When I was sixteen, shortly after I got my license, I drove to myself to the orthodontist’s office for one of my last appointments. Now, my old orthodontist works in an odd shopping center. It looks like it shares an entrance with a bank, but really the entrance is behind the bank, and the turn lane ends after the bank’s entrance. I had gotten into the right hand turn lane and it was just about to dead end before I realized what was going on. I was in rush hour traffic, and had to hang out in the right hand turn lane waiting for someone to let me in. Finally I saw an opening and went for it, but I misjudged the speed of the truck coming towards me. It was a closer call than I was comfortable with, but it wasn’t a bump in, and the truck didn’t have to slam on brakes. No one even honked at me. It really wasn’t a big deal. But, being a new driver I was pretty freaked out. I sat in the parking lot until the time of my appointment and calmed myself down.
I walked in to the building and took my chart to the back, like usual. But it was a little weird. The receptionist, who was usually very friendly, didn’t even acknowledge me. All the lights were off, the only light in the room was coming from the large windows. Thirty minutes passed, and no one said a word. I kept looking at the clock on the wall. Still no one came. I checked my phone again and again to make sure I had gotten the date and time right. I had a really uneasy feeling. There was a nagging thought in the back of my mind, that if I weren’t so creeped out would have been immediately dismissed; am I dead? But no. That was stupid. I wasn’t dead. I was just forty minutes into my orthodontist appointment… Sitting in the dark… In the eerie quiet… Not being acknowledged… After I almost had a car accident…
The longer I sat there the more freaked out I became. I just wanted someone to confirm that I was indeed being stupid, as well as very much alive. I texted my sister. I wanted to say something like text me back so I know I’m not dead (you know, because that’s the test. If you can text people, you aren’t dead), but instead I think I sent her something like, I’m at the orthodontist. It’s been forever, but I’m still waiting. I waited to hear back from her for a while, getting increasingly convinced that I had hit that truck, and was now dead. And not only was I dead, but I would be forced to haunt my orthodontist’s office as a ghost. A place I hated, where I’d be forced to listen to the sound of whiny dentist drills and the condescending hygienist that I really hated. Why not my room? I could haunt my room. My quiet room, filled with my stuff. But no. I got to haunt the orthodontist’s office. I wondered if that’s what Moaning Myrtle felt like after realizing she would live out her afterlife in the bathroom she died in.
About forty five minutes after my appointment one of the hygienists got there and began to check my teeth. The ominous feeling began to dissipate, and now when I have a bad day I can tell myself, at least you aren’t dead and haunting an orthodontist’s office.