Cleaning, Part 2

“And HOW is my little bird today?” Dr. Jasper had far too much energy to do anything less than sweep into a room.

The Bird wondered if he knew about her new name, given to her last month during one of her first practices with the fencing team. No, she realized, he’d always called her little bird.

“Hmmm?” Dr. Jasper’s eyes grew wide as he looked down at her in the dentist chair, a surprising amount of severity on his face. He had always spoken to her with kindness, even when reminding her about flossing and reaching into the back of her mouth when brushing. And she had always responded to his generosity of spirit, had enjoyed talking to him, telling him about her friends at school or her life at home, at times even sharing secrets she hadn’t even shared with her mother.

The Bird nodded as she looked up at him, not remembering what he’d asked.

“Well I GUESSSS my little bird won’t be SSSSINGING for USSSS today!” The playful lilt, accentuated by his sibilant lisp, had returned to his voice, and The Bird smiled, feeling at ease once again.

The dentist mouthed a command for The Bird to open, and the reclining teen responded like a baby animal seeking to be fed as he turned on the overhead lamp and adjusted it over his head as he leaned over her. She heard the peroxide hygienist mention something about a chip on 36; Dr. Jasper reached into her mouth with a pick, scrapped a tooth on the back of her lower jaw, then nodded in agreement before standing back up, deftly nudging the overhead lamp while turning off its bulb in one motion.

“We need to sssssee you in a couple weeksssss.” The Bird nodded. “But before we sssset that up — ” he looked down at her with parental concern — “could you tell me what’sssss BOTHERING you?”

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