A train trip to the city, a visit to the Dental Hospital and ice cream,
One night while I was wriggling like a worm trying to stem the flow but knowing it was coming, sure as daylight, it was coming, something changed in my mouth and suddenly the whole world turned into a giant ache. I pissed the bed hoping the release would ease the pain but that’s only made me cold and achy. Nothing to do but rock back an forth and wait ‘til the morning to see if Mama would know what to do.
The next morning as soon as I heard Mama stir I howled, not caring even if Dada heard. The pain was so great that it didn’t matter; he didn’t matter (perhaps I hoped he’d knock the tooth out).
‘Mama!” I howled. Then louder still, proving beyond doubt that at least part of me was like Dada. ‘MAMA!’
Mama came running into my bedroom and sat upon my bed. One look at I saw her face whiten and I knew it was bad, I knew I was dying. I was going to heaven or hell and wings or fire was waiting and I didn’t know which but I knew for certain I did not want to leaver Mama, unless it meant the end of pain but that’s not what the nuns said.
Dada walked into my bedroom and said, ‘What’s the yellin’ all about? It’s Sunday and I thought I could sleep a bit.’
‘Sleepin’ ‘cos there ain’t any drinking pits open yet,’ Mama replied.
I howled again, the pain so bad I thought I would puke.
‘So what is it, then?’ Dada asked.
‘He’s got a toothache,’ replied Mama.
‘All that noise for a damn toothache, you sure its not all his teeth and maybe a kidney and liver for good measure?’
The rest of the day passed in a fever, me rocking back and forth Mama putting wads of brandy soaked cotton wool into my mouth.
In a few of the still moment when I was able to actually listen to her words, I found out the following day the three of us would travel to the Dental hospital by train and get them to see about my tooth. If the pain hadn’t been so great I was have been whooping (secretly of course, it wad the pain that made me able top holler in the first place) for joy. A train trip and the city - two dreams in one.
I somehow pushed through that day and night, Mama sleeping beside me in the end and carrying me outside when I need to piss, not that it meant I had a dry night, my sheets were soaked by my sweat, still at least sweat doesn’t sink nothing like piss does. I wished Mama could sleep with me every night and carry me outside so my pissing would cease and the rash between my thighs would go away but I knew not to ask. I was never going to convince Dada to let Mama sleep with me and I knew it as one argument that Mama could never win.
The train trip was horrible. Every jutta-jut…jutta-jut of the train was like someone whacking the side of my mouth so the pain just throbbed and banged and kicked and screamed inside my mouth. For the entire journey I sat in Mama’s lap and buried my head into her breasts but even that brought no relief from the pain.
We rushed though the hustling and bustling of the city where people like ants ran about laying trails for others to follow, some scouts and some returners, with or without. The sheer numbers was too much and I just wanted to shut my eyes and close the whole city out, its smells of oil and petrol and people, its noise of whacks and honks and voices and feet and car doors slamming like metal trees in the storm.
In the city though I was handed to Dada and in his arms I at least new I was secure, no amount of scurrying people would prise me outta Dada’s arms. So Dada ran with me jiggling and moaning (I had nop more energy to holler by that point) and Mama hurrying beside Dada taking three steps to his two so every now and then she had to do a little skip to keep beside him and Dada hollering as we went ‘Get outta the way, the boy’s dying!’
Eventually we found the Dental Hospital. I didn’t know how but later Mama told me Dada grew up in the city and new it well. Mama said dada was like that, once he learnt a thing he never forgot it, especially directions and stuff like that.
I remember lying down in the hospital and a nurse was standing beside me in a crisp white uniform and I liked her smile and the blue eyes that shone under the bright long lights. Then a man in a white coat, a dentist, came in and touched me bad tooth and I think I tried to kick him and bite him bit Dada held me still.
‘What is it?’ Mama asked.
‘How much will it cost?’ Dada asked.
‘The boy has a bad tooth that will have to come out. And I think we can cover the cost, but looking at his teeth I think we need to maybe remove several so the new ones can grow into the spaces we will create.’
‘Take ‘em all,’ Dada said, ‘or as many as you want so long as its free.’
Then I was being wheeling along on a bed that flew or was like a train or something and then under lights and a gas thing stuck across my mouth and I was counting back from one hundred…ninety nine…ninety eight…
I had a dream that I was sailing on the ocean aboard that flying bed, beside me was a crocodile who wanted to eat my leg but Mama was also on the bed and so was the nurse in white with the bright blue eyes and blue as the sky above as and every time that crocodile looked at my leg my Mama she just whacked its snout with a large metallic spoon and the funny thing was that in the dream every time she whacked that crocodile I felt it though it didn’t hurt, just somehow shook my brain about in my head.
When I woke there was no pain but the nurse and Mama took me to a shower stall and they held me up while I spat out blood as if I was nothing but a blood machine, galleons of it coming out like milk out of the cow.
Mama soothed me as I stood under the shower and I remember a part of my groggy brain thinking, ‘So that’s how a shower feels, I like it, though without the blood,’ and I wasn’t even embarrassed that I was naked and the nurse was holding me as well as Mama.
Finally the bleeding slowed enough where they could pack my mouth and dry and dress me and send me and Mama and Dada off home with the nurse saying, ‘Just give me ice cream.’
‘Mmmmmm,” I said.
‘What?’ Asked the nurse who couldn’t understand me with all the stuff packed in my swollen, ruined gob, but Mama understood, I could lose my whole mouth and she would still understand me, would Mama.
‘He said he doesn’t know what ice cream is.’
The nurse looked startled then and I wondered just how bad this ice cream stuff must be.
‘We live far from town,’ Mama added but we will get some and take it home with us.’
‘Mmmmmm,’ I said and the nurse looked at Mama.
‘You will love the taste of ice cream,’ Mama said and I was happy.
We went slowly back to the train. The city was quieter ‘cos it was just starting to get dark but Dada found his way after we went to a large shop that had everything in the world inside, or so it seemed it was so large and there Mama told me they got some ice cream for me.
I sat in the train and tried to stay away but after a time my mouth began to really ache and then I fell asleep and I don’t remember anything much until I woke up the next day and my mouth was sore but it was different and not as bad though I felt weaker than hatchling that’s fallen out of the nest and can’t hold its oversized head up, but flops about preparing for death.
Then Mama entered my bedroom with a bowl and in the bowl was a hunk of white stuff. I wondered if that was for making new teeth to replace the ones the dentist had taken out.
‘This is ice cream,’ said Mama, ‘and I am sure you’ll just love it. This is vanilla ice cream and when I was a little girl I loved vanilla ice cream and my Mama used to make it for me but I never learnt how.’
Then Mama started to cry I guess ‘cos she missed the taste of ice cream which made me think it must be good so I sat up in bed and got ready to eat it and then mama fed me, fed me ice cream and no wonder she cried. Ice cream was just the best thing in the entire whole universe, better even than anything I could imagine so from then on I never imagined anything but ice cream.
It took many days for my mouth to get better but the ice cream only lasted two and after that I had stew but only the watery bit of it and I dreamed of ice cream and still dream of it and when I am able I buy it and eat it until I am full and nowadays my best flavour is hazelnut or maybe just chocolate but sometimes I still buy vanilla and it feels like my mouth is getting better all over again.
I think I was about nine when we when to the Dental Hospital and I never saw a train or the city or ice cream again until I was twenty one and dada kicked the ruin carcass of me outta home and told me to crawl under the nearest rock and live or die ‘cos it was no skin off his nose.
It was some days after that that I made it to the city and it was still an amazing place but it was always and ever too loud and there were too many people and the noises and smells and rushing about was all too much for me so I never stayed there for long.