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SmokeLong Quarterly

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The Dentist’s Parrot

Story by Ann Hillesland (Read author interview) April 3, 2015

Art by J C Denham

The dentist’s parrot imitates the drill’s buzz, whirring in the back of his throat to startle the patients.

“Open wide! Open wide!” he squawks.

As the patients rinse and spit their lukewarm water, he drinks from his cool metal bowl.

He clicks his beak when new patients come in. Some say hello. “This won’t hurt a bit!” the parrot says, chirping the phrase the dental hygienist taught him as a joke. Sometimes the patients laugh. He likes it when they laugh, opening their mouths so he can see the tender pink tongues.

The parrot imitates the patients’ cotton-muffled words. Only the dentist can understand him.

While shooting x-rays, the doctor puts a lead blanket over the parrot’s cage. The parrot likes the muffled dreaminess—it reminds him of his rainforest home’s heavy air, so different from this air-conditioned chill. He closes his eyes and imagines the thick brown river, the shaggy heads of trees, green imprinting the sky.

Afterwards, the suction machine gurgles and the parrot dreams he is the one leaning over the prone patients, picking at the plaque with his beak. Dreams he has teeth, white and huge. Bends over the patient, opens his beak wide enough to bite the world. “This won’t hurt a bit,” he says.

About the Author

In addition to SmokeLong Quarterly, Ann Hillesland’s work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in many literary journals, including Descant, Fourth Genre, Sou’wester, and Corium. It has been selected for the Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Fictions and presented onstage by Stories On Stage. She is a graduate of the MFA program at Queen’s University of Charlotte.

About the Artist

J C Denham is a teacher, artist, and writer from Canterbury, UK.

This story appeared in Issue Forty-Seven of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Forty-Seven
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