Carpet by Colette McCormick
I stared at the fish swimming around their bulging blue tank and wondered if their teeth ever hurt as well. It felt strange still going to a pediatric dentist but I’ve never been one who enjoyed making changes. Besides, I liked the way their office smelled like my grandmother’s old house. It must’ve been a few months since I’d been to my grandmother’s old house. I think she sold it 4 years ago. I never got to say goodbye to it. Goodbye, house. I’ll always remember your smell. I’ll always remember it as it’s the same smell as this dentist office. Other places smell like it too, like doctor’s offices, therapy offices, elementary school classrooms, banks and libraries. All places that I’ve spent a lot of time in. All places where you might find a fish tank and where they generally like to keep the carpets clean.
I’ve been trying to keep in better touch with my grandparents over the years but it’s been hard because my tooth has been bothering me. My grandmother tried to call me today but I didn’t answer. If I did I would’ve had to say sorry my tooth is bothering me and she would’ve started worrying. I think it’s better to keep people guessing than worrying. She could guess that I’m doing fine, school’s going fine, I’m still only 5’2” and no I haven’t put on any weight. She may even guess that my tooth is bothering me but I doubt it as we arent that close. I haven’t spoken to her in 2 years.
There are many things my grandmother doesn’t know that she could be worrying about. That I’ve recently picked up smoking again is one of these things. I used to smoke until I quit and started smoking again. I’m not addicted now like I was before I quit no matter how hard I try to be. I smoke like I’m addicted though, thinking every time I find myself somewhere without a cigarette is a time where I’ll start to panic and worry again. This is the reason I’m now addicted, which is something I can worry about and leave my grandmother out of. This is also why I don’t go to my grandmother’s house, as I wouldn’t want to taint its smell with cigarettes.
I wondered if the fish remembered what their grandmother’s house smelled like. Probably like clean carpets like mine. I guess if I was really curious I could just go up and ask them but I’m a bit of a shy person. I wasn’t always a shy person but as I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten less confident in myself. When I was 5 years old I used to go up to any old person and start a conversation with them just because I was curious. This used to be fine, as I was a kid and all, but as I got older I was told more of the dangers of going up to any old person and starting a conversation. So I became shy.
Another thing I did as a kid was pretend to smoke pencil grips like cigarettes. I was doing this one day when a girl came up to me and told me if I pretended to smoke now I would end up smoking later. Ya right, bitch, I thought to my 6 year old self. Now it is later and I am smoking and I’m angry that that snarky bitch was right. I wonder if she ever picked up smoking as well. I wonder if she gets cavities all the time and worries about the fish. Probably not. She’s probably calling her grandmother right now, scheduling her next visit to smell her house.