The rest of the week was mostly lectures, though something felt a bit different. Maybe Dr. Woods had suddenly gotten much more interesting, but for the first time in her education, Sophie wasn't tempted to stare at her phone once in class. She even took notes!
The braces were starting to bother her a bit less. The pain had begun to subside, and she grew accustomed to the odd hum, even if she could still hear it. Part of her wasn't sure why she was so embarrassed at first, the idea of people seeing her smiling with braces was starting to grow on her. Who cares if they stared! They were her favorite color, after all.
Friday finally came. Sophie wasn't sure how she felt as she left class. Her stomach tied up in knots as she drove to the office. Though she felt a little... different than last time. Less fear, and a bit of... anticipation, perhaps? Like the feeling you get on a first date...
She parked her car at the same time as Abby, who waved at her as she stepped out. Sophie sighed, and awkwardly waved back.
"So, how's the braces life treating you so far?" Abby grinned, showing her own cotton candy railroad tracks.
Sophie shrugged. "I'm... not sure yet. Kind of a pain..." She'd been avoiding Abby in class, but now that she was standing in front of her, it was hard to take her eyes off her. The braces seemed to compliment her face perfectly, but even besides that, Abby seemed to have changed a bit.
She was wearing makeup, not just to cover her acne, but seemingly putting in an effort to look a bit more feminine. She clearly didn't have much experience with the application, but it was still an interesting change. She seemed to be standing a bit straighter too, and speaking with a slightly higher pitch. She even painted her nails pink!
"You okay there, Sophie?" Abby asked, smirking.
Sophie blushed and looked away. "Let's just go inside..." She mumbled.
Quinn was once again sitting at the front desk. "Good afternoon, girls!" She grinned, showing off her own pink brackets. "The doctors should be ready for you any moment now..."
Like clockwork, Dr. Whites stepped out of the hallway, escorting out young redhead dressed in lime green scrubs, clutching her jaw and sporting yet another set of pink braces. After sending her on her way, she turned to the girls, gesturing for them to follow her.
Sophie caught herself staring at the doctor's headgear a bit more than she did last week. Obviously, she didn't envy her, but she couldn't help but wonder how it would feel to be forced to wear something like that...
As Dr. Whites lead the pair to the treatment area, she turned around. "Tho, how hath the firtht week been?"
"Fine..." Sophie mumbled.
"Amazing!" Abby exclaimed. "I still can't believe this is happening!"
Dr. Whites smiled. "That'th good to hear. Not many patienth enjoy the exthperienthe at firtht, but everyone geth uthed to them eventually, I promithe."
The trio entered the final door, the girls once again facing the ominous pink chairs, Charlotte giving them a little wave as she polished some instruments. Sophie and Abby each sat down in the same chair as last time, and Charlotte and Dr. Whites began to apply the restraints.
Sophie's heart pounded as she felt Dr. Whites wrap the straps around her body. The doctor was careful but firm, occasionally nudging Sophie in the correct position.
Abby spoke up. "Oh, Dr. W, who was that other woman with the green scrubs? Did she have the same braces as us?"
The doctor smirked at the nickname. "That wath Zoey, she'th a hygienitht at a nearby family dental offithe. They were interethted in our thtudy, and approached uth to offer their thtaff as subjecth. One of the perkth of working in the dental field!"
Sophie watched her mouth move as she spoke. The view was mesmerizing up close, the way her rubber bands stretched in so many peculiar ways, the mysterious glimpses of bits of metal deeper in her mouth, her minty breath practically on Sophie's face... She gripped the armrests, her palms starting to feel sweaty.
The final strap went over her forehead, and the straps tightened, making Sophie wince.
Just as Dr. Whites finished, Dr. Park stepped in the room, giving the girls a smile and a wave. "Hello~!" She said in a singsong voice. "So, how we doing today?"
"Fine..." Sophie replied, while Dr. Park looked down at her, clipping the bib on.
"And how do you feel about the braces so far, Sophie? I noticed you didn't seem too excited last week, has anything changed?" She cocked her head a little, and gave a cute little smirk. For some reason Sophie felt like she didn't want to disappoint her...
"I mean, I don't like them, but they're not quite as bad as I thought they'd be. They look a little cute, I guess..." Sophie mumbled, looking up at the peculiar woman.
Dr. Park smiled, showing her own pink, white, and blue braces. "That's good to hear! I'll be asking you again next week, so let's see if your feelings change any more by then!" She wagged her finger as as she spoke.
She turned around to face the other chair. "And Abby, how are you feeling? Is it just me, or does something seem a little different about you this week?"
Sophie couldn't see Abby, but she sounded a bit embarrassed. "I'm fine, I really love the braces so far! And, erm, I've been trying a new look! I've been looking at makeup tutorials online, but I don't think I'm very good yet..."
"Well, I think you look adorable! I'm sure Sophie could give you some tips!" She clapped her hands. "Now, are we ready to get started?"
Abby replied with an excited "Mm-hm!" while Sophie quietly clenched her sweaty palms.
"Sophie, would you like us to use the gas again?" Dr. Park asked softly.
"Yes please, doctor." Sophie mumbled.
The doctor nodded and stepped out of view, immediately followed by the chair reclining. Sophie squirmed as the straps moved against her body once again. She saw a gloved hand adjust the examination light and flick it on, and heard the clinking of metal instruments.
Dr. Park's masked face entered into view, and Sophie felt the tube be pressed on her nose.
"Now, just close your eyes, and we'll be done before you know it..."
The last thing Sophie felt was the cheek retractor gently be pushed into place.
Her eyes slowly began to flutter open, and Sophie immediately moaned. Her mouth felt even more sore than it did last time, and her lips didn't seem to sit right over her appliances.
She shifted her mouth around, only to find that no matter what, there was always some metal pinched between her lips. Her eyes opened to see a glint of silver just out of the corner of her eye.
This couldn't be happening.
She looked up to see the two doctors looming over her, their masks, hanging under their chins.
"Tho, how do you feel?" Asked Dr. Whites.
Sophie stammered, and looked across the room at Abby, confirming her worst fears.
Abby joined the doctors, smiling as she tapped her new high-pull headgear.
Sophie just squirmed in the chair, before Dr. Park spoke up. "Starting today, you two are encouraged to wear your headgear as often as possible. Within your appliances are devices designed to record wear-time, so we'll be able to check your compliance next week."
She reached down and carefully unclipped the facebow from Sophie's mouth. "I would recommend only removing it for eating, bathing, and playing sports." As it was put back in place, Sophie noticed the hum slightly raise to an irritating buzz, only subsiding when it was fully reattached.
"How long do I have to wear thith?" Sophie choked out, trying to maneuver her speech across the new labyrinth of metal in her mouth.
Dr. Park smiled softly. "Well, it depends on how often you wear it in the coming weeks. If everything goes well... I'd say about a month or two."
Sophie felt like she was melting into the chair as the straps were undone. Dr. Whites helped her to her feet, and began leading her out the office.
Sophie looked up at Abby as they sipped their iced coffee. "How are you enjoying thith?" She was trying to keep her head down, she felt like the whole coffeeshop was stealing quick glances and snickering.
Abby blushed, pinching her facebow. "I'm thorry, it'th hard to exthplain, but this kind of thing hath alwayth been a bit of a fantathy for me..." She paused for a moment. "Now that it'th actually on, it ith a lot bulkier than I imagined, I don't know how I'm going to feel about it going forward, but... it'th really fathinating, don't you think?"
Sophie shrugged, looking at the young woman across from her. Her odd hair, her sloppy makeup, the way the sunlight bounced off her facebow.
Abby took a sip of coffee before speaking again. "I wath thinking, we have the day off on Wednethday, would you want to come over and thtudy? We have that extham coming up after all..."
Sophie felt butterflies in her stomach.