I am told to count down from TEN. The surgeon looks down at me, my eyes squint at the fluorescent lighting that glints off his cornea, and for a second, I believe that I’m staring at the face of capital-g God. He runs his finger along my molars, like he’s playing a broken keyboard, the latex snagging on the tip of my caNINE and he rips his hand from my mouth; changes his glove. He tells me that “it’s wise of you to being doing this,” smirking, his smile getting caught in the polypropene of his surgical mask. I’m not removing my wisdom teeth because I want to. My dad simply warns of deadwEIGHT, while my mom warns me that if I don’t, my smile will be off, a crooked painting at the end of an illuminated hallway. I’m just worried about the pieces of me that will me be missing, like when I cried scraping my knee in the SEVENth grade, once I had seen the blood drip, drip, dripping, my essence splattering on a granite sidewalk. My eyes are shutting, but I force the blinds open and catch him grabbing a metal tool, one of SIX, the tool, blinding in the searing light, threatening in regards to my limp state. I like movement, I like to reaffirm myself that I am in fact in control and I like the way my ballet teacher whispers, “FIVE, six, seven, eight,” like she, too, can’t wait for the spring show (the specifics of which I can’t recall right now). My mind is skating on an ice rink glazed in honey, my thought process, caught on the number FOUR, because my vision is tiptoeing away from me, my throat closing in on my esophagus, my heart skipping every THREE beats.
I am subordinate to the isoflurane that glide through my capillaries. I anticipate the crunching of my skull, the shooting through my jaw, the ache in my tooth that will continue endlessly into the future. I await the humming of the drill, the gaping hole it’ll form in my gums. I await it like I patiently wait for tomorrow’s thunderstorm or the soup that I’ll eat for lunch TWO weeks from now, like I await the few moments I’ll knock on capital-d Death’s doorstep, a musty ‘welcome’ sign strangling beneath my tired feet; and I await His audience like I count to ten, counting down to a ONE I’ll never get to —