It started slowly and then overtook my quiet moments. Sitting erect around folks who can’t tell how my throbbing nerves force me to calculate the amount of saliva to swallow at a time — I’m calmly gliding through the mind-numbing pain with astute confidence.

The days are have turned me into a pill-popping minstrel as I toss the two white tablets on my tongue and drown them in floods of water that wash them down my throat. I wait patiently to fill some relief and it takes longer each time.

Last night was the worst. I fully intended to have hours of undisturbed sleep and was awakened by the loud drums — ferociously beating me into submission as I quickly reached for my shorts to retrieve the remedy.

Alas! There was only one left and it fell on the ground — willing me to use the dimmed light of my phone to find it. Angered by defeat at 2:21 am — I swallowed my one and only option and settled for a stretch of intense rage from the infection that wanted more than I was able to give.

I was tormented by images of long needles scavenging the left side of my mouth in a game of hide and seek. The tip knew what to find — but it refused to reward me with mercy because of the years of bad behavior that included devouring chocolate chip cookies — after midnight.

Now — I was buried in pillows and the glow of the longest night in memory as the pain subsided for the benefit of another increase that made me cry out in my head. The silence of darkness that won’t devour you whole when you need to escape the prison of your vulnerability is agonizingly human.

The ache in my tooth set the pace of today with righteous indignation as I weathered another tale of popping and swishing. The missing pills were found and when I confessed they were mine — I lied and said I had a headache.

You can’t ever admit that your mouth is fire because it wrecks havoc on your chances of being able to avoid the questions you don’t want to answer and recommendations that you’re already aware of.

Yes. I need to see a dentist. Immediately. Why haven’t I gone yet?

Well — I enjoy the pleasure of watching my rotting tooth connect with the fragile fleshiness of my gums. Feeling every inch of that disharmony vibrate through my body as my ears provide the soundtrack of such fury — and the right notes hit whenever substances enter my mouth and slide into the bloody crash — and collide with fresh victims.

It’s perfection and I wouldn’t change a thing. Except maybe the pain.

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