Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Stanka Bajlozova-Barlamova

     She often saw the deformed open mouths of her patients in her dreams. The most distorted faces, she remembered of patients whose medical instructions were a diagnosis: extraction. Of all possible dental activities and interventions, tooth extraction was her highest medical speciality. When in her office, patients dared to ask the frequent question:

     – Will it hurt, doctor?

     In the thin closed lips, where she stealthily cracks  the sharp front teeth of the lower jaw, indifferently and with a half-open gaze that she calmly descended over the medical mask that covered half her face, she knew how to say:

     – It is pointless not to get a sweet in a Sweet shop, and not to leave the hospital without pain.

     And so you think she mercifully lowered both palms to the mouth of her patient and she continued to dig mercilessly and routinely into the open crater, from which came out spent and unusable materials. Her name was Needle Insightful, and patients and friends often called her Nee. She was not very satisfied with her private or her professional life, which they both she had been leading in the same line for many years. With her work she earned enough to provide with a comfortable and respectable life, which included a good car, a modernly furnished home, trips to at least six different destinations during the year, frequent outings among the prominent people of the city, as well as a bank balance on her own transaction account, the sum of which was not at all disappointing. Through the paths of her present, Nee was looking for something more than the usual everyday life. The needs of mind and body she directed to new and unexplored excitements that did not fit within the framework of daily routine habits.

     Last week, together with five other dentists, colleagues from the country, Nee visited the scientific laboratory at the medical university in San Francisco. Part of the scientific team, together with several doctors and professors, presented several new experiments to the guests, which meant a revolution in dentistry and human health. One of the latest scientific researches, which was still going through the stage of a partially completed and partially proven experiment, showed that the chemical and medical treatment of a healthy human tooth, with a high concentration of enormously mineralized tissue, could be a key drug for treating patients with the most severe type of osteoporosis and for a narrower circle of other types of diseases originating from the same family, if calcium and phosphorus achieve a satisfactory level of content concentration, and their origin arises from the hardest tissue of a healthy human organism. The scientists who gave the presentation went into such details that since then, like planted stubs, their words scraped day and night from Nee’s brain thought cells, and so every her new thought encouraged in desire for deviation and change from daily routine steps, so it created an opportunity for new excitements that for now were only fictitious, hidden in the space between her subconscious and her desire for their real realization.

     Very often after the visit of the scientific laboratory, she stared into the open mouths of her patients, so besides the interventions, she found countless other reasons to analyze their teeth in depth while she secretly writing signs and drawing shapes on sheets of paper. When some patients asked:

     – Doctor, have we finished? – because there were those who didn’t ask while feeling and knowing that the intervention was over a few minutes ago.

Then Nee would answer:

     – Yes, yes, we are. I’m just doing a survey and a small test on the ratio of decayed and healthy teeth in most of the patients, so during the research I have to write some things.

     To several regular patients who came once a month during the year, she also asked from them for additional types of examinations such as detailed blood tests, x-rays and echo scans for some parts of the body, as well as many additional laboratory tests, for which Nee found quite clever excuses and she easily and strongly convincingly connected all those “necessary tests” with the condition and dental diagnosis she determined for the patients.

     That day, after her working hours ended, she sat down at the only table in the room, and she compare the analyzes she had done on the patients, with all the conclusions and knowledge that she brought as a computer material from the San Francisco laboratory.

     It would not happen that any of her patients would ever say.

     – Take them Nee. I give you three of my healthy teeth and now you can treat a terminally ill patient, while at the forefront of things with that you can satisfy your own passions, training your adrenaline, your excitement and the limits of your mind in a state of doing illegal things, that will first defy and train your conscience, and then defy and question the law of the society in which you live.

     To help in performing medical interventions that were not yet in the final phase and were not definitively recognized from the world, and also in a country where the medical system and the term innovation were alien and far from each other, in all this, Nee saw an opportunity for self-research and a basis for analysis in the fanaticism of her own spirit, which after knowing about herself, it was put into a stage of hypnosis, in order to secure a compatible place in the crowd of general everyday life.

     Over the next few days, she emailed the science lab in San Francisco. In the email, written in English, there were:

Hello sir!

     During the next three months, I will send you mineralized tissues with a high concentration of phosphorus and calcium. Expect the shipment in late spring. Chello is the express mail that will contact you to deliver the item to you. I completed all the required documentation, along with the application, just before my departure from the lab and university last week.

                                                                                                                           Dr. N.I.”

     Already during the day, she received a positive answer.

     During the following days, on one of the blank sheets in her workbook, with a green ink pen, Nee wrote the first and last names of two persons who had been her “faithful patients” for years.

     As the days passed, Nee felt like she was living with an adrenaline bomb planted in her chest. Day and night, she thought about the procedure, whose complex breakdown into smaller thought-fictitious parts, in Nee, it stimulated a feeling of obsessive brain steam, which possessed her head, expelling even the smallest amount of oxygen, which had aim to clear the mind.

     Since she wrote the email, the encounters with her patients have become much different from before. It often happened during the interventions that her right palm would tremble, and instead of a hole in the tooth, she would pinch the patients along the soft groove, adding them unnecessary pain that had to be endured additionally. Rumors started around that Nee was no longer a professional. From the horde of the city came various rumors. There was that she started drinking a lot, and as a result she got the shaking of her palms, but people went to extremes that because of the failed love affair she started using intoxicating substances which reduce her instinctive gesticulation and therefore she makes mistakes at work. Despite this, Nee did not lose the quantity of patients that she “kept in check” for the last few years, and with that enabling her life quality, which from six years ago until now, has been growing in an upward line.

     When she finished work and returned home, she would first stop at the bar, pour herself a glass of liquor, and start her rest time on the white sofa in the living room. If even one of her patients could see this domestic ritual of hers, he would immediately come to the inclusive conclusion that the horde was right. But this was the only way for Nee to calm down the rapid heartbeat, which if it had continued, it would have easily and simply turned into a chronic medical diagnosis: tachycardia. Day and night she was constantly thinking about how and in what way she could extract some of the healthiest teeth she had ever seen in her life, pack them in the tiniest box that exists on planet earth, and send them on their way to San Francisco.

     Often during her sleep, she woke up in puddles of sweat, haunted by various nightmares that her subconscious imagination could not even imagine existed. She dreamed of huge white teeth slowly butchering her body. Then they left her body for hours to suffer the pain of countless raw wounds from which deep channels of fresh human blood formed. Further in the dream, an enormous jaw appeared that violently appropriated her body in the inner space, leaving it to the angry enzymes of the salivary secretion. She was drowning in someone’s saliva, which was simultaneously disintegrating her body like worms attacking a corpse. Then she would wake up and jump into her sleep, realizing that she was drowning in her own saliva, which during the night it had begun secreted in an enormous and uncontrollable quantity that clogged her airways.

     At night, she continued to sleep in a mental spasm that did not allow her muscles to fully relax. The two patients that she wrote their names with a green ink pen were supposed to come tomorrow.

     When she opened her eyes at six o’clock in the morning, she felt sick in her lower abdomen. Urgent bowel movements meant minimal relief from the stress. She washed, dressed, and so elegantly stepped towards the door to exit the home. She looked in the mirror, and today she looked more beautiful than ever.


     He looked in the mirror and today he looked more beautiful than ever. He had a narcissistic approach to himself. In his teenage years, his friends constantly teased him, telling that he had a devilishly gay attitude towards himself. In those years, he often felt hurt hearing such words. Today, the mirror reflection showed a solid and well-built male body with a face of soft and unexpressed lines, under whose eyelids the lighter and brighter side of life seemed to be hidden. Thread Slender (friends called him Thre), worked as a geography teacher in a high school. Thre loved to travel. He had traveled to many places in the world during his life and had set foot on every continent except Antarctica. Thre taught his students that their teeth also tingle there, so after leaving, there are high chances that throughout your life you will forever feel at least minimal pain in the hardest tissue of your own organism. He claimed that every human that set foot on that ground turned into the condition of a warmed onion, which had been left outside to freeze during several January days, when the thermometer read degrees below zero.

     Thre also had a small trip on his agenda for today, based just a few kilometers from his workplace. He had an appointment with the family dentist at twenty minutes past nine. He bought himself a bag of snacks from a nearby store as if he was going to walk into the city, and not to a medical intervention in which two teeth were to be extracted, so he slowly and cheerfully headed to the dental office in the peripheral part of the settlement. It was cold inside the waiting room of the dental office and there was at least a seven degree difference compared to the outside temperatures. He felt a coldness around his neck, and the aromas and smells coming from the closed door of the doctor’s office thickened and acidified his saliva. Last time, the dentist gave him a diagnosis: extraction of the two upper eight teeth (which were completely healthy), because of the possibility of displacement of all other teeth.

     – It is desirable to remove them because they can cause a lot of damage to all the other teeth in the jaw. Because of insufficient space for proper arrangement, some of the healthy teeth may also become diseased. The dentist’s words sounded convincing and firmly true, so Thre accept the doctor’s advice.

     By chance, there was another patient with the same diagnosis in the dentist’s waiting room.

     – Convincingly, many other people have the same problem with the eights as I do. – he thought, while he impatiently waiting for his turn to enter the office, like all other patients who have ever entered any other dental waiting room or office.

     When his turn finally came, for the first time in many years of coming to this room, he noticed the large letters on the advertising board that stood at the entrance. In the framed rectangle above the door, there was Dentist Dr. Needle Insightful.

     When he entering, Dr. Nee’s back was turned and together with the assistant nurse, they were preparing the instruments on the auxiliary mobile table.

     The intervention did not last more than half an hour in total. During the extraction, the meeting of gazes at a common point between Thre and the doctor was as inevitable as the meeting between the river and the whirlpool in the waterfall. A mask covered her face, so Thre could only see her eyes. Her eyes were large and green, and their gaze that put down across Thre’s face gave him a sense of confidence, not assuming that intuition was leading him toward to illusion.

     After everything was finished, he left the office and closing the door; he saw from the entrance of the waiting room that the woman who complained to him about the same diagnosis as his. Now she was walking towards the large dental chair that was probably still warmed by the natural energy of his body.

     Thre headed to one of the city stops. The effect of the anesthesia was wearing off, and he was already feeling pain. Only after the intervention was over, he thought: “Why did he pull out both teeth at the same time?” The tingling in his mouth slowly stopped, and with each subsequent second he was more and more actively engaging his brain cells in the process of thinking: Did he rush the procedure at all? On either side of his mouth there were now two medical treads that half blocked the space through which a small stream of air was partially circulating. The noise of vehicles rushing to all sides of the city clogged his ear canals, so all the time he was drowning in pain. He rushed to the bus number 15, which after about ten minutes got him off in the neighborhood. Thre spent the evening in pain and sleeplessness. He could not eat or drink anything. Both sides of his mouth were paralyzed. He somehow digest and understand the doctor’s diagnosis of removing both healthy teeth, but he couldn’t get any clear thoughts about why both sides of his oral cavity were disabled at the same time. The analgesics he drank did not help him enough to solve the discomfort that had plagued him during the day, so he reached for two pills of alprazolam, as a supplement to the dose from before. Around three in the morning, he finally fell asleep. After a long sleepless night, in the early hours of the morning, he finally release the tight muscle fibers. So, with a ticket for a temporary stay, he sent his body for a few hours in a state of impossible contact with reality.

     At four o’clock in the morning, Dr. Nee was still in the office. Seems that she was planning to continue working the next day with the same clothes untidy. On the dental assistant’s mobile table, there was a small box left with an address paper taped to it: Science Lab of The University of San Francisco, 1600 Holloway Ave, California. Neetook the first sips of her morning coffee and saw her reflection in the mirror. On her own, she looked tired, but also ready to observe and explore unknown parts of herself. She continued to look in the mirror, blinking several times, one after another, with her eyelids, which she felt inexplicably heavy.


     He continued to look in the mirror, blinking several times one after the other with his eyelids, which he felt inexplicably heavy. Three days after he fell ill, he had a significantly elevated body temperature. For reasons unknown to himself, his immunity was quite low, so during the winter periods he often fell ill. As Thre prepared his second refreshing lemonade, his four-year-old son stared mesmerized at his favorite TV channel where cartoons never stopped, but always started over and over. At the moment on TV they can see, starring the fox, the rabbit, the thread and the needle. The conversation between the needle and the thread went something like this:

“You are a weak thread

and you can’t sew anything without me,

if before with my needle point

I don’t create holes secretly.

The needle and the thread

in joint cooperation, they miracles can do

if the big secret to sewing only and unique

they hand it over to each other

and don’t tell to you.”

     Let’s change the channel, little one, that’s enough for today. The child did not like the request, but only his silent grimace was proof of that.

     Flicking up and down the channel list, Thre let his index finger hover over the remote when he stopped at the national home channel. The speaker’s words flowed quickly and without space for even a minimal pause between sentences.

     “The case with the famous home doctor with the initials N. I. has not yet been resolved and has stirred the public for a long time. The chief prosecutor and the lawyer of the doctor, with contradictory statements to the media. Corruption and crime in healthcare are moving across the country, while the position and the opposition are constantly passing the ball to each other, for banal and insignificant matters…”

     Concentrating on the news he had just heard, Thre ran his tongue along the end of the hollows on his upper jaw. The places in the groove were still in the stage of complete healing.

     After recovering from the cold, after a few days Thre returned to his daily routine, including work duties. Some time ago, he became the class teacher at the high school where he worked, and he had scheduled the first parents’ meeting for Friday. Before he entered the classroom where the students’ parents had gathered, a mother whose oval face met him undoubtedly reminded him of someone.

     – How small is the world, sir? Now you are my sixteen-year-old boy’s class teacher, and two years ago we both had teeth extracted at the same dental office. The woman spoke freely to Thre, as if it was not a slight acquaintance, but an old friendship that for unknown reasons ended some time ago.

     Looking at her carefully, he remembered of her. It was the woman from Dr. Nee’s office, who was waiting with the same diagnosis as his. He greeted her politely, and together they entered the classroom where there were waiting the rest of the parents.

     During the following days, he often thought about the news he heard on the national TV channel and about the woman he met at school. He wondered if she heard the news or if she had forgotten about that after leaving the office that day. After four full days of his mouth being unable to take in liquids and food, Thre wasn’t even thinking about going to the dentist again. Even he still had a few minor issues that had yet to be resolved. The news he heard on the local TV channel, as well as the woman he met, shook his thoughts. In the following period, in every additional work he started, he made a careful approach to things, and he approached new things with special care and studiousness.

     One evening, returning from a business trip and arriving at the airport at eight o’clock in the afternoon, he decided not to get on the bus number 15, instead he took the first taxi to the center where several of his friends were sitting in a lunch bar on the quay. With a few glasses of whiskey, he relaxed from the hard journey, as well as from the plane ride, which was accompanied by quite strong turbulence. He spent about two hours with the company and there was lots of laughter and relaxed conversations. Later on in the evening, one by one, they left the table, leaving Thre to be the last to arrive as well as the last to leave. Left alone at the table, instead of leaving, he asked the waiter to bring him another glass of whiskey. At one table, in the central part of the restaurant, sat a woman. She was alone, and she didn’t give the impression that she was bored. Thre was taking the last sip of his fourth glass of whiskey when the woman picked up her small purse and stepped toward the exit. He left a few bills on the table and, not waiting for the change, stealthily he followed her step. The woman continued walking and she heading for the last platform, which in the night shadows of the overgrown reeds in the river, gave the impression of a theater stage where all the lights were out and the only sounds that reached the wooden planks, were the lukewarm waves of the great river, which were especially loud in this part of the night. The woman stood on the edge of the platform, reaching with one hand to the blunt wooden slats of the railing and looking down somewhere deep into the dark water with the imaginary intention of touching the bottom, to which there was a sure path of at least four meters. Thre approached her as softly in his step as an ant approaches when it catches a gigantic crumb of bread. The sound of his footsteps was as noiseless as the soundless stomping of the darkest ant in the blackest night. He approached within forty centimeters of hers, when she accidentally turned her face, and almost attacked him with the instinctive several movements of both palms. In that moment she was death from fear.

     – What are you doing? Did you dare to follow me? The astonishment on her face occupied her frontal lines that gathered in a specific convulsion, which in less than a second turned her face into a crumpled sheet of paper, which remained paralyzed in the same form for the next few moments.

     – Obsessed with the following are those people who carry great sins on their souls. Even if he wanted to, he couldn’t hide his half-drunk look because he was convincingly shaking his tongue, especially when saying the last few words.

     – You remember me, right? – Nee stared at him, and in the same moment thinking of catching the free radicals in the air and she could turn into a weightless body, which would fly away easily and quickly through the vibrating air currents of the summer night.

     She didn’t answer.

     – You remember, of course you remember. Two extracted teeth on both sides of the upper jaw, at the same hour and on the same day. And not being able to take in liquids and food for at least four days. What an absurdity that a doctor and a patient faced with, and no one is responsible? With both hands, Thre had grabbed onto the blunt wooden slats from the upper part of the fence, making it impossible for Nee to move her body even through the smallest millimeter.

     She continued to look at him, again not answering him.

     – During this period, you became really famous; you are constantly in the media. I wonder how many patients ended up with the same diagnosis as my lady Nee? People around town are talking about you doing some kind of experiment on your patients’ healthy teeth. What did you do that day, huh? Why did you give the same diagnoses to me and the woman who was waiting with me? Thre had pressed his body so close to hers that the reduced air between him and her face made breathing difficult for both of them.

     – But you are such an attractive woman… – he brought his lips to hers, but at the same moment he pulled his face back a few centimeters.

     – Don’t worry, I don’t intend to open additional problems on my head. And yet I have a special desire to solve one that shows signs of playing mad with the rage in me. He approached her again, leaving no space for her to leave the place by the edge of the fence.

     – You are one of those viruses that are eroding the society. And tonight I can help the society, at the same time helping you too, to bathe your body in a river by filling the lungs with water.

     Nee could already feel her right foot slowly slipping off the edge of the platform, and just as her body could fall down through between the railing and the platform, Thre grabbed her left palm and let her fall on the wooden platform.

     – I will not melt into the dirty cells of your infectious virus.

     The rapid breathing on both seemed to aid in the rocking of the platform, which took the form of a huge moving boat that two passengers had anchored to the shore.

     – A few days ago, I received an invitation to attend as a witness at one of your trials. Unfortunately, we see each other again.

     While voices of various night birds rang out from the other bank of the river several times, one after the other, Thre descended the stairs, striding along the cobbled narrow alley. A few hours after midnight, passers-by stared at the wooden platform, where a woman was still sitting in the corner.

     Over the next few days, Nee took more alprazolams (sedatives) than she thought she would ever take. After sending the little box to the laboratory in California, Nee began a whole new process of self-discovery. The daily new happenings that arose along her way, directly and indirectly related to her life security, as well as to her sense of endurance in the vacuum-enclosed rooms of her own conscience, Nee perceived all of this as the biggest life challenge to solve a self-discovery adrenaline test. Excitement and adrenaline made her think that her previous life in the framework of her monotony, actually until now, only limited her mind, and people with limited minds simply can not do great things. Never in her life she had felt such freedom of mind. The so-called society’s guardians (The police) wanted to lock her in the dungeons where they partly kept the slime, which seemed to work against ethics, morality and set rules and norms. Miraculously, she felt no fear. As a mentally ill patient, doctors prescribed her various diagnoses and even the possibility of suffering from demons. Neesuffered for months from mixed feelings. Her individual experiences of the situation became more and more different from day to day. The changes in her behavior were distinctly noticeable. She expresses her emotions in public. Sitting in a public place, she knew to crying suddenly or to turn a quiet giggle into loud hysterical laughter, which attracted the attention of everyone around. The conclusion was clear: Nee was no longer Nee.

     Thread Slenderwas also witness to the trials. When he entered the courtroom, he immediately took the interrogation seat. From that part of the courtroom, his eyes and Nee’s met smoothly at one point. The woman that everyone in the courtroom was pointing a finger, appeared physically untouched by all the fame and chaos that happened in the past months, although her gaze gave the impression of absence and a maddened daze. During that day’s trial, doctors that working on the case presented several medical diagnoses that Nee suffers from MPD, or multiple personality disorder. After the defense finished with the attached evidences which sounded quite convincing, it was Thre’s turn. His facial expression showed pity and sympathy for the accused. From his courtroom statement, the typist wrote:

     “I, Thread Slender, with a clear conscience and with complete common sense, undertake to tell only the truth and only the truth… I will say this: the extraction of my healthy teeth in the dental office of Dr. Needle Insightful happened only and only at my request. The extraction took place because of a disturbance of the aesthetics of my entire upper jaw, as well as because of an individual intolerance to these two last teeth, which often caused a feeling of pressure on the entire jaw. The accusations that are circulating about my solicitation by the family dentist are absurd and extremely incorrect.”

     After Thre’s statement, the litigation soon ended. Thre wished to get out of the building as soon as possible. He went down the sharp marble steps outside, where the fresh morning air refresh his face. He sat down on a bench in the central park and stimulate his breathing with a few deep and repetitive inhalations and exhalations. When he finally thought he filled his chest with the air he needed, the vibration of his cell phone jolted his body into the first vertical movement from the wooden floor. The mobile displayed a message with considerable content:

     “First, by some coincidence, my name and your show opportunities to cut and sew through life together. Ha ha, funny right? Honestly, I’m laughing too. Besides, I would never have thought that you and I could do something of our own and common, but today’s circumstances in the courtroom showed the opposite. And finally, the holes in your oral cavity will heal completely within two to three months, but the pits that I dug myself, hardly that anything will fill them or turn them into flat surfaces. Your thread is fragile, it cannot sew them. Take up sewing and knitting on new journeys. Do not come to the courtroom again.


     He put the phone back in the left pocket of his jeans, and from the right he took out a small compact mirror whose two plastic miniature wings he had just opened. His face was puffy from fatigue and sleeplessness.


     She opened the two plastic wings of the small mirror and saw her entire personal reflection in the miniature. Her face was puffy from fatigue and sleeplessness. A psychiatrist was also present in the courtroom today, who, referring to his many years of medical experience, claimed that the defendant suffers from multiple personality disorder. In an instant, Neefor the first time felt fear from the surroundings in the room. She thought to herself: “Haven’t these people gone mad? Why are they accusing her?” She was determined after the litigation was over to seek additional legal assistance. The rhythm of her pulse and heart echoed in her ear canals. She opened her purse. The alprazolam (sedative) box was empty. At the farthest point of his own vision, the entire courtroom and the people in it disappear. Nee felt free. She got up from her chair and headed for the exit door. She carried with her an inexplicable feeling of a dreamy fog in which several people rush to arrive with her. The door to the outside was wide open.

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