Author Topic: story - F means headgear  (Read 4055 times)

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #15 on: 09. June 2022, 17:09:17 PM »
Chapter 12/13

"Let me finish my thought," the father asks. "When you start your treatment, you will get braces ... so far so good. You remember: Dr. Coleman had shown us different types of braces that you could choose between." Rosa nods.

In fact, the orthodontist had presented several treatment devices. He had said from the start that he was only mentioning Invisalign for the sake of completeness, because those would absolutely be not enough to correct Rosalynns misalignment. She needed braces - the permanent glued-on kind - no-ifs-and-buts. But even then, there were several different systems that differed in their "conspicuousness" but also in price. But unfortunately, the two values run in opposite directions: the cheaper, the more noticeable.

At the upper end of the spectrum would be lingual braces that can't be seen "from the outside", but which are forbiddingly expensive. Then there would be inconspicuous braces with brackets made of ceramic or plastic. Then self-ligating braces. They are already made of metal, but smaller than the conventional braces and therefore a little less visible. And then, at the bottom end, the "normal" metal braces.

But unfortunately, that would not be enough; the misalignments are too severe. As uncomfortable as this is going to be for his future patient, she definitely needs another treatment device, Dr. Coleman made quite clear.

"Again, Dr. Coleman gave us two alternatives, didn't he?" One possibility is much less common in the US than in Europe, after all this treatment device was invented in Germany ... A device with the name of "SUS" would be able to move the teeth appropriately so that the relation of the jaws to each other would improve.

Comment: I don't know if a SUS is really capable of doing this. Creative freedom!

In short: with the SUS device in combination with braces, her misalignment could be corrected. And because it is IN the mouth, while still not being completely invisible, it would have had much less of an "impact" than the other alternative - the tried and tested headgear. Unfortunately, the trouble with the SUS is that it is much more complex to manufacture and install. Facebows and neckpads are a-dime-a-dozen, but the SUS has to be individually manufactured by a dental laboratory. And that doesn't come cheap ...

"We were ready to pay you the inconspicuous braces and this 'alternative' thing if you get a good grade ...", continues the father, "exactly as you wanted it. Just as we were ready to give you an 'expensive' reward for the other three exams."

"And just like the other three exams, we had agreed that we wouldn't pay you anything if you get an 'F'. That was our deal, remember? "

Rosa nods, her lips pressed together. She believes to understand where her father is leading her. And she has the inkling that she won't like it there.

"Well ...", the father lifts his index finger: "You will get your treatment, that is out of the question. After all, you should have straight teeth. That is just as important to us as it is to you! We want you to be happy too ... "

"The only question that still arises is: what type of braces will you get? And, Rosa ... you were willing to use that as your stake for your reward. The better the grade, the more inconspicuous - and more expensive."

Rosa nods almost pitifully. She knows all that, her father needn't have reminded her ... she just hoped that maybe she could change something ...

"Now you got an 'F' because of your blackout. That didn't work out too well, I'll admit that. YOU didn't expect that and neither did WE ... But after what you told us yesterday, you managed to come to terms with it... "

Rosa doesn't nod. She doesn't want to admit in front of her parents that she - at least to some degree - has to agree with Mr. Klyne by now. As stupid as that is, as much as she would have liked to have had a better grade: There is nothing more to do about the 'F' ... As much as she wanted to repeat the test, it will just not happen.

But if she admitted that, it would reduce her chances of somehow getting out of this tricky situation. However, her father seems to correctly interpret his daughter's apathy:

"You getting an 'F' means that we are not spending any money. We wouldn't go on holiday; you wouldn't get your game console... "

"We will pay for your treatment, that is out of question. But in this case, the 'F' means, that we will not be spending any ADDITIONAL money. You will have to make do with what is the cheapest option for Dr. Coleman. And that is not the inconspicuous braces with plastic brackets. And that is not a bespoke device, but the headgear."

But her father is not finished yet: "I want to come back to what you said earlier: If you had known that you might fail, you would have wanted to set the reward so that you wouldn't get headgear.... I think you can see now why we would not have allowed that:"

"You need such a 'special' brace - and because of that you shall get it. Not wearing this brace would after all mean only doing half the job. And you don't want that yourself! That's why we wouldn't have let you forego it. Not because we want to annoy you, but because you need this brace..."

"Besides ..." The father allows himself to grin: "May I remind you of what you said when we suggested those options to you?"

Rosalynn presses her lips together. She remembers. OH YES, she remembers well: She had laughed! She had sneered and laughed and had already been looking forward to these inconspicuous braces.

It was clear to her that at worst she would get a 'C'. And that only if she had been particularly dense that day. She always expected a 'B' or maybe even better in the oral exam. She was interested in geography enough that she didn't have to worry about "failing".

So she had been expecting plastic braces. It didn't even have to be the lingual stuff; the brackets made of plastic would have been "plenty good enough" for her. Well ... actually the inconspicuous plastic brackets weren't even her main concern:

Rather, she had arranged with her parents that they would pay for the inconspicuous alternative to headgear as long as Rosa didn't bring home an 'F'. In other words: Even with a 'D', if she would only get the "normal" metal braces, the parents would still have paid the surcharge for the SUS.

And because she had firmly expected that even in the worst case scenario, she would still get a 'C', she had hardly thought about what could happen to her with an 'F'. Why should she? So she was completely sure to be rid of the stupid headgear. With this certainty in mind, she had said lightly:

"Headgear? You can forget about that. Won't happen. Never ever ever! I won't get an 'F' ..." Then she laughed: "But if I really should be that stupid and bring home an 'F' ... well, that would serve me right ... " She smiles a very wide smile: "'F means headgear?' OK, I'm down for it!"

Those were her words that she now remembers with horror. "I see you still remember," smiles the father.

"But ... but what if I CANNOT get used to the headgear?"

"Let's not speak of the devil ..." demands the father.

The mother is of the same opinion: "We cannot assess NOW how you will fare with your headgear later if you do not have to wear it yet ... We'll have to wait until you actually have got braces. THEN the rest follows, OK? "

Rosa nods silently.

"Oh honey, we're not doing this to punish you ...", the mother reaches out to her daughter and gently touches her knee. "It's not like we're DEMANDING that you wear extra severe braces because you didn't do well in the test ... Do you really think so?"

Rosa hastily shakes her head. "No ... no, I don't think so. Absolutely not ..." She really hadn't meant to imply that her parents wanted to punish her for her failure. Because she knows herself that this is not true. Her parents have no clue, what terrible things they demand of her daughter, but no... they don't want to punisher her!

"If it really doesn't work out ... if you really can't get used to your headgear ... then that's another matter. Then ... well, then we would have to find a way around it. But ..." the mother sounds resolute: "To say after ONE week: 'I can't', that doesn't work! You have to give it a fighting chance!"

"And if I ... if I clear out my piggy bank and ... and pay the surcharge for the ... the alternative myself?"

The parents shake their heads. "A deal is a deal". Not to mention the fact that all three know that Rosa's current cash-stash is not even remotely worth mentioning.

"And ... and if ... if I ...", one last attempt, one last defiant struggle.

The father gives her time to find an answer. A few seconds pass in which the girl fiddles with her cell phone and fails to look at her parents.

"If you ... what?"

A long sigh: "I don't know either ..."

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #16 on: 10. June 2022, 16:27:59 PM »
Chapter 13/13

"Look here, honey", the mother moves a little closer to her daughter: "Don't you think that it would be unfair if you threw everything overboard again just because you don't like the result?"

Rosa shrugs her shoulders. She can see some of the arguments: If they had agreed on something, then they should stick to it, and so on. And if they have agreed not to exchange rewards ... then oh well ... then she has to stick to it ...

But, on the other hand: She herself would be willing to forego some of her gifts if this could fix the "headgear issue". Or ... to put it another way: Her parents have just stated that she wouldn't get the less conspicuous braces because of the money involved.

Fine, she understands that: They had agreed that with an 'F' there was no money for inconspicuous braces to be had. OK, if her parents insist on that, it's fair ... not nice, but fair!

BUT: Why can't she just "convert" one of the gifts? Why can't they just say: "We won't go shopping, but we pay the extra charge for the SUS instead"? Why don't her parents want to agree?

In fact, she had suggested giving up ALL gifts. That would save her parents a LOT of money. The SUS can't be THAT expensive ...

Or ... she was even willing to pay for part of the treatment out of her own pocket ...

Just to say: "A deal is a deal", that's not fair!

"I think that's unfair towards us if you argue like that"

The girl looks up in surprise: "Why?" She would even save her parents money and yet that is supposed to be unfair?

"I understand that you would like to change something now...", the mother begins. "But after the other three tests ... why didn't you have the same thoughts? You wanted to swap rewards, but you never thought of giving up your Playstation for us to fly to France instead for example. Why not?"

She doesn't wait for the daughter's answer, which might never have come, but continues: "Because you liked the result. The grade was good - or at least good enough - and you were happy about the gift you'll receive ... "

"But have you ever thought about what that means for US? Don't hold it against me, but I don't think that you have spend too much thought on how expensive your wishes could be."

"The Playstation, the shopping spree, the trip to Death Valley ... each of those will cost us a few hundred dollars! The trip to France would have been much more expensive! But your dad and I were ready to pay for your vacation. And for the Playstation. And for the shopping spree. And for the inconspicuous braces."

Rosa's mouth opens to reply, but nothing comes out. When she closes her mouth again, she feels a lump in her throat.

The mother laughs slightly: "You don't have to be afraid that you would have thrown us into ruin. We have enough money for it. Otherwise we wouldn't have been able to pay your university..."

"And we're happy to give you those things too. We're happy with you that you can go to Bedford. Besides ... part of it is your birthday present ... Anyway: That still is a lot of money that we can't just pay from petty-cash ... We're not THAT rich!"

"And yet we were happy to do it. Without complaining and without wanting to change anything, because it might be too expensive for us. Be honest with yourself: What would you have said if you had proudly come home with an 'A' in your pocket and then we would have told you: 'No, we won't do it after all, you won't get your Playstation. It is too expensive for us after all'. How would you have reacted?"

The lump in her throat is getting bigger, Rosa presses her lips together. She really wants to cover her ears too by now.

"You know, darling, if WE keep OUR part: If we are ready to take such a lot of money into our hands for you, don't you also think, that we in return have the right to expect YOU to do YOUR part?"

"Yes, it would be cheaper for us if you would suddenly forgo your presents. But that's beside the point, honey! Do you feel that you are really being treated unfairly when we ask you to stick to the rules that we ALL agreed on? That you honor the agreement the same way we do?"

Rosa blinks quickly. No, she doesn't want to start crying again now. She drives the rising wetness out of her eyes.

That ... that was mean. Her mother really hit her right on the head with the big moral club. Couldn't she have phrased it differently? Less accusatory?

But ... that wouldn't have changed the statement itself: Rosalynn had accepted the gifts really quickly. Of course, she had thanked her parents for that. And she was genuinely happy about it.

But ... she hadn't thought about it much either. Why should she? They had agreed: the parents were willing to pay for the presents. Why should she still think about it a lot after that?

Admittedly, it is actually not the children's duty to agonize over such things. After all, it is the parents' "job" to look after their children. Worrying about financial matters beyond their own pocket money shouldn't be something that the children should be burdened with.

At least, as long as the children don't "demand" four expensive presents!

But the girl hadn't thought at all about what she is asking of her parents when she had imagined what she could wish for: She had instead discussed with her parents which tablet she's allowed to choose in addition to her Playstation. After all, Rosa had her eye on a quite expensive iPad. And she had already planned the route through the city center that she wanted to take for the shopping spree.

All of this without thinking about how much it costs exactly or how long her parents would have to work for it.

Mind you: her mother started it all by inviting her to go shopping. So it's not like Rosa had to wrangle everything out of her parents' pockets. But she had "diligently" tried to argue why it would be nice to have a separate reward for each of the four exams.

"I see you understand what I mean," the mother says. She's not angry, grumpy or disappointed. Instead, friendly, loving and compassionate. But also adamant.

A hard laugh from Rosa's throat: "You know, mom, Mr. Klyne also said that the very same thing yesterday: He mustn't give me a better grade because that wouldn't be fair to the others ... And now you come up with that too ..." A long sigh.

Her elbows on her knees and her head hidden in her hands. She was sitting in a similar pose just yesterday at noon. The only difference is that NOW things are not that bad for her. NOW it's not her entire "school career" that's at risk, but it is "only" a question of whether she's able to put up with a stupid headgear.

Not that she really has any choice left.

There it is again, that strange gut-feeling: that strange pressure in the stomach area; as if she was about to get sick without it ever really getting that far.

The same feeling she had yesterday when she talked to Mr. Klyne: When Rosa understood, she wasn't going to get a second chance; that she is not allowed to repeat the test.

This is exactly how she feels again now: the feeling of having understood that the chance to turn things around has passed. That there NEVER was a chance to turn things around, to begin with. That the only way out is to accept, what's waiting for you.

And worst of all: The feeling of having understood that her own arguments are not worth much and that the others are right.

But she still has ONE last "hope": Even if she was not allowed to repeat the UPT, she still met the entry requirements for the university of her choice. So in the end it wasn't as bad as initially feared.

Maybe - hopefully - that also holds true to her braces situation? Maybe she doesn't have to wear headgear that long? Maybe her mother is right and headgear isn't THAT bad as she imagines it to be right now?

Rosa's head rises, a resigned smile on her face: "I won't get out of headgear anymore, will I?"

She doesn't have to wait for her parents to shake their heads to know the answer. Rosa sighs:

"F means headgear!"


This is the original ending. Some time later I got carried away to write a 3-chapter sequel. Since I don't particularly like the sequel however, for me personally the story ends right here.

I will publish the sequel regardless; but I would be very interested in your opinion, whether the sequel was worth posting

Offline Blockbraced

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #17 on: 11. June 2022, 16:06:22 PM »
Thanks for sharing the story! It was really well written, and well worth the read.

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #18 on: 11. June 2022, 19:23:39 PM »
Part 3 - A look into the future

Chapter 14/16

On Monday afternoon, Rosa gets her report card at school. Mr. Klyne had promised her, but seeing it in black and white on her report card is another matter: the 'A' in history brings a broad - and extremely relieved - grin to her face. Even though there was no doubt about it, now it's official: she has passed the entrance requirements.

At the same time, she also receives the UPT grade summary and, to her astonishment, an already filled out application form, which she needs to be accepted at Bedford. With the 81% she has achieved, this "application" is only a formality; nevertheless, the documents must be sent off without much delay.

A few days later, the hoped-for reply from Bedford arrives. Rosa had almost driven herself crazy in her worry that she might not be accepted after all, despite having overcome the hurdle. Maybe Bedford doesn't accept students who failed a part of the UPT after all? Or so many people applied this year that the cut-off had been raised to 85%? Or maybe... But her worries were unfounded: Her application was accepted, she was enrolled at the university for the coming school year.

Her timetable for the coming semester and a list of "voluntary" additional courses that she can take are also included. She is however asked to make a decision as soon as possible, because some courses are very popular.

Some of them sound very interesting, and she is particularly taken with a course on American history. She can only hope that it will not be fully booked before her documents arrive back at Bedford.

A few days later, she gets the answer she had hoped for: she can take "American History" and almost all the other she had registered for. Only one art course was already fully booked... but that's OK.

Only she can't really be happy about it on that day. There is something that puts a damper on her joy: Unfortunately, the documents from Bedford arrive on the same day that she has an appointment with Dr. Coleman. Her parents had acted quickly and made an appointment with the orthodontist before their daughter could possibly change her mind and withdraw her consent.

Of course, this does not mean that Rosa is now already sporting braces and headgear. It doesn't happen THAT quickly. This was just an appointment to make some preparations and discuss final things. In other words: Rosa still has a reprieve, but she can't really be happy about it.

Because this reprieve will only last three weeks. Dr Coleman thought it advisable to start the treatment as soon as possible. The fact that it happened so quickly had also surprised the parents. But why not? After all, their daughter herself had given consent to start treatment.

To make it quite clear: Rosa has absolutely no problem getting braces. Why should she? Almost everyone in her class has - or had (in Amy's case) - braces. There is nothing special about THAT!

Sadly, however, Dr. Coleman had again emphatically confirmed that she absolutely needed headgear. Unless she opted for its more expensive alternative. And the parents had made it clear once again that they would stick to the agreement they had made and would therefore NOT pay the extra costs of the SUS.

Rosa had felt like making an agreement with the orthodontist behind her parents' backs that she would pay for the extra costs of the SUS herself. But a look in her piggy bank had put an end to that very quickly. Apart from cobwebs, there wasn't much in it. And Dr. Coleman certainly would not agree to 5-dollars-per-month installments.

A week later, mother and daughter go shopping together in the city centre. The father had asked to be allowed to stay at home. He would have loved to take his daughter to the nearest hardware store.... but he wouldn't be able to stand having to traipse through clothing shops for hours on end. Laughing, his two ladies left on their own. And returned after an astonishingly short time:

In a small shop, Rosa stumbled across a "collection" that she absolutely adored. As soon as she saw those clothes, she was blown away and knew what she wanted to have. These clothes also appealed to her mother.

The only trouble is that this collection is more expensive than a simple shirt from H&M. Not forbiddingly expensive, but nevertheless expensive enough that the mother has to issue a "warning": she would love to fulfil her daughter's wish, but Rosa has to understand that this would deplete the budget much faster. That was fine with the teenager. As long as she could get what she fell in love with in the changing room, she couldn't care less if her shopping trip begins and ends in that very shop.

And so the two ladies return back home sooner than expected. "But you know, mum, I'm glad that I really had planned the shopping trip weeks ago. Otherwise I don't think we would have ever gone there."

The mother nods. She had been surprised to be led by her daughter to this small - quite out of the way - shop. But it had been worth it and that is the main thing.

Two weeks later, the reprieve is finally over and Rosa is getting braces: Braces and headgear in one fell swoop. Normally, he wouldn't start her with headgear at the same appointment as the braces, Dr. Coleman explains. But because Rosalynn started her treatment relatively late anyway, and the start of treatment had been delayed for a year on top of that, he decided to go ahead with it this time.

And now Rosa is sitting in the living room with her parents, looking dejected and having to try to get used to her new "accessories". Not only does it feel like the sharp-edged brackets are cutting her lips into shreds. The annoying metal bow she can see out of the corner of her eye also seems to want to rip out her molars with every little movement of her head. And on top of that she believes to get a headache from the pressure on her neck.

And Dr. Coleman had indicated that the pain and so on would get worse in the first few days, before everything would take a turn for the better.

Her parents have a lot of sympathy for their offspring, but make it clear once again that Rosa has to give the whole thing a "fighting chance" before she is allowed to talk about how much she hates her new braces.

Over this, a week passes by.

Rosa is really relieved about how "forgiving" her mother is. Among other things, Dr. Coleman had indicated that it would be important for Rosa to get used to sleeping with the headgear as soon as possible. That would be really important in order to be able to keep to the wearing schedule.

In the first night Rosa sighs: "Let's see how the night will be with this thing...", then she turns out the light. At least the holidays have started. It's not like she would have to get up refreshed tomorrow morning to be able to endure a long exhausting day at school.

And yet Rosa had trouble sleeping. Even more problems than she herself had feared. The metal bow was somehow always in the way. No matter how she had scrunched up her pillows, the inner bow had always pulled painfully at her teeth or the outer bow pressed itself uncomfortably into her cheek. In the middle of the night, desperate - and close to tears - she had finally taken off her headgear.

The next morning, she had lamented to her mother. She had half expected her parents to side with the orthodontist. But instead her mother had said: "I would have been very surprised if it had worked right away. I remember: It wasn't easy for me back then either! It took me a few days to get used to the bow, too."

"I can certainly understand why Dr. Coleman wants you to sleep with the brace. But I also think he's making it a bit very easy for himself when he says so succinctly that you should get used to it 'as soon as possible'."

She takes her dejected - and overtired - daughter in her arms, "Don't take it to heart. Just try again tonight. And if it doesn't work, just take the brace out again. There's absolutely no point in driving yourself crazy! You'll only make life more difficult for yourself. OK?"

Rosa nods gratefully and relieved. She hates this strangely bent piece of metal wire. And if her parents insist that she should wear it, it is good to know that she can at least count on sympathy and consideration. That she will not be urged on, but allowed to get used to the annoying treatment device at her own pace.

So a second week passes.

She meets regularly with LaToya and Amy. And Mike, too. In a few weeks they will go their separate ways after all. Rosalynn, LaToya, Amy, Mike: four friends, four different paths. And the four of them don't hold much hope. Even though they had done quite a lot together in high school, it is clear that their friendship is not so deep that it could survive a permanent separation. The four of them might see each other a few more times and then go their separate ways. It's a pity... but that is the way of life.

Maybe that's where it comes from: Maybe it's some kind of bizarre farewell present... or maybe she wants one last encouragement from the people she calls her friends. Who knows! In any case, Rosa "confesses" one day, while strolling through the city centre with LaToya and Amy and eating an ice cream, that she has been among the bridle-wearers for a few days now.

The only trouble is that her friends don't understand what Rosa is trying to tell them and instead think that she has started horseback-riding. And so they are surprised that the girl next to them starts laughing hysterically. Only after she had calmed down again - and the ice cream cone had been eaten - does Rosa clear up the misunderstanding: With her head beet-red, she pulls the flat bag out of her backpack and shows her friends the headgear.

But as much as LaToya and Amy tease and encourage their friend, Rosa absolutely cannot be persuaded to put on her headgear. Not even for a brief moment. "Are you crazy? We're in the middle of the city centre here! Thousands of people around us! I'd die!"

This is surely an exaggeration, but the two girls certainly understand why their friend does not want to walk through the crowd with a glinting silver metal bow.

A few days later, however, they should get a "chance" to poke good-natured fun at their friend. For Rosa has invited the two of them - and Mike - to her home. The holidays will soon be over and this might be the last time they see each other in the next few years...

And yet the three waiting outside the door are surprised when Rosa opens the door. She looks the same as always - almost, at least. Only the metal bow in front of her mouth ruins this impression. Mike in particular, who knew nothing about the headgear until now, is wide-eyed. "But I'm only doing it because it's YOU. Don't think I would have left my room with that thing if someone else had been at the door!"

There are three major topics of conversation between the friends that day:

First, the past three years, how they had met at the beginning of High School and what they had experienced during that time.

Secondly, what the following years might bring: what their hopes and their plans are. LaToya wants to study and become a barrister. Mike wants to join his father's business as soon as possible. Amy wants to take some "time out" first and do "something social" during that time. And then maybe starting writing? And Rosa has no idea what she wants to do yet. Apart from going to Bedford that is.

And of course - how could it be otherwise - thirdly: Rosa's headgear. She has to tell how she got it, how long she has had to wear it, how she has gotten used to it in the meantime and lots of other things. And she also has to come to terms with repeatedly becoming the target of good-natured ridicule from her friends.

In the end, she wears the metal bow for just under two hours, until her father calls out that the barbecue is ready. After dinner, she waves it off: "I don't feel like putting it back in now. It's enough if I wear the stupid thing again tonight!"

She also learns that LaToya almost had to wear an "extraoral brace" of some sort as well. But that her orthodontist had then chosen a way around it. "Bah, I'm so jealous," is Rosa's response.

Saying goodbye on this day is not easy for all four of them.

Some more weeks pass.

To say that it has become "natural and a matter of course" over the weeks is a far exaggeration, but Rosa now wears her headgear in the evenings without grumbling. And she has also learned to sleep with it.

A few days ago, her mother had started to very gently admonish her daughter not to wait to put on her headgear until after dinner. Now that she has been wearing her braces for a few weeks, she is - at least according to her mother - ready to be gently reminded of that.

To be perfectly fair, Rosa does not need frequent reminders to do so. Rather, she usually puts the headgear on voluntarily. And often not just in the evening. Instead, she wears it on and off throughout the day. In other words, she already cooperates quite well.

And yet the girl also has to admit that she actually wears the metal bow less consistently during the day than in the evenings and at night. If she could bring herself to wear the headgear as regularly during the day as in the evening, then everything would be hunky-dory; then there would be absolutely nothing to complain about.

But to do justice to the mother too: she is not pushy or admonishing in her reminders, instead she remains kind and loving. She understands that it still costs her daughter a lot of effort to wear the brace.

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #19 on: 12. June 2022, 18:14:06 PM »
Chapter 15/16

Rosa has no idea why she has been asked by her parents to sit down with them in the living room tonight. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the holidays are rapidly coming to a close and the "serious side of life" will soon begin again? Do the parents want to ask her to be on her best behaviour at the new university?

The girl shortly after realizes this to be a mistake, because the parents make her a proposal instead: they had discussed it with each other and would like to suggest something to their daughter:

A few weeks ago, when she got her braces, Rosa had behaved in an exemplary manner. It was clearly visible that she was not very fond of her braces in the first few days - Rosa sticks her tongue out at her parents - and yet she wore her headgear without complaining. And that hasn't changed in the last few weeks.

That deserves respect, her mother explains: "You're doing much better than I secretly feared. I confess, you are doing even better than I had hoped. I'm a little proud of you!"

Rosalynn can't stop the corners of her mouth from twisting into a flattered grin and her cheeks from turning red. "You know, mom, the worst part was when I had to put the headgear on for the first time at home. When I had to realise that it wasn't a bad dream but that Dr. Coleman really gave me this metal bow to wear. That I really do have to wear such a stupid device now and that it's going to stay like that for a few months now..."

That metal bow around her face and the cushion at the back of her head were indeed incredibly annoying for the first few days. The pull on her molars; the constant feeling of something between her lips; the pressure on the back of her neck and the glint in the corners of her eyes: All this had felt absolutely awful and unfamiliar.

Then Rosa laughs; her hands play with the fringes of a sofa cushion. "But the first night with it was a thousand times worse. Oh man, did I HATE that!" She almost spits out that word as she is reminded of said night.

Her parents nod and her father replies almost gently, "And yet you continued to wear the brace without us having to admonish you much and you put it back in the second night too!"

Rosa blushes as she admits, "But only for one reason: I only continued because mom had worn one as a child. And she promised me that it wouldn't be as bad as I imagined..." Again she laughs, a hard laugh, "And for the first few days, everything REALLY sucked. I was REALLY hoping mom was right."

Then she shrugs and turns directly to her mother, "And I was ready - like REALLY ready - to throw the whole thing in your face if it had NOT gotten better after a few days..."

"I was lucky then," smiles the mother. And the father adds, "Since you didn't throw a tantrum, I think we can assume that it has actually gotten better by now, can't we?"

"A tiny bit". Then she smiles and flicks her index finger against the silver metal bow that spans around her face at that moment. "Do I wear this thing now or not?"

The first hours and days were really bad. And yet at the same time somehow less bad than she had feared. And there are two reasons for that: Her mother and her friends. Because both had declared in their respective ways that it would be annoying during the first few days, that she could however get used to the braces in the end. And these assurances - from two different and independent sides - had helped her keep her nerve.

A look back: She got her braces only a few hours ago. She sits at her - new - game console and tries to concentrate on the game. But she finds it difficult, because the pressure on her molars is unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

But not really bad yet. And the braces are just starting to make the rest of her teeth sensitive. The orthodontist had warned that it would get worse over the next few hours and days before it gets better, but - at least for now - it is still bearable!

Seeing the reflections of the metal bow from the corners of her eyes; the feeling of constantly having something between her lips and the pressure of the neck pad on her neck; all of that is - at least for now - much more annoying to the girl than the onset of toothache. But even that she can ignore more or less as long as her mind is occupied by the game she's playing.

Another thing is far worse than all of the previous things put together:

According to the way her lips and cheeks feel, they must have been torn apart and cut to shreds by the sharp-edged brackets by now. This is far worse than she had imagined, despite all the wax she applied to the brackets.

Asked how it felt to get braces, her friends at school had warned her about exactly that. At the same time, however, they promised her that she would quickly get used to the pricking. In a few days it would be much better and in a few weeks at the latest she would have forgotten that she was wearing braces at all. For the girl, this still sounds like a fairy tale, but Rosa wants to believe her friends. After all, they have had braces for a longer time than herself and know what they are talking about.

The only trouble is that her friends can't help her with the "bridle issue". Firstly, because she hadn't told her friends yet that she had to wear such a thing and secondly, because none of them - as far as she knows - had to wear headgear.

But there is someone who has fist-hand experience with that: Her MOTHER had to endure such a treatment device as a child! And hadn't her mother promised her several times that it wouldn't be so bad? And she must know! Of course - can't be more obvious - the mother doesn't want to drive her daughter crazy and therefore won't tell her "everything", but.... but Rosa wants to believe her mother nonetheless.

If her friends promised that she would get used to her braces quickly and without any problems, and if her mother promised that she could also get used to the headgear....

The braces are far more inconspicuous than the headgear, but no less uncomfortable at the moment! Right now, everything in her mouth feels pointy and sharp, everything is new and uncomfortable. The "dull" pressure on her neck is even better to bear than the pricking of the wires of her braces. At the moment everything is just awful! It's nearly impossible to tell where the braces end and the headgear begins... Everything kind of "blends" together to a "mouthful of braces".

But if she can get used to ONE part - and Rosa has no doubt that she WILL get used to the braces - then why not the OTHER? Maybe - hopefully - the nagging sensation of feeling the metal bow between her lips will be as normal to her in a few weeks as the braces will be by then?

Back in the here and now: Rosa absentmindedly runs a hand through her hair. She had decided a few weeks ago to let her hair grow out so that she could hide at least part of the headgear underneath.

When she had got her braces, it wasn't long enough to hide the blue neck pad. Even now it is not quite long enough, but she is well on her way. In a few weeks it will finally have grown long enough for that!

Not that this will be of much use, Rosa after all has absolutely no desire to wear her headgear "outside". Her mother had said that it was enough if she wore the brace at home and Rosa intends to stick to that. Apart from her parents - and her three friends from High School - no one will ever see her wearing it.

So she didn't really need to let her hair grow. And yet it is somehow "reassuring" to know that - when push comes to shove - in a few weeks no one will be able to notice that she has to wear headgear. At least from behind. Unfortunately, that doesn't help against glances from the side or the front. The neck pad can be hidden, but the silver bow cannot.

But as said, she doesn't plan on wearing the headgear where she could run into "strangers" anyway. So everything is more or less cool!

As the mother continues, she interrupts her daughter's train of thought: "We would like to suggest something to you: You have worked so hard in the last few weeks; you have tried so earnestly to get used to your braces.... We think that this is not something we could have expected and that it deserves a reward. What do you think?"

The corners of Rosa's mouth point upwards. She is immensely pleased. Less about the implied reward and more about the praise her parents had offered. She had been REALLY serious about coming to terms with her bridle. That is something she never expected herself. That this is recognised and rewarded by her parents means a lot to her. At the same time, of course, she is curious to know what her parents think of as a fitting "reward".

"You know, Rosa," the mother begins, "we had noticed that you were disappointed when you didn't get the right grade in the UPT for the holiday in France. That's why you asked us to exchange rewards. We refused at the time, as I'm sure you remember."

Rosa rolled her eyes: Of course she remembers. Because if her parents had allowed her to freely choose the rewards for her grades, she would most certainly NOT be sitting in the living room now with a headgear around her head.

The father puts in, "We still think that was fair back then: we agreed on something - you and us - and we both had to stick to it - you and us." He smiles slightly, "Yes, I admit that for you it had the 'stupid' consequence of not getting inconspicuous braces - but Rosa - you admitted yourself that you've gotten used to it by now..."

The girl shakes her head, "Not at all. I have definitely NOT gotten used to the stupid headgear!" Then she waves it off, a narrow grin on her face, "But.... But on the other hand, it didn't turn out QUITE as bad as I feared..."

"Same difference," the father smiles. "What I meant to say was: you got your Playstation; you went shopping and you want to wear the new dress on the first day of university. And you don't need to - as you have just admitted - cry your eyes out over your braces. In other words, on three of the four rewards, you have no cause for complaint..."

"Nor with the fourth," Rosa quickly interjects. "Death Valley may not be France, but it's certainly worth the trip!"

She certainly doesn't want to appear ungrateful. The "telling off" her parents had given her a few weeks ago had served its purpose: In the meantime, she had slowly but surely realised the costs she had caused her parents. And that she had perhaps gone too far with her wishes. Her parents nod, visibly pleased that their daughter was sensible enough to realise this.

"That's true, Death Valley is impressive and definitely worth a trip," agrees the father. "That's why we originally suggested it to you."

"But you know, honey," his wife picks up the thread, "let me tell you something: Do you know why we suggested to fly to France in return for an 'A'?"

Rosa shakes her head. She hadn't asked herself that question before. But now she listens all the more curiously. Her parents look at each other and for a moment their features melt; they hold hands and grin at each other like teenagers head over heels in love. Rosa gets wide-eyed: she doesn't know her parents like that.

"We spent our honeymoon in France." the father explains, "And we wouldn't mind going there again." And his wife adds with a smile, "I have to admit, we were - just like you - a little disappointed when your grade wasn't good enough for France..."

"Are you serious?" Rosa stares from her father to her mother and back. And when they both nod, she throws her head back, "My goodness. This is really stupid! If you yourself wanted to go to France the whole time, why didn't you throw these stupid rules overboard? It would have been easier for all of us." She reaches for the metal bow, "And I wouldn't have had to put up with THAT now..."

"You know, Rosa," the father begins, but his daughter interrupts him, "Yes, yes, I know: 'rules are rules'!" Then she sighs. "But now let me tell YOU something: sometimes, rules are just stupid!"

Another sigh, long and lingering. "But it's too late now anyway. Now I have my headgear and now I'll wear it as best I can! Anything else doesn't make sense anymore! I understand that much"

A second passes, then another. Then she grins broadly: "But do I understand you correctly? You really want to say that... that we are going to France?"

"There's no point NOW, the holidays are almost over," the father calms his daughter down. "But next summer holidays? Does that sound viable?"

The grin on Rosa's face is only slightly narrower than the metal bow she is wearing. She claps her hands enthusiastically.

"Provided," her mother interjects, "that you continue to wear your headgear in an exemplary manner. After all, it's supposed to be a reward for your efforts. It would be stupid if you slacked off now..."

Now the broad grin collapses a little. She looks uncertainly at her mother: "What am I supposed to think of as 'exemplary'?" What would her parents ask of her? How exhausting would it be to please her parents?

Does this "exemplary" perhaps even include that the parents expect her to wear the headgear to university? If so, France would remain a dream.

"There's no question about that," her mother shakes her head. "I promised you that I would NEVER ask you to wear the brace to school. No, it's actually quite simple: just keep wearing the bow the way you've been wearing it for the past few weeks and you'll be well on your way."

Then she cocks her head, "And if you could try a little harder to wear the bow in the afternoons too, when you get back from Uni, then I won't have any more complaints. Do you think you can do that?"

As a reply, the broad grin returns to her daughter's face. "So I'll get to see France after all!"

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #20 on: 13. June 2022, 16:57:51 PM »
Chapter 16/16

A few final details may be revealed:

Maybe it has to do with the fact that she has only heard positive things from her grandmother and mother and therefore her view of the new university is not objective, but she likes it there. Right from the start she feels at home at Bedford and it is much more fun than high school - also thanks to the interesting extra courses.

She loses track of most of her schoolmates pretty quickly. As feared, contact with Mike, LaToya and Amy also decreases significantly. They still meet a few times, but as each of them makes new friends, it becomes increasingly difficult to find time to meet. And - as unfortunate as it is - it becomes less and less important for all four of them to meet up with their "old friends" as time goes on. Everyone lives their own life now.

The father suggested, not to wait an entire year until the next summer holidays to fly to France, but to move it forward to the Christmas holidays and celebrate New Year in Europe. That sounds so interesting that indeed the bags are packed right after the Christmas days.

And because this is a time when everything quiets down anyway and even the parent's businesses take a step back, the parents have decided that instead of one week, they could stay in France for ten days. This way, the employees get to enjoy a few extra days of paid holiday. And it also gives the parents time to show their daughter the places where they had spent their honeymoon.

When it's time to pack her bags, Rosa is not at all annoyed when her mother reminds her to take the headgear with her. "Yes, mom, don't worry, I won't forget that thing."

Yes, she still has to wear her headgear; the treatment device has not yet done its job. In the meantime, however, Rosalynn has worn the brace long enough to be able to say with confidence, "As long as I don't have to go to Uni with it, I can live with the bridle. It's not that bad! As long as I don't have to walk through crowds with it, I'll be fine."

So there would have been no need for her mother's "admonition". If she had been told however at the beginning of her treatment that she would voluntarily and willingly take her headgear with her to France, Rosa would have laughed out loud.

And yet... She is not looking forward to wearing the headgear during her holidays, of course. She can imagine nicer things. For example, holidays WITHOUT headgear. On the other hand, that thing doesn't bother her enough anymore, to even think about starting a quarrel over it.

The fact surely also plays a role, that she's aware that the reason they're going on holiday to Europe together is precisely because it's a reward for wearing her braces in such an "exemplary" way. And so she should be on her best behaviour - especially now, shouldn't she?

Not to mention that she doesn't have to wear the metal bow "round the clock" anyway. She'll wear it in the hotel room, but she definitely won't strap it on when she's strolling through Paris with her parents. And then it's tolerable!

At least that's how she had imagined it. But on the third day of her holiday, it had suddenly started to snow.

Really large, soft, white flakes slowly descend from the sky to the ground in swarms. The parents can just about get their daughter to put on her winter jacket, then she had already run out of the room. Now she stands in the courtyard of the hotel, staring wide-eyed at the sky.

Rosa knew - being from the southern part of the USA - that her "snow experience" was limited, but the amount of white frozen water crystals she sees in France amazes her. For people from Canada or Alaska, that would be laughable, but for the girl from the southern states, the three inches of snow are a small sensation.

And THIS kind of snowfall, she had never seen something like that before. She giggles as a large snowflake lands on her cheek like a white fluffy butterfly. And she is a little bit disappointed when the "butterfly" then promptly melts.

When another "butterfly" settles on her nose, she reaches for it in delight. And then pauses, wide-eyed, as her hand catches on something. She had left the hotel room in such a hurry that she had completely forgotten that she was still wearing her headgear.

Suddenly nervous, Rosa looks around: By now she is no longer alone in the courtyard. A few other children and even a few adults have joined her and want to experience the snowfall directly. Apparently, she is not the only one who is strangely fascinated by the flurry.

No one sees how Rosa's cheeks become even redder than they already are due to the cold. Should she take out her headgear? No, she decides against it: firstly, no one seems to take any notice of her anyway; everyone's attention is focused on the flakes coming from above. And if she were to take out her headgear and someone were to watch her.... THAT would be even more embarrassing....

And yet she is glad when after a few minutes her parents join her and bring along a scarf for her. Firstly, slowly but surely it's getting cold and secondly, she can hide her metal bow in it. She doesn't have to worry about the neck pad, as her hair has grown long enough by now to reliably hide the blue cushion. But now, even the silver bow is hidden out of sight.

The snow fascinates the girl, but she is much less taken with the accompanying cold. And yet two days later she builds the first snowman of her life.

Rosa is fascinated and frightened at the same time by the fireworks on New Year's Eve. To be precise, not by the fireworks themselves, but by the fact that apparently everyone in Europe is allowed to shoot off rockets themselves. Her parents feel the same way: "It's a miracle that they don't blow each other up," her father agrees. They therefore decide against strolling through the streets of Paris during the fireworks. It seems too risky for them.

The hotel where they are staying - a first-class hotel, by the way - seems to be well aware of the fact. Guests therefore have the opportunity to purchase a limited assortment of fireworks from the hotel and shoot them off on a hotel-owned square. Under the watchful eye of staff members who take care that safety is maintained.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" the parents ask in amazement as they leave their hotel room. "We won't be alone down there, you know!"

"It's all right," Rosa nods, her head red. "But just for today. To celebrate or something. Don't expect me to do this all the time from now on..."

And so Rosa also gets to set off a few rockets herself while watching the spectacle above the rooftops of Paris from a safe distance. The explosions of the fireworks are reflected by the silver bow around her face. She is well aware that some curious eyes do linger on her, but today.... today she doesn't care.

Rosa decides she wants to learn French next school year. Hopefully a course will be offered. And she definitely wants to return to France someday!

Dr. Coleman is also pleased with his patient. She'd cooperate well enough, he praises her. Even if she misses the wearing schedule from time to time - and Rosa is honest enough not to cheat - she cooperates consistently enough that he has already been able to reduce the prognosis of how long she will have to live with headgear.

Stupidly, though, she still has a few months ahead of herself. "If I need headgear for about a year, my teeth must have been a darn lot more crooked than I thought..."

But fortunately, the rest of the time will pass much more "problem-free" than Rosa had imagined in her nightmares. She will not wear it to Uni, but little by little several of her new friends will find out about it.

END - No sequel

I would like to ask you again to tell me, what you thought of that sequel. Worthwile or could/should the next story do without?

Offline giacc

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #21 on: 13. June 2022, 18:47:51 PM »
Nice story! Elegant, I loved the slow way Ros found it wasn't a drama to wear headgear!

Offline Sparky

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Re: story - F means headgear
« Reply #22 on: 13. June 2022, 23:32:57 PM »
>> I would like to ask you again to tell me, what you thought of that sequel. Worthwhile or could/should the next story do without?

Its odd, but I think the story works well both WITH the sequel, and WITHOUT it....

And it's a question I sometimes face when I'm writing: do I just leave things as-is (and then sometimes I get further inspiration to actively continue the story), or do I "finish things off". With my "Dark Fairy" story, it was left open, and "Elida" became it's follow-on. But with "Elida", I did add in a couple of extra bits, to finish things off... I'm thinking that part of the fairy storyline is now done.

I did like your description of Rosa's interaction with the snow in France: being in the south of England, where we get 'proper snow' once every 5 or 10 years,  I can quite understand the reaction of someone who has never seen snow before. More importantly, the whole story was both full of emotion as well as some lovely storytelling! I'm looking forward to your next story!