The smell of fur and pet food tickles her nose.
She sits with her legs outstretched, crossed at the ankles, hoping she looks patient and only slightly concerned, rather than bordering on a breakdown.
Her body is tense. Eyes fixed to the floor.
Her four-legged best friend has been with the vet for at least an hour and no one has explained what is happening.
She got a call in the middle of a meeting and had to apologise to her co-workers and clients while switching her phone to silent.
It continued to shake against her stomach throughout the rest of the meeting but there was no way she could even check the number without collecting narrowed eyes and pursed lips from around the table.
Finally after shaking hands and being forced to make small talk about the weather and someone’s football team, she picked up empty coffee cups as an excuse to get away and check her messages.
First there was a call from a man who repeatedly said “sorry” and mentioned something about a car and “out of nowhere” and “Giggles”. It was at that moment when she heard her black and white cat’s name that her breath stopped and her eyes immediately began to water.
There were several more calls after that but no more messages from the man. The voice changed in the next message to a calm and lightly spoken woman who explained that Giggles had been hit by a car and brought into their vet clinic.
The drive seemed twice as long as it should but passed in a blur.
And now here she was, still waiting.
No idea if her best friend was alive.
The wave of black hills glitters in the night as lights turn on and off and residents move throughtout apartments and offices.
A stream of red and white lights flood the highway as brakes are touched or slammed depending on the attention of drivers.
Wellington looks gorgeous tonight, but few are paying attention.
Only the children, bored in the back seats, have noticed that one city light is shining brighter than the others.
Only the children have noticed that the brighter the light grows, the more anger and frustration seems to spread amongst the drivers.
A flash of white.
Barely a second.
But enough time for the children to disappear from car seats and booster seats, blankets and seatbelts, their bags and toys the only reminder that there were once more occupants in the cars.
It takes a few more seconds for anyone to notice there’s anything wrong.
The blinding of the light has the adults blinking rapidly and searching for the source, before turning around to check the kids are still buckled in, only to find there’s no trace of them.
The moon is barely visible amongst streaks of grey but seems extra bright tonight as it fights against the darkness.
A forest scene with a river running through it.
A beach view of some purple plants
Mountains. Lots of mountains.
I try to focus at the images of calendar scenes pasted together above me, while two faces pass in front, using blades, clamps, and what looks like a screwdriver.
The pain is almost unbearable, the two injections into my mouth not helping numb much.
As the clamp is used again it feels like my jaw will break in two.
It’s my dentist versus my tooth, and so far the tooth is winning.
The nurse turned the radio on shortly after work began. It was strangely comforting to hear ads that I recognised while drills that sound like saws screamed inside.
A news report comes on. That means we’re half an hour in.
Katy Perry, All 4 One, possibly some Pink and Bruno Mars… I think there was a Dirty Dancing song in there too. The radio stays light while I try not to move too much.
I notice I’m clasping my hands together. I try to release them but find only minutes later I’m now holding my arms.
Something stabs within my mouth and this time the numbing isn’t enough to stop the climbing pain. I flinch and make some kind of noise.
The dentist keeps telling me I’m doing “really well” and that we’re “almost done”, but he’s been saying it so long that it doesn’t mean anything any more.
He injects me once again. Third time.
I’ve lost count on how many times the drill has started up. I haven’t seen what it looks like, so I can only assume that’s what it is.
Suddenly I’m aware of tears streaking down the side of my face. I’m on my back, so they head directly for my ears and then wet my neck.
The skytower at night.
Kayaks on a beach.
A farming scene with a tractor next to a public road.
My view of another photo above is blocked by the yellow light shining into my mouth so the dentist can once again attack it with what feels like a chisel. He then grabs another tool and twists it at the tooth. The pressure on the tooth is sure to break a bone.
Tells me to take a break.
They change gloves and ask for more tools. I need this to be over with, and although he reassures me that they’re almost there, it doesn’t feel that way.
After a while they’re back into it and again I hear another news report on the radio. I mark it as an hour and a half.
He tells me quarter of the tooth is out and they’re “really close” to getting the rest.
I think through all the worst moments of my life and decide that this one wins.
I live with pain every day but it’s pain I can manage. I have pills and exercises. I know that some pain disappears if I stop moving for a moment or go get something to eat.
This pain keeps on going and not only can I not see the end of it, but I also can’t tell if this is the worst of the day.
Another direct hit on my tooth leads a metal tool to jar against innocent teeth. Again I make a noise and the dentist apologises. I have no idea how many apologies there have been amongst the “you’re doing really well” and promises of the end.
The next time he attacks the tooth, he also attacks the gum, or the side of my mouth or –
It hurts. That’s all I know.
The injections may have numbed an area, but I can’t tell where the pain is coming from, only that it’s there. The dentist injects the area one more time. I count four.
By the time the tooth is finally ripped out my face is covered in blood and melted eyeliner. Red lines mark my face where the tears escaped.
It’s not over.
There are still stitches that need to be done.
By now the first of the injections wears off and I can feel every stab of the needle. Every pull of the thread.
Next time, I’m getting the gas.
The rain hammered on the roof and attempted to sneak through cracks and windows, forgotten and left open.
Giants marched above, rumbling the skies and sending shivers down spines.
Humid only moments before, goosebumps were quickly rising across arms and legs as people reached for jackets, blankets and each other.
The wind roared as it rolled down hills and aimed at homes, shaking trees and pushing against doors. It longed to be let in, to swirl freely inside and scatter all in its path.
Lights flickered across the sky creating a web of gold against grey before falling dark once more.