Rowan Brandt had never felt lower than at this particular moment in her life. Her day-to-day life consisted of trudging through the crowds, bypassing people who could care less if she lived or died, and she felt alone. Strange to feel alone while surrounded by people, but the truth was, she'd never really felt anything other than alone.
But this day in particular just happened to be worse than most. Like fate had decided to step in and give her a big kick in the ass.
This morning sucks big time.
Her day had started out well enough with the most fabulous dream. She couldn't remember much about her dream man, but she remembered his deep, penetrating, amber eyes. It was like he'd looked right into her soul with those eyes. He seemed so familiar for some reason--like she knew him. He felt so familiar, so comfortable, she'd instantly relaxed in his presence.
She couldn't remember anything else because just at the moment she thought he would speak--they were rudely separated by the sound of her telephone ringing.
A phone call telling her she was late for her dentist appointment sent her into a panicked frenzy. Twelve minutes later, after getting ready in record time, she was hurrying for her bus.
Running down the five flights of stairs in her apartment building--she could never depend on the outdated elevator actually coming when it was called--she was already out of breath.
Rounding the corner of her building, she realized that someone had cut out a section of the sidewalk ahead of her. Veering off the path, she squished down into the mud lining the side of the pavement. It looked like the landscapers hadn't finished laying the sod yet. Rowan fumed as the black muck oozed around her foot.
When she pulled up her foot, her left shoe remained firmly stuck in the mud. A fitting analogy for her life, but nevertheless, the last thing she needed this morning.
Grabbing the shoe, she quickly hopped back over to the sidewalk, managing to put on the mud-caked remains before continuing toward the bus stop a block over.
By the time Rowan was nearing the stop she could see her bus just coming up the road. Fearing that he'd go right past her, she began running to get to the stop in time.
Huffing, she frantically waved him down, gasping for breath as the bus pulled to a noisy stop beside her. Flashing her bus pass at the bored driver she began moving to the back of the bus.
Plopping down beside an older woman Rowan tried to calm her breathing, attempting to take in slower breaths. Holding her large bag on her lap, she leaned her head back and closed her eyes.
"You know, if you lost just a little weight, you wouldn't have trouble breathing, dear."
Her eyes popped open at the words coming from the woman beside her. Smiling tightly, Rowan did her good deed for the day and neglected to tell the woman to shut up and mind her own business.
Twenty minutes later, and exactly forty-two minutes late for her appointment, she entered the dentist's office.
"You're lucky we aren't going to charge you for your missed appointment."
"I'm so sorry, I don't know what happened. I know I set my alarm, so I'm no--"
"Right, I'm sure you did," the woman at the front desk said, interrupting her apology. "Please sit down and we'll get to you when we have an opening. It may take some time," she said with no apology and a hint of impatience in her voice.
"I'm sorry, I understand completely." Rowan apologized to the back of the woman's head after being summarily dismissed.
God, what a wonderful way to start a Monday. I can't believe I overslept again.
Looking down, she realized her dress shirt wasn't quite tucked into her pants. Glancing at her feet, she realized her socks were different colors. And yes, I'm wearing two different colored trouser socks. Fantastic, could this day possibly get any worse?
Resigned to waiting, she was pleasantly surprised when her name was called and she was brought into the back of the office. Directed to sit in a chair, Rowan leaned back as the hygienist applied the topical anesthetic to her gums, chatting about nothing.
Rowan nodded at all the appropriate times. It was pretty hard to answer back when she had a Q-tip stuck in her mouth.
"Would you like to watch a movie?"
Rowan nodded and was promptly handed a set of earphones and a remote. Flicking through the channels, she found a movie that she wanted to watch and settled down to lose herself in it.
"Ummm, I'm sorry but I can't hear anything," Rowan said around the Q-tip.
"Oh, the earphones aren't working?" the hygienist asked.
"I don't think so. I've tried to increase the volume on the set but it won't work."
"Well, it looks like you might not be watching that movie. Let me see if there's something I can fix."
Rowan sighed. How typical.
"Hello, Rowan. How are we this morning?" Her dentist came into the little room followed by his overly cheerful greeting.
"I bet you'll feel better once I get these fillings done. Of course, we wouldn't be here if we'd been flossing, now would we?"
"Sorry," Rowan mumbled. No, we wouldn't be here if we had a choice.
"Okay, let's see what we have here. Open up."
Out of the corner of her eye, Rowan could see him gather his needle. Although, she couldn't feel anything when he placed it against her gums and began to insert the anesthesia.
Closing her eyes, she tried to find her center, to take herself somewhere else. She slowly started to relax, breathing deeply, imagining her body sinking into the chair under her. With every inhale and exhale, she concentrated on letting her muscles release. Starting with her toes, and moving up her body until she was completely loose.
"How is that numbing coming along? Can you feel that?"
Rowan shook her head to let him know she couldn't feel her lip anymore.
"All right, I think it's fine to start."
Over the sound of the drill, she could make out the dentist and hygienist talking about their weekends. She winced when he started to drill into her tooth, feeling the rush of cold hit her exposed nerves. Jerking her head back with a grimace of pain, she tried to signal to the dentist that it hurt.
"Oh, looks like we aren't numb enough. Hold on a minute, Rowan."
Rowan sighed as the dentist pulled back to get out his needle again. At this rate, she wouldn't be able to feel her face if he numbed her tooth any more.
A few minutes later, after the corner of her left eye went completely numb, the dentist returned to his drilling.