Martha or the Awakening of a Neglected Great Lady

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Méline D.

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You can’t see me, but I do exist. I am the back molar. I have been living in John’s mouth for about forty years now. I am the back molar that nobody takes any notice of, that puts up with attacks by sugars and acids, that tries to survive among the mass of food flung down into John’s internal plumbing. Bits of cheese, meat and bread that get stuck between my enamel and Germaine’s (she is my neighbor, the first molar). Detritus that wears us out and debilitates us into silence.

I am Martha, the back molar that people hardly ever brush, that is too often forgotten because it is too far from the corners of the mouth and because the brush is too short to reach it. For years, tartar has been using me as a second home and I have been devastated by the war against caries, pitiless graspers of space and fillings.

I am the back molar that is unwittingly neglected and which is soon going to make its final move. Yes, if things continue like this, I am going to gradually wriggle loose from my host’s jaw.

John is already suffering from severe hypodontia; my departure will not be good news for him.

We already lost Paulette last year, she was the nicest canine round here, and then Maryse a few months ago. Poor Maryse suffered from a dislocated root right up to her last moments. Since then her three colleagues have struggled to do the work of four. If John makes no effort I will be leaving as well, I will go and join Paulette, Maryse, and all the others down the pipes of the family toilets. John no doubt suffers from an attack of daily laziness whenever it is time to brush his teeth. But he forgets that without us, the Black Forest gateau that he loves, and that he leaves under his tongue after Sunday lunch, would not taste nearly as sweet.

I think the time has come to act.

We are not all going to end up, one after the other, kicked out of our gums even though our roots are still well anchored. Even if we have to stage a coup d'état, we are going to remind John that the fact that he has offered us his hospitality for many years does not give him the right to treat us like slaves. This time, he won’t be able to keep us quiet just by sloshing some water round his mouth. We are all going to rebel together. I have spoken to my colleagues about it, and they have accepted my plan. I have even organised them into teams. On the left, Mireille, Jacqueline, Liliane and Patricia are going to cause a raging toothache like people used to have in the 1930s. In the centre, Micheline, Roberte, Marie and Solange, will be responsible for simulating a good old dental fracture with gum damage. Solange will not have much of a problem with that because her condition is getting worse from one day to the next. To tell the truth, we think she is in the terminal phase of a very painful and unfortunately incurable illness. Finally, on the right, Claudine, Germaine and I will have one of the most vital missions: to do everything we can to give John the foulest breath, real pungent dog’s breath. It shouldn’t be too difficult; there are bits of food stuck and encrusted everywhere round here. All we need to do is make up a mixture and let it ferment for an hour or two and the job will be done. John will repel people for miles away!

It is 10.38 pm. Tomorrow, at dawn, I will begin to execute my plan, because I am the back molar that has been ignored once too often.

Translated by Wendy Cross

52

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