I'm eleven. I'm in a semi-reclined chair and a square lamp as big as my head shines into my open mouth. The dentist is prying off a silver cap from one of my front teeth. I'd broken this tooth in a bicycle accident years before, and now the dentist is going to make my tooth look normal again. Nobody is going to call me Mirror Mouth anymore.
The dentist pulls the lamp back a bit and puts a plastic cup over my nose. He says, "Breathe normally through your nose."
I feel like I'm inhaling a cotton candy snow drift. I suddenly can't resist the urge to smile, but the dentist is pulling down on my bottom teeth to keep my mouth open. The radio playing at the receptionist's desk becomes the sound of children playing, and my chair becomes a swing. The high window in the wall opposite me swings away from me and then back again, away, and back. I inhale long and deeply, filling my head with cotton candy snow drift.
Clown musicians playing kazoos parade around me in my chair, at once disappearing at the sound of the dentist saying, "Open," and at once reappearing again. I know it is all just laughing gas, not real. My smile muscles are sore with overuse.
"Okay, all done," the dentist removes the cup from my nose and holds a hand mirror in front of me. "Take a look."
My mirror mouth is gone and all I hear is the radio playing at the receptionist's desk.
I take a deep breath. No more cotton candy snow drift. I feel sleepy.
My mom guides me into the elevator and we go down to the ground floor. I have never noticed before how light my body feels in an elevator going down.