Letting Go, a true story
Chapter One Spring Moments
Chapter Two Fellow men
Chapter Three A Date
Chapter Four Exeter to Newcastle
Chapter Five Princess of Scandinavia
Chapter Six Earache
Chapter Seven Stockholm
Chapter Eight Friends and Family
Chapter Nine Back home in England
It is not going to be easy, but getting obsessed is dangerous. Heather is still in hospital after 15 years. Getting obsessed is easy, not being able to let go, until your mind rules your spirit.
I am a long way from there, but today it got too much. I want it to stop, not get stuck in a daydream where every scene keeps repeating.
Today it is Jasper's birthday, 26, it is four o'clock in the afternoon and everyone will be here by six. The cake is made and the food bought. I'm going to have a quick bath now, and will write more tomorrow, maybe.
I had toothache, and after four days it felt like the beginning of an abscess. The last time I had been to my dentist was more than five years earlier, and he was not there that day. His wife could see me instead. She gave me the injection, her hand was not steady, it didn't hurt, but when she came towards me with the drill I started to panic. She said this was not going to work, I would have to come back and see her husband. I never went back.
So I phoned the surgery, and was told I was no longer registered with them. The receptionist gave me the phone number to a contact service, where they could find an emergency dentist for me.
There the receptionist asked if it hurt, I thought that was sweet. She said I could see Mick, that afternoon at 5.40. I thought, Mick, for some reason that felt nice.
The surgery was on the outskirts of town. On the way there, sitting on a bus, somehow the name Mick made me feel quite calm, it made no sense so I stopped wondering why.
In the waiting room I had to fill in some forms, before I had finished my name was being called. I looked up and this guy stood in the doorway. He surprised me, he looked at me, he had nice smiling eyes. I thought; he is so good-looking. He kept smiling at me, I felt as if he knew me. I thought, are dentists allowed to look at people like that?
We went to go to his surgery. I watched him walk before me, every now and again he turned around, looked at me and smiled. His eyes were grey-brown, clear and warm. He had fine long auburn hair, kept in an untidy ponytail, his dark green shirt was un-ironed and he wore black jeans. He didn't look anything like a dentist to me, more like one of my friends.
Mick asked what sort of pain it was, and I tried to describe the feeling. He smiled and said: ‘right we know what sort of pain it is now.’ He put his finger in my mouth, touched where it ached, and asked if it hurt.
‘It feels tender.’ I felt tender all over.
‘You think I'm going to suddenly do something that is going to hurt, but I'm not. I'm gentle,' he looked into my eyes.
‘There is a small infection on your gum. I will give you some antibiotics.'
I asked him if I could register at the surgery. He told me that I could register with him or one of the other dentists, it didn't matter.
‘I think I want to stay with you.'
Mick went to a desk to write out the prescription. I got off the couch and went to stand next to him. He turned around holding the prescription.
‘I think I could fall in love with you already,' he suddenly said.
My head buzzed, I reached out and nearly touched him. I wanted to say, I think you are really nice too, but said nothing.
He gave the prescription to me, and I stared at it not knowing what to say or do. He told me how many tablets to take and how often.
‘If it is still bothering you in a couple of days give me a ring.'
At last I looked at him.
He laughed. ‘And then I will think of something wonderful. We've got off to a good start, at least.'
He gave my notes to me, to take back to the reception.
‘Make an appointment for a check-up.'
Coming out of the surgery it was after 6.00 p.m. and the late night chemist was in Heavitree next to Rebecca's. I handed in the prescription which would be ready in 15 minutes, and went to see Rebecca. I told her what had happened at the dentist's, she could hardly believe it.
‘He was only joking but it was nice.'
‘Well, don't brush your teeth and eat loads of sweets!'
Three days later it was the Saturday of a Bank holiday weekend, and my tooth was still bothering me. I worried that it might get worse over the long weekend, and decided to phone the surgery. A man answered, I wondered if it was him? I explained who I was, and said the tablets did not seem to be working.
‘You'd better come and see me then. How long will it take you to get here?'
‘About an hour.'
‘OK, I'll see you at three o'clock.'
The surgery was shut and looked deserted, the opening hours written on the front door were between Mondays and Fridays, there was an emergency number to contact at other times. I was confused, he had said three o'clock, but everything was definitely locked up and it was ten minutes to three.
There was a petrol station next door, they probably had a phone. Having walked over, I saw their phone-box only accepted phone cards. I bought a three pound card. An answering machine repeated the opening hours and the emergency number. I tried that number, got cut off, and even more confused.
I walked back to the surgery, no one was there. I began to feel wound up and annoyed. It seemed pointless but I went back to the phone-box, tried again, and got the same response.
I could not understand this, before going to wait at the bus stop to go home, I checked the surgery one more time, still no one there. I gave up.
Sitting at the bus stop I thought, this is mad, we had arranged three o'clock, he had to be there. You don't arrange to see a patient and then not be there. I got up, crossed over the road towards the garage to try the phone again. A man came walking out of the garage towards me, it was him. His clothes looked as if they had been slept in, the same green shirt and black jeans as the other day. Hair fell out of his ponytail, and he hadn't shaved.
‘Is it you who's come to see me?'
‘Was it you who answered the phone?'
He brought out some keys from a pocket and started to unlock the front door of the surgery.
‘Did you phone about an hour ago?'
I realised then that he had come out especially. My tooth did not hurt that bad and I felt a bit guilty. But when he had answered the phone and said that he would see me at three, I had just assumed the surgery was open on Saturdays.
I told him my tooth did not really hurt too bad. We walked to his room, everything was quiet and seemed dark. He turned on a light.
‘Let's have a look then.'
I got up on the couch and he looked in my mouth.
‘It still looks a bit infected. I'll give you these other antibiotics to take as well and that should clear it up. If it still hurts in a week we have to think again.'
‘I don't know where your notes are,' he said, as we walked out of his room and into the waiting room.
‘We'll have to fill in a new form.’
He got the papers from a drawer and sat down at the desk. He asked the questions needed to be ticked off on the form.
‘Is anyone else coming to see you?'
‘No, I just came to see you.'
He had such nice eyes. He winked. I smiled, the atmosphere seemed to lift.
‘Just sign there,' he said, and I did.
Stepping out of the surgery and into the bright sunshine outside, right opposite in the same yard, a woman sat in the front of a parked car, with a small child about three or four years old, in the back. Obviously his girlfriend or wife, and child, I thought. Well, at least I know straight away that he is not free, then I can't start dreaming impossible dreams. It will just be nice to see him.
I would see him again soon, at the ‘check-up', which was next Thursday, only five days away. There were two things I wanted to say to him, first; to thank him for seeing me this Saturday, and also to ask if it had been his child in the car.
Thursday arrived. Sitting on a sofa in one corner of the waiting room, I felt a bit nervous. I wondered how he would be this time. Suddenly he appeared through the door, he had seen me as he walked towards the receptionist sitting behind the desk. He looked a little uncomfortable and did not look over to say hello. I picked up a magazine lying in the windowsill next to me, and started to glance through the pages, while waiting for my turn.
He appeared again in the doorway, calling my name as he looked over. He smiled. It's going to be OK, I thought, and put the magazine back in the window. I got up to follow him through the corridor to his room. He asked how my tooth was, I told him that it was better, but still hurt at times.
Coming into his surgery, I went to sit on the couch, and he sat down on a chair behind. It was a small room, with just enough space for the couch, a couple of chairs and a desk beside the door.
‘Thanks for seeing me the other day.'
‘Was it an emergency number that I called?'
‘I didn't realise someone would come out especially.'
‘That's because I love you,' he looked at me.
I looked at him, not knowing what to say for a second.
‘That's nice,' I then said.
‘Did you have a nice time, the rest of weekend?' he asked, and told me he had been to the beach.
‘Was it your little girl or boy, I saw in the car outside, the other day?'
‘What kind of car?'
I tried to think.
‘What colour was it?' he then asked.
‘Grey, I think.'
He told me that he had a yellow van and a French car, if it had been a French car it would have been his.
‘I've got a little girl.'
So it had been his child.
I fidgeted on the couch, he looked at me questioningly, I said: ‘OK, I'll calm down.'
‘Yes, nothing exciting is going to happen. Well, maybe later, but not here, not at the dentist's.'
I know nothing exciting is going to happen, I thought.
‘We're going to take some X-rays now,' he went to pull the X-ray machine closer to me.
He adjusted the machine, put a small card into my mouth, tilted my head in the direction of the wall, and asked me to try to keep that position still. He walked backwards out into the corridor, holding the X-ray gun in his hand. He held it up and it flashed. He came back, changed the position of the card in my mouth slightly, moved my head a bit more to the right and said: ‘keep still like that.’
I looked at the wall. The gun flashed again.
‘Just one more time now,' he said as he came back.
‘Is that it?' I began to get up, not thinking quite straight.
‘No! I said one more time, you're not listening are you?' he pretended to be annoyed.
‘No,' I agreed.
The last flash was over and he came to take the card out of my mouth. I could feel him looking at me and looked up, straight into his eyes. His face was quite close and his eyes were almost laughing. I smiled, and felt all warm.
He said that was it for now. By next time we should know from the X-rays, what the problem was with the bad tooth. There were also a few more teeth that needed treatment.
‘Make an appointment for half an hour with Mick, and also book time with the hygienist.'
Anette sent an e-mail saying spring certainly had arrived for me. I had written a long letter telling her all about my first two visits to Mick. “Shame he is not free, but enjoy all these flirtatious spring moments,” was her advice.
She had moved back to Sweden, with partner Graham and two daughters, a couple of years ago. I missed our talks.
As I worked at home on the computer in my bedroom upstairs, I listened to songs being played on Virgin radio and thought about Mick.
I was looking forward to seeing him again, but a little nervous of half an hour of treatment. Half an hour is a long time. Apart from the injection and the drilling, there would also be the embarrassment of lying there, mouth wide open, with him doing whatever he had to.
Sitting on the bus on the way to the surgery, I felt cold and my stomach turned. I had cancelled the appointment with the hygienist. The infection and bad tooth still hurt at times, it seemed best to leave that treatment for now. So I would just have half an hour with Mick.
‘Have you been looking forward to this?' Mick asked with a smile, as I got up on the couch.
‘No,’ I replied, ‘this is going to be painful.'
‘I don't like this,' I added.
He turned to look at the lamp above me, and started to adjust the light settings.
‘Well, you don't have to stay. You can just leave, just walk out of here and never to come back,' his voice sounded uninterested.
I don't want walk out of here, never to come back, I thought and felt a bit upset.
As he gave me the injection he asked if it hurt, and it didn't. I glanced into his eyes, they looked friendly.
‘You can go and sit in the waiting room for a few minutes, for the injection to take effect.'
‘Jump off,' he then said suddenly. He sounded impatient.
‘Jump off where?'
‘To the waiting room.'
I could almost hear him thinking: ‘where else?'
This is not going at all well, I thought, as I walked through the corridor. Oh well, at least my teeth are being seen to.
‘Tell me if it hurts,' Mick said as he started drilling.
I concentrated on staring at a spot on the ceiling. After a while he said: ‘that's right, just ignore me then.'
I moved my eyes to look at the ceiling a little closer to his head, and tried to breathe calmly.
Keeping my mouth wide open was getting hard. The drill was noisy, and I tried not to swallow water the dental nurse sprayed into my mouth. I could smell burned tooth. Glancing over at her, she smiled sympathetically. Mick asked if I was OK, and I said yes. Eventually the drilling came to an end. The nurse passed the filling to him, which he pressed tightly into the hole in my tooth with an instrument, and then it was all done.
‘That's you all done. Off you go then.'
He sounded relieved.
‘It might take two months for the tooth to settle down, and it will probably hurt a bit when it gets hot or cold. Make another appointment for half an hour.'
I looked at him, and said bye. He looked at me, but did not say anything, or smile.
My coat and bag lay on the floor, I bent down to pick them up. As I straightened up, and started to turn to open the door behind me, my eyes suddenly looked straight into his. I felt a bright flash. We both smiled and I backed out of the door. Closing the door, with my heart thumping, I went to make the appointment.
Sitting on the bus on the way back into town, I wondered why he had been so different. Almost a bit irritated a couple of times, and wanting me to go quickly. But I kept seeing his eyes, as I had turned to go, and I could still feel that flash. Now I wouldn't see him for nearly a month. Maybe that was just as well, to get a bit of distance.
A week went by, my tooth was aching and felt sore, it wasn't getting any better, I decided to phone Mick. The receptionist answered and said; ‘he is right here,' then told him I was on the phone.
‘What is it about?' she asked me.
I told her that it was either the filling hurting, or the infection had come back.
‘It is still not right,' I heard her tell Mick.
‘He can see you at 3.40 this afternoon.'
I worried in case he thought I had phoned unnecessarily. But as we walked to his room, he told me that he had thought this might happen. The tooth was dead, and it was possible that he would have to redo the filling with a root filling.
Having looked at my tooth, he told me he would give me some more antibiotics. Hopefully the tooth would settle down. He went to sit down at the desk to write out the prescription, while I stayed sitting waiting on the couch.
‘There is a lot of work to be done on your teeth. But that's good, it means we can spend more time together. It's quite romantic. I think I'll wear my little black top next time,' he turned around, looked at me and grinned.
Then he turned back to the desk, and I said: ‘ it's nice.'
‘Your teeth are not in a really bad condition, just worn. That's because you're getting old. You are older than me.'
‘How old are you then?' I asked.
‘I was born in ‘57.'
‘I'm three years older than you,' I said.
He turned to look at me again.
‘Well, what conclusions have you come to at your great age?'
I didn't know what to say, so I said: ‘I don't know.'
‘You don't know! You must know,' he exclaimed.
‘I don't know.'
‘Yes you do, tell me.'
OK then, I thought, what is important to me? After a few seconds of thinking quite hard I told him: ‘try to be happy.’
‘And another?' he asked.
‘Come on now,' he demanded.
I was racking my brain.
‘Don't take things too seriously,' I told him at last.
‘Don't take things too seriously,' he repeated and I said yes.
‘OK, one last one.'
‘Come on, tell me,' he demanded again.
‘I won't let you have this prescription if you don't tell me,' he held it up tight in his hand, and laughed.
‘See what happens,' I then said and looked at him.
Laughing he gave me the prescription.
I held on to it, laughing too, and suddenly noticed the dental nurse, who was standing beside us smiling.
The waiting room was full of people, I waited in a queue to hand my notes back to the reception. Mick suddenly appeared at my side, and said: ‘I've thought of another one.’
He said something into my ear, which I couldn't quite understand, but I said: ‘that's a good one.’
‘It is, isn't it,' he replied as he carried on walking towards the desk. Standing beside the receptionist he started to turn the pages in the appointment book, then he looked up and said to the whole room:
‘We're in love.’
He looked at me. ‘Aren't we?'
All I could see was his eyes.
The person in front of me had gone and I moved up closer to the desk. Mick was looking in the appointment book, ‘you have an appointment on the 10 of June,' he said to me and then gave the book to the receptionist.
‘Yes, to see the hygienist at 4 and Mick at 4.15. Do you want me to write the times down?’
‘No, it's OK, I'll remember.'
I said bye to her, and looked at Mick. His eyes were warm and smiling.
As I walked to the bus stop I felt like I was floating, I had to carry on walking to the next stop before I could stand still, and then my head was still spinning.
On the bus as I calmed down, I thought, he is only having fun, don't take it seriously, and he had said he had a little girl, and he is probably married. I would see him again in just over two weeks. I decided to just enjoy him being my dentist, and not read anything into anything he might say or do.
I wrote to Anette, but I didn't tell her everything that Mick had said. I could not have described the feelings I had felt.
He seemed out of this world to me, a joker who could lift me to another place. High up, out of myself. I had never met any person like him.
It was the 10 of June. The hygienist had worked hard at cleaning my teeth, but I had to come back once more. Now I sat in the waiting room, waiting to see Mick. I felt nervous and my heart was beating fast, I concentrated on breathing slowly.
The room was quiet, with only another couple of people waiting. A phone rang, the receptionist answered. I picked up a magazine, and then he was there. He looked at me and said: ‘Agneta.’
I stood up and walked towards him. His eyes were soft.
I felt almost calm.
We walked to his room, he asked how I was and how was the tooth. I told him the antibiotics must have worked, because it had stopped hurting a week ago.
After he had given the injection to me, and I sat in the waiting room, waiting for it to take effect, I thought, I can't think of anything to say to him. I felt kind of numb all over. Mick came to get me after a few minutes.
‘Does it feel numb?'
He drilled, asking every now and again if I was OK, or that it was not hurting. Otherwise he was quite quiet too, which made me feel more relaxed. I thought, it's OK, there is nothing that needs to be said.
‘That's you all done, little one,' he said, when it was all over.
Now I didn't know when I would see him next. He had told me that first time, when I asked if I could register at the surgery, that he was only there two months at a time, then he was away for a month. As it was coming up for two months since then, I guessed that now he would be away for a month. I would make an appointment to see him when I saw the hygienist. I wondered what he did when he wasn't there.
I had been right, and Mick would be away until the second week of July, the receptionist told me, when I made the next appointment to see him. Which would be on the 14 July. That was the day after my friend Eva would visit him for a check-up.
She didn't like her dentist she had said, when I told her about Mick, after my first visit to him. Well, why don't you change dentists then, and make an appointment to see Mick, I had said, and gave her his name and the phone number to the surgery. So she did. I wondered what she would think of him, and I was a little nervous in case he fell in love with her, but then again he saw hundreds of people all the time that he could fall in love with.
I had told Eva how my first couple of visits to Mick had been, but not the rest. Describing how he had been, and what he had said, to someone who had not met him, would give them the wrong impression I felt.
‘How did it go?' I asked Eva, when I phoned her, after she had been to her appointment.
‘Well, he wasn't anything like how he's been with you. He was just polite and friendly, just like any normal dentist.'
‘Oh good,' I felt relieved. ‘That's OK then, I don't mind sharing him with you now!' I laughed.