“It needs to be pulled,” she told me. I frowned, dreading the experience. My sister sent me for some tissues and I envisioned them soaking up liters of blood from my mouth. I closed my eyes and braced myself. I was still waiting for him to pull when I heard my sister say, “I’m done.” I opened my eyes and saw my tooth in her tissue-covered hand. I hadn’t felt anything, and there was just a bit of blood on the tissues. I thought my sister was a magician.
The next day at school I bragged to a friend about my sister’s remarkable feat. When I explained that the process hadn’t hurt, my friend called me a liar. She said that when her tooth was pulled, it had hurt a lot. I talked to my father about this and there was not a single mystery left after my sister’s explanation: my tooth had been ready to be extracted, while my friend’s had not.
“I’m going to be a dentist,” I declared. I wanted to follow in the professional footsteps of my sister and my uncle. My sister supported my ambition, honoring my interest in her profession even when I was young.
I didn’t need to visit my sister’s clinic as a child because I had few cavities. As I entered elementary school and began eating more candy, however, I visited more often. I didn’t mind, though. I was the only kid I knew who was excited about going to the dentist. After my sister worked on my teeth, she let me hang around. I was amazed as she operated complicated machines and leaned over patients’ mouths with a tiny mirror strapped to his head. Once, when my sister was cleaning my mother’s teeth, she even let me suction the saliva from her mouth. That was the first time I saw the inside of a human mouth close-up; I stared, mesmerized, at the structure of my mom’s teeth, paying close attention and dreaming that one day I would see the same image as a dentist.
Years later, the dream of a child has not diminished but