Someone could come through the door any minute. Lana hoped they would, and prayed they didn’t. Same hair, same eyes. The girl in the chair looked just like Roxanne.

Lana had worked for the Kleinfelds almost ten years. Dr. Kleinfeld—Larry—was a dentist. Sophie, his wife, ran the office. Lana was Dr. Kleinfeld’s assistant. She did cleanings and scraped people’s gums, and such.

Same eyes, same hair. Roxanne was sixteen when Lana was twelve. Their mothers were friends. Or had been, at least.

Sometimes Lana gave patients Novocain. She swabbed their mouths and gave them a shot. Or laughing gas; sometimes she gave them nitrous oxide. To help them relax.

The office was small, but they kept Novocain and nitrous on hand.  Tablets and capsules the sales reps pushed. And Cloripine; Cloripine was an anesthetic. They used it sometimes for oral surgery.

Otherwise Larry—Dr. Kleinfeld—wrote a prescription. Or Lana called something in to the pharmacy. Lana liked working for Dr. Kleinfeld. She liked his wife Sophie. She liked how the office smelled of cloves.

It was sweet, and it made Lana think of when she was little. When she had a toothache. Her mother rubbed oil of cloves on her gums. It came in a tiny brown bottle. When the pain was like fire, the oil of cloves was cool seawater.

Lana dealt with the sales reps who came to the office. She ordered the nitrous. The Novocain. Syringes and gloves. She ordered the Cloripine.  

She gave patients Cloripine before they had surgery. Extractions. Wisdom teeth. Sometimes all four had to come out at once. The patients inhaled Cloripine through a mask, and a machine called a vaporizer mixed it with oxygen.

Same hair, same eyes. Lana remembered. Certain colors and scents brought it all rushing back. They pulled Roxanne from the water that day. She looked peaceful, serene, as if she were sleeping.

Roxanne had been like a sister to Lana. An older sister. Her mother, everyone, that’s what they thought. Dr. Kleinfeld’s voice came from far away. Extraction. Wisdom. Cloripine. Lana?

Two parts Cloripine per hundred parts oxygen. Lana monitored the oxygen tank. Larry or Sophie could come through the door any minute. She hoped they would. She prayed they didn’t.

Her lips were soft. Just like Roxanne’s. They all looked so peaceful, so pretty this way. She was the fire, and they were seawater. It didn’t hurt them. Not really. They were sweet and they tasted like clove bubblegum.

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