in his face.
Dr. Freedman put on those nasty smelling latex gloves that I always dread. He told me to close my eyes so that no pieces would soar into my eyes. Then all I could hear was cracking and piercing sounds that will horrify me for the rest of my life! What was he doing in my mouth? It sounded like he was breaking my teeth. An edged tool spiked into my upper gum, making me gag with disgust. Ouch! I couldn’t really say anything though. My mouth had a giant piece of plastic stretching my lips apart so that way he could see into my mouth. I wouldn’t have been surprised if when I got out of the chair, my lips had fallen off. Before I knew it, it was over. All the misery was in the past. Now there were gleaming, white perfect teeth in the reflection of the mirror Dr. Freedman was holding in front of my face.
“Wow” I said relieved. “That is it?”
“Yep” he said while motioning to me that I could get up from the chair. He handed me a cup of mouth wash to gargle. There was some blood from my mouth that got washed away in the sink. That was really not the prettiest sight. Dr. Freedman handed me a retainer and told me the instructions for it. He said for now, I only had to wear it to bed . . . yes!
My mom and I joyfully walked to the front desk. I rolled my tongue across my teeth. They felt really strange in a good way, like soft silk was on my teeth, a glossy sort of feeling. My mom paid the receptionist.
We arrived at the school. I gripped the thick shoulder straps of my backpack and ran inside. I was excited to show everyone my teeth. I realized it was recess so I put my bag in my classroom and went outside. It was pleasant. The past few days had been freezing. There was still snow on the ground, but it was warmer out now. I saw my friends on the football field. I stomped through the snow running towards them. I heard the icy slush crushing beneath my feet every step I took. I came to my friends ecstatically cheerful to show them my teeth. My friend Carolina said surprised. “Where have you been all lunch? Wait. There is something wrong with you! Why are you so happy?”
“I just changed something about my appearance.” I said, casually, still smiling.
“Oh my god!” Carolina shrieked stridently. “You got your braces off!”
Some other kids came over when they heard Carolina’s loud scream. They all commented on my teeth. Some kids who had not gotten their braces off asked me questions about how it felt. I explained to them the weird sounds and the feeling I had now when rolling my tongue over my teeth. We walked back inside and got ready for class. I was smiling so hard that night my cheeks started to hurt.
Park City, Utah
Green Bay, Wisconsin
St. Joseph, Missouri
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