I hate going to the dentist.
Dr. Walters was concerned about my teeth since Scurvy does something. I can’t remember. I was too dazed thinking about how bad this trip to the dentist was going to be.
I turns out Mr. Rivers is a dentist/orthodontist
“Braces,” Mr. Rivers said after the checkup.
“Braces,” I repeated.
“The Scurvy disfigured the inside of your mouth plus you already had an overbite,” Mr. Rivers said. “Look in the mirror, Natalie.”
Ok. My teeth did look bad but there was no way I was letting them put braces on my teeth.
“If it makes you feel any better I’m one of those cool dentist. I believe that you can eat popcorn every once and awhile. I let my patients chew sugar free chewing gum because it helps relieve the soreness that comes with braces,” Mr. Rivers said. “You won’t have to wear them for more than five years I promise.”
“I’ll be going to college in five years,” I said. Mr. Rivers laughed.
“You’ll probably have them off before you go to high school,” Mr. Rivers said. “That is if you take proper care of your teeth and braces.”
“Pick a color,” Mr. Rivers said pulling out a wheel.
“The more you do that the sorer your mouth is going to be,” Momma said. I was looking inside my mouth to see how my new blue braces looked.
“I look like a freak,” I huffed.
“A very cute freak,” Darcy said. I looked at him.
“Wrong thing to say wasn’t it?” Darcy asked. I shook my head yes.
Timmy and Emily walked through the restaurant doors.
“Nobody understands me!” I cried sitting in a booth.
Timmy walked up to me and plopped his retainer out of his mouth.
“Um, Timmy,” Jaci said looking absolutely disgusted.
“It’s a retainer. It helps keep my teeth in place. I had braces,” Timmy said showing Jaci the retainer.
“That’s quite all right,” Jaci said. “Can you please put that back in your mouth?”
Timmy put his retainer back in his mouth. No one spoke for a second.
Then, Abby started to snicker then the entire restaurant started to laugh.
“Jaci,” Timmy said when the laughter died down. “Emily has some questions and well……..”
“I was looking at this Sunday school lesson that Timmy was doing. It said something about this dude named John?” Emily started.
I saw Timmy walk over to Mr. Steve and they walked out of the room.
“The Gospel of John?” Jaci asked.
“Huh? Whatever. Anyway,” Emily started. “It was talking about this guy named Jesus who died for these people that were trying to killing him? Why would he die for these ungrateful and selfish people?” Emily asked.
“Emily Stewart, its love.” Jaci answered.
“Love?” Emily asked. “He must have some pretty strong love for those people.”
“Emily, he made those people,” Jaci said.
“Why in the world would he create people who would betray him? Why would he let the one who would give him to the bad guys carry the money?” Emily asked.
“Come with me,” Jaci said taking her hand and walking up the stairs.
“So Abby,” Aunt Jane said walking up to her. “When’s the wedding?”
Abby laughed and looked at Momma.
“What are you looking at me for?” Momma asked.
“I don’t want our wedding dates to clash,” Abby said.
“I’m getting married this spring,” Momma said.
“Then I’ll get married this summer,” Abby said.
“Then what does that leave me with?” Ms. Erin asked.
“September,” Momma and Abby said unison. We laughed.
I stared at a plastic bag filled with money.
“Um,” I started.
“Don’t worry it’s yours,” Emily said. “Don’t tell Grandfather that I gave it back to you. He told me to steal it without giving me a reason at all so I took it.”
I looked at her.
“Jaci had a long talk with me last night. I realize what I’ve been doing is wrong and I’m going to try to be better so people can now that I’ve accepted Christ,” Emily smiled.
I took the bag.
“There’s a thousand dollars in there,” Emily said. “You should put it in a bank and not leave lying around in a tin can.”
“My father gave me that tin can,” I mumbled starting to walk away.
“I understand,” Emily said touching my arm. She reached into her jeans pocket.
“It’s a letter from my father along with a picture of him and my mother on their wedding day,” Emily said. “I always carry it with me. I’ve never seen my father in person. Only this picture. Its so I can have a piece of him here with me all the time. Do you want to read it?”
“Oh no I couldn’t………….” I started but Emily shoved it in my face.
Dear Emily Elizabeth,
As you probably know I’m in jail right now so I can’t be here with you. I don’t know if you remember but a couple of years ago I tried to take you and your brother after I escaped from jail. Your Grandmother tried to stop me and I assaulted her and I hurt you. It was the second stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
I’ve done bad things and those bad things will reflect on you if you stay in Florida. That’s why I left Florida and went to Nevada where I met your mother. I’ve seen a recent picture of you. You have your mother’s hair and my eyes. You are truly beautiful.
I can’t say that I was ‘in’ love with your mother but I was rather fond of her. Don’t get me wrong. I did not want your mother to die and I did not try to kill her. After the crash I panicked. I assumed everyone would think it wasn’t an accident so I lied. I’ve made a mess of things for you and Timmy. But I want you to know that I love you and Timmy both very much.
I won’t get out of jail until your senior year of high school but I hope one day you will come and see me. Not that I’d ever think your Grandmother would want you to have any communication with me. I’ve changed. Preachers come and visit the jails and they’ve taught me about God. I hope one day to share (or that someone will share it will you and Timmy) the goodness of Christ Jesus and how all past mistakes can be washed away.
Your Loving Father,
Gavin Caleb Stewart
“He got his wish,” Emily said with tears in her eyes. “Nice braces by the way. That’s a very pretty blue.”
She walked away towards Ms. Ross’s class and I walked towards Ms. O’Donnell’s.
“What am I going to wear?”
Mr. Steve had just carried me upstairs and I heard Jaci shouting from Abby’s room.
“What’s going on?” I asked walking into the room. Sean was also there. She was sitting on Abby’s bed.
“Timmy came by after school and asked Jaci out on a date for tomorrow!” Abby said clapping her hands.
“I can’t breathe,” Jaci said breathing in and out. Abby laughed.
“Jaci and Timmy sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G,” Abby sang.
“Why would we be sitting in a tree? And why would we be kissing?” Jaci asked. Abby shook her head.
“It’s a silly elementary school song. It’s what you sang if two people liked each other to tease them,” Abby said.
“It sounds like a cruel song and I’ve only heard the first verse,” Jaci said. “What am I going to wear?”
“Put on your best pair of jeans and your most flattering shirt and you’ll be fine. He’s already in love with you,” Abby shrugged.
“Jeans? What are these jeans you speak off?” Jaci asked.
“You’ve never heard of jeans?” Sean, Abby and I asked.
“MOMMY” Abby screamed running out the door. I wondered who she was screaming for when Momma walked into the room.
“Yes?” Momma asked.
“We have to go shopping,” Abby said. “Jaci has no idea what jeans are.”
“Then we must!” Momma shouted. “What are we waiting for? Jessie-Maria, I’ll call Joan and see if she wants to come along. Oh I should probably call Aunt Jane to see if she and Virginia want to come to the mall.”
Sean nodded and we walked out of Abby’s room.
“I think the third one flatters her hips the best,” Mrs. Rivers said.
“But I don’t want to flatter my ‘hips’,” Jaci said looking disgusted.
“I think if Jaci goes out in the first one Timmy goes to have to beat up somebody,” Aunt Jane joked.
“I agree. I look too worldly in those,” Jaci said.
“I like the red pair,” I spoke up.
“But they’re not really jeans,” Virginia pointed out.
“But they go good with that shirt Abbypicked out for her and they flatter her shape,” I said. “But not like the third one flatters.”
“I agree. I don’t feel totally gross in the red pair,” Jaci said walking back into the dressing room. She came out wearing the red jeans and the shirt Abby picked out.
“I think you look very cute,” Mrs. Rivers said.
“And modest,” Momma added.
“Oh! I forgot to tell you, Natalie,” Jaci said looking at me. “Timmy asked if you and Darcy would come along as our ‘chaperons’.”
“Wait what?” I asked letting my braces show. They broke out laughing.
“My little girls going on a date!” Momma said hugging me.
“Whoa,” I said getting up. “Slow down. It’s not a date.”
“I thought we were over this,” Virginia groaned. The rest of the group laughed again.
“I’m too young to date,” I said. Momma nodded and then squealed.
“Oh what am I going to wear?” I asked giving up.
And we all laughed at that.