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Author Topic: Story: Managing a Metal Mouth [Book 1]  (Read 4880 times)

Offline Tin_Grin8444

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Re: Story: Managing a Metal Mouth
« Reply #15 on: 11. May 2020, 12:34:24 PM »
Thanks so much for the feedback friends! <3 I've definitely got a lot more planned for this bad boy!

Chapter 4

I haden't thought about the fact that I'd have to be able to chew after unlocking the appliance... If I'm not careful, I'll just lock myself open again and have to let Cynthia unlock me. Problem is since I skipped lunch earlier, I didn't eat before getting my braces installed, and now I'm really getting hungry. Looking around my mini fridge, I hadn't stocked up on any kind of braces friendly food, say for a few apple sauce pouches. I figured I'd try it. What could go wrong?

Everything went wrong. After trying to sip on the first pouch, I found I couldn't even get my lips around the pouch to suck out the apple juice, so my only option was to squeeze it out and try to swallow it. Then, thanks to the tongue spikes, I could barely get half of the sauce behind my front few teeth, since my tongue couldn't get past the spikes, and what little sauce I could get past the spikes was getting caught in the winding mechanism. Next, when trying to swallow, most of the apple sauce got stuck around the brackets and behind the headgear tubes, so I would gag on the apple sauce that hadn't gone down all the way. Now since I had food in my mouth, my mouth was trying it's hardest to produce as much spit as humanly possible, so I'm drooling all over my shirt and on my floor. I franticly go for the paper towels to dry it up, but as I lean down even more drool falls out, so I'm forced to make that oh so embarrassing trademark braces sucking in sound. Since I've basically made a puddle on my dorm floor, I have to suck in a number of times just to clear the saliva before I can wipe it up.
Cynthia clearly heard me from the couch and comes to check on me. Upon seeing the mess that's become of my humble attempt to eat, she gives a worried look and rushes over to help. She started by wiping up my chin and telling me it was okay, and asking how bad it was. I sheepishly opened my mouth and her expression was once again one of understanding and love. She bring me to the sink and hands me a water bottle. "Try swishing this around to clear it out of the mechanism. Whatever you can't swallow, just spit into the sink. Take your time, okay? I'm here for you" So I gave it a shot. Thank God I was at the sink cause for the first 4 tries all I could do was get water and apple sauce everywhere. After a few more I started to get the hang of it and actually got some apple sauce down without gagging (washed down with a ton of water) I didn't even wanna try chewing actual food yet. This ordeal was enough for me to go to bed hungry.
It was starting to get late and Cynthia was needing to head back to her place for the night, so she brought me to the bathroom and showed me how to navigate a tooth brush past the appliances. Then she showed me how to thread the dental floss through the brackets and wires. Finally she taught me how to use this tiny dental brush to clean the mechanism and my headgear tubes. I tried to ask, "Whiey tu Ie nyeed tu Cleen thothe?"
She smiled sympathetically. "You're going to need them. Don't stay up late okay? Try to get some sleep."
She kissed me gently and held my face before leaving for the night. I was exhausted after such an eventful day, and I was 90% sure I was gonna be skipping class tomorrow. I needed time to get used to this. I finished cleaning my braces and the appliance (with great difficulty) and headed to bed.
After tossing and turning I discovered yet another reason these braces are going to be the end of me. I'm normally a belly sleeper, which means I normally rest my cheek on the pillow. With my new metal mouth? Not happening. Now I can only lay on my back unless I want a bloody mouth from the sharp brackets digging into my cheeks and lips, so I didn't sleep a wink. In spite of all of this, I remain determined to see this through. I think about how Cynthia went through all of this trouble just to do this for me. I think about how patient and loving she's been with me today. She never once recoiled or looked disgusted with me, only sympathetic and caring. I really am lucky to have her. She could have easily just gone home after dropping me off, but she stayed with me and made sure I was okay. I really do love her, and it's amazing to know that she really loves me.

I wake up the next day with my mouth aching. I try to move it and I'm reminded that not only can I not move my jaw from side to side anymore, but now the two springed piston arms on each arch are making this loud clacking whenever I open or close. I keep opening and closing to test it but suddenly jerk myself fully awake remembering what will happen if I'm not careful. Since I was winding the mechanism just now my mouth is already in more pain than before. Since my mouth is hurting, my instinct is to chew on something to lesson it, but chewing just winds up the mechanism even more. I decide to call Cynthia and tell her good morning. Talking to her is a sure fire way to brighten up my day. I tap her name on my phone and instinctively smile, feeling my lips scrape against the front brackets as they part. I hear Cynthia pick up on the other end.
"Hey Baby! How's you mouth feeling?"
"Isth hutting, bu itsh not asth bah" Crap, I sound even worse.
"It's okay sweety just take your time."
"Ith noh ashh badd"
"See? If you just take it slow and practice you can do this. I know you can. I've got biology in 10 minutes, so I've gotta go. Try hitting the grocery store for some food you can eat if you're not gonna go to class today. I'll text you a list of stuff you can eat. I love you!"
"I luff yu thoo..."
After she hangs up, I get a notification of a short list of foods I can try. Ice cream, liquid soup, bananas and peanut butter. Peanut butter sounds like it'll be a nightmare to swallow, so I decide to head to the grocery store for Ice cream, bananas and soup.
On my way past the University's fountain, I spot my theatre classmate, Sarah. I try frantically to avoid contact since I can barely pronounce simple sentences, but she somehow sees me and runs over as soon as she spots me, no doubt because she forgot about Ms. Patricia's assignment for theatre.
"Hey Gregory, do you know what to do for Miss Patricia's Assignment?"
Knew it.
"H..Hey Sharuh. Yeh Ie uh.. finisthed et a fyu daysh ugo.."
"Oh my God! What's wrong with your mouth? What is that? Let me see!" She's smirking now.
I don't even know why I did, but I sheepishly grin for her, enough to blind her with a reflection of the sun.
She playfully smirks, visibly disgusted. "Oh my God what is that?!!?"
"Mye bwashesh.." the whole time, the piston arms and clacking with each open.
"Hahaaahaha Oh my God I can't believe you got braces!" Of course she says it loud for everyone to hear. "Lol it's a shame you've got such a nice set of train tracks there, cause I don't think your Bone Train's gonna be leaving the station anytime soon hahaha!"
She walks away and starts texting on her phone... Crap. She's gonna tell all her friends about my new medieval torture device catching more light than a solar panel. I can feel my face turning red as people are still looking at me after that comment, and I still can't close my lips, so I quickly walk as fast as I can towards the store. Hopefully I can avoid any other conversations on the way...


Offline Braceface2015

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Re: Story: Managing a Metal Mouth
« Reply #16 on: 11. May 2020, 20:06:53 PM »
I have added this story to TheArchive. Keep going. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Offline amlligm

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Re: Story: Managing a Metal Mouth
« Reply #17 on: 12. May 2020, 03:35:29 AM »
Great story keep it coming!

Offline Braceme

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Re: Story: Managing a Metal Mouth
« Reply #18 on: 12. May 2020, 17:53:32 PM »
Great story! I’m opening and closing my metal mouth just in case...

Offline Tin_Grin8444

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Re: Story: Managing a Metal Mouth
« Reply #19 on: 13. May 2020, 11:48:28 AM »
Aight ladies and gents  ;) Let's get wholesome

Chapter 5

That run-in with Sarah definitely wasn't ideal. Not only does my appliance keep making a clacking noise anytime I talk, but I keep over-producing saliva since my mouth still isn't used to all this hardware yet. Even worse, she mentioned Ms. Patricia's assignment for our Theatre class, and I'll have to give a presentation for that! I can't even get through a half-decent conversation, let alone give a full presentation with the lisping, the clacking, AND the drool... I need to calm down. Just think of the positives. Cynthia still thinks I look cute, I'm getting the treatment I've been needing for years,

Yea, I can't think of anything else.
It's getting really hard to think. My mouth is throbbing now. Not really a sharp pain, but the constant pressure makes me want to bite down and chew, but that just makes it worse. Maybe the ice cream will help once I get back from the store... maybe Cynthia could do another one of her jaw massages! She really is good at those. I dozed off pretty hard from it yesterday.
I know! I'll get her something nice as a thank you on my way!
Taking a look around, there isn't much in the way of gifts for this kind of thing. Do they even make cards that say "Thanks for the braces"? I turn the corner and see the store, a Bullseye superstore, and next to it there's a cute flower stand. Perfect! I can see if they have some flowers she'd like and pick up something good from the store and make dinner for her! Since we both have braces now, I just have to find something we can both eat. I walk up to the flower shop and this nice old lady clearly sees I'm excited, as she walks up with a smile.
"Looking for something for a special someone?"
I respond, without thinking. "Yesshs! My girlflind.." A steady line of drool drops to the pavement and I'm absolutely mortified with embarrassment.
The nice lady doesn't laugh. "She must be very lucky to have such a nice man as yourself! What kind of flowers would you like?"
I feel a little better, and manage "Bluwe orchidthh pleassth?"
"Certainly! How many?"
"Jushht shixsh.."
She gathers them as I try to discretely wipe the drool around my lips. I ask her how much, but she just shakes her head and smiles, pushing me on my way with the flowers in my hands.
"Th-Thanh yooh!"
That was really unexpected, but it really brightened my mood! She was so nice! She didn't laugh or make a comment, and she just gave me the flowers for free!
I make it into Bullseye, and start by looking over the soup isle for something decent. I decide something canned wouldn't be good enough. I know I can do better for Cynthia. I head over to the tiny packets of powder. I have a slow cooker in the dorm, and something like a beef stew would taste great! I quickly google a recipe, and start tracking down the ingredients. After I've picked out the beef and some vegetables, I nab some bananas and grab some ice cream and check out.
After getting home, I start the slow cooker with the packet, some water, the cut up beef and the veggies. I figure if I cook the meat enough, it'll fall apart really easily and won't be a problem at all to chew for either of us. I get the flowers ready with a nice card I made with some nice floral patterns around the edge, since Cynthia likes flowery stuff. I figure she'll come over tonight to check up on me, but I text to make sure anyway, and of course that was her plan. With dinner cooking and the flowers and card ready to go, I decide to pick out a movie she'll like. After settling on an old claymation Christmas movie, I patiently wait for her to get here so I can surprise her. I really am grateful for all the patience and effort she's put into helping me adjust to my new orthodontic look, so I'm really excited to be able to do this for her.
She arrives, wearing denim overalls shorts, a T-shirt I got her for her 22nd birthday, and her hair in a high ponytail. I meet her at the door with the flowers, the card, and the biggest smile I can manage, and suddenly, the embarrassing encounter with Sarah, drooling in front of the nice lady, it's all worth the trouble when I see her breathtaking smile. I can see her smelling the beef stew from the doorway, and she's elated, almost tearing up. "Greg! You didn't have to do all of this! Are these blue orchids?! Oh my God the card's so nice!" She's kissing me and she can't seem to stop smiling.
Dinner ended up being a hit. It actually tasted really good, and wasn't too hard to swallow thanks to the broth either. Even though the beef broke apart easily, it ended up getting stuck in almost every part of my braces, but it doesn't bother me. Cynthia's beside herself when she sees the Christmas movie pulled up on the tv. Definitely a successful boyfriend move. I silently high-five myself to celebrate. I bust out the ice cream and head to clean the beef out of my braces while it thaws, as Cynthia follows me to the bathroom mirror.
"Beef got caught in your appliance, huh Cutie?" She stares at me dreamily.
"Ish not tha bahd." Nothing could ruin the mood I was in. Not even the fact that all that chewing cranked the appliance a good bit. She was happy. She grabs an inter-dental brush and walks over to me, smiling her own shiny smile.
"Here, let me. Open." I hesitate for a second, but obediently do so, as she starts gently brushing out the mechanism, bit by bit. She takes her time, and even seems to enjoy it. I tell myself to just relax and let her do as she pleases. It felt strange, but it certainly wasn't bad. She paid extra attention to my headgear tubes for some reason, making sure they were clear of any food stuck inside of them. After she was done, she brought me to the couch and sat me down with her, staring at me with those "love eyes".
"I really appreciated this Gregory. Thank you..." She grabbed the sides of my face and pulled me in.

 After a lot of kissing, we bust out the ice cream and play the movie, the both of us wrapped up in a blanket, and we watch the claymation movie. The staticy singing of the characters does wonders to set the mood. She lays my head against her chest and starts brushing my head with her hands. This is nice. I could stay like this with her forever. The cold from the ice cream relieved a lot of the pain from my braces too, so nothing could hurt this moment. Thinking about it, these braces aren't that bad. Sure it's awkward having such a full mouth, but Cynthia doesn't mind the drooling, or the lisping, and really seems to like them. Maybe I need to think about this differently. Maybe it's not a matter of "getting used" to my braces, but a matter of embracing them. They're a part of me now. Cynthia's definitely taken that approach to hers. I can't really imagine her without them. Sure they'll change color every few months, usually to a combo of pink, purple, neon green or baby blue, but their still her braces. They're a part of her. Maybe I could let her pick out a color for mine for my next appointment. We could even color coordinate our braces together! I decide to ask her about it.
"Hey, wanna pick a coler for mye brasheesh?"
I can tell she wasn't expecting the question, but she smiles, flashing her brackets.
"Sure! Let's start you out with blue. You're next appointment's actually tomorrow!"
Huh. That's pretty quick for just getting these on yesterday, but I guess it's because of my special case that Dr. Collin's would wanna do a follow up so soon.
Blue bands huh? If she wants em, I'll get em.
The movie's snowy background lighting up the dark dorm room illuminates her face. She's absolutely gorgeous. I can tell she's happy. Seeing her like this really makes this worth it.

Definitely a successful night.

Offline pi314phi18

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Re: Story: Managing a Metal Mouth
« Reply #20 on: 14. May 2020, 02:29:58 AM »
I hope anxiuosly the next appointment

Offline xxxforce

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Re: Story: Managing a Metal Mouth
« Reply #21 on: 14. May 2020, 10:26:45 AM »
Nice Story..

Cynthia is definitely involved in Some Way and she knows more than she's telling her friend - an whats the Story about HER braces as she still wears them? ;)

Offline tsk

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Re: Story: Managing a Metal Mouth
« Reply #22 on: 14. May 2020, 14:19:16 PM »
Brilliant story!

Offline Orio

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Re: Story: Managing a Metal Mouth
« Reply #23 on: 14. May 2020, 22:40:16 PM »
Love where the story is headed! That next appointment will definitely be exciting  ;D

Offline Tin_Grin8444

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Re: Story: Managing a Metal Mouth
« Reply #24 on: 15. May 2020, 11:55:29 AM »
Thank y'all for the feedback! It really brightens up my day to read the responses!  ;D

Offline Tin_Grin8444

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Re: Story: Managing a Metal Mouth
« Reply #25 on: 17. May 2020, 12:52:06 PM »
Bananas pajamas friends, your boy's back  ;D

Chapter 6

I woke up to the pain of rubber band hooks tearing into my cheeks, and the feelings of my head gently rising and falling. I groaned and opened my eyes to see I was still laying on Cynthia from last night. Did she not go home? I can't remember the second half of the movie... I must've crashed pretty hard. My shifting wakes Cynthia. She flashes the cutest tired smile I've ever seen and pulls me close for a kiss.
"Goodmorning babe!"
"How lown wash Ie ow fo?" I felt pretty well rested and good all around aside from my aching cheeks and gums.
She pulls her hair into two high ponytails as she sits up.
"You fell asleep towards the end of the movie. I could tell you were pretty tired so I figured I'd let you sleep since I don't have class today."
Today was Wednesday, I have an appointment... Crap, I also have to present in Theatre for Ms. Patricia... It's an afternoon class so I guess I'll just go after the appointment.
It was still relatively early in the morning so we had breakfast together and got ready for the day. I felt a little better after a shower. Cynthia gave her aunt a call and said we'd be heading over there soon. After she got off of the phone with her she said to make sure I cleaned my appliance, and paid good attention to the headgear tubes.
We decide to take her car since she can drop me off outside of my Theatre building after the appointment. After getting to the office, we're greeted by a different assistant than last time. This one seems a lot less friendly, at least towards me. She greeted Cynthia in such a friendly way, only to be short with me and give me one of those "Ew" looks. Dr. Collins welcomes us back and ushers me into the chair. Cynthia's by my side just like last time, holding my hand and reassuring me as Dr. Collins does something to the appliance I can't see. She resurfaces and starts explaining the purpose of this visit.
"So Gregory, I'm sure you've started to get accustom to you appliance,"
As accustom as you can get in two days
"So we're going to start you on your first appliance!"
She has her assistant bring over what looks like the headgear the woman from last time was wearing, but with a bunch of loose wires and WAY more straps. I'm pretty sure I tensed up at the sight of the thing because Cynthia gently squeezed my hand and whispered
"Don't worry baby. Just relax, and it'll be okay."
I tried my best to move my shoulders back down as Dr. Collins moves the horse bridle towards my mouth held open. I had no way of protesting the seemingly inevitable installation of this thing, and after she lines up the bow with what I can only assume were my headgear tubes, I hear a CLACK on each side, followed by Dr. Collins twisting something with what looked like pliers, even pulling really hard on the main bar itself. After smiling from behind her medical mask, she brings up the two sets of straps, one neon green, and the other neon pink! Do they have to be such obvious colors?!? The painfully florescent green goes over the top of my head, and the highlighter pink tugs along the back of my neck.
It feels like my entire head and mouth are in one massive handcuff. After tugging on some of the straps with some kind of scale she clips something onto each of the straps, and sits the chair back up.
"Okay Gregory, what we've just installed is a prototype headgear designed to work with your appliance. I didn't want to install it the first day like I was supposed to, since Cynthia thought it might be a bit too much for you to handle in one day."
Yea no duh.
"It's also outfitted with a kind of safety locking mechanism that prevents removal, since your appliance uses built up force to move your teeth, the arms the appliance aren't adequate to stabilize your bite from moving too far forward, so I've had to make sure you won't be able to remove the facebow."
Well this is great. I can't even imagine how I look right now since I'm not allowed a mirror, and Cynthia's reaction isn't really anything to go off of. I was all on board for embracing my braces, but this is getting a little extreme. She lowered the chair back down and lined each of my brackets with a bright blue. Great, now I'm only missing a few colors for the whole rainbow. Once back in the waiting area, the rude receptionist can't help but smirk at me., like I somehow deserve this. As if my lips not being able to hide the braces was bad enough, now this massive metal bar is puffing my cheeks out more. I can feel everyone's eyes on me, no doubt thanks to my headgear straps that would put a traffic sign to shame. Cynthia schedules my next appointment but I don't even pay attention to the date. I trying to feel around my mouth to get a sense of just how intrusive this thing is, but the tongue spurs keep jabbing me, so I start to feel around these heavy straps on my head, but Cynthia stops me after she notices. She grabs me by the hand and leads me outside, where even more people are starting to stare. Once in the car I let loose
"Dih yoo noh Ie waschs gehing deeshs?!" A glob of drool poors out onto my lap as soon as I open my mouth.
I THOUGHT MY LISP BEFORE WAS BAD. Now since my cheeks are held at bay by the facebow, and my lips can't meet, I can barely annunciate words! I probably can't even say the word "annunciate"!
Cynthia's quick to pull a napkin from seemingly nowhere, and dabs the spit off of my lap. She pulls another one from her pocket. She gently puts her hand under my chin and says,
"Open up."
I do as she says and she softly fits the napkin around my upper arch and beneath my top palete, and closes my mouth, giving me a sympathetic look. She looked sorry. Not sorry as in sorry for me, but sorry as if this was her fault.
"Last week, my aunt told me that you were gonna need headgear. She was planning to install it along with your braces, but I begged her to wait. I knew the transition was gonna be rough for you, and I didn't want to scare you off from the idea of treatment. After going through all of that trouble over the past few months to set this up for you, I didn't want you to be completely closed off to the idea..."
I couldn't exactly respond since my mouth was a drooling mess held together only by a napkin lovingly shoved into my mouth. She continued,
"I was gonna tell you! When you got the braces I could tell how miserable you were so I tried to be supportive, and I wanted to tell you yesterday, but then you surprised me with the dinner and the movie! I was really happy and I could tell you were too! I didn't wanna ruin the time we were having... I really am sorry... I didn't think it would be this bad."
She was on the verge of tears. I could tell she felt torn up about this. Cynthia was good at a lot of things, but fake crying was definitely not one of them. I pulled the napkin half way out of my mouth, letting small bits of drool fall out.
"Ien noh mah ah you... Ien jushth... shchared... an a liihl embawashthed..." I shoved the napkin back in and hugged her. She started sobbing all over me, making more of a mess than I did. I just held her there for a few minutes and let her cry.
I made her switch seats with me and drove her back to my dorm. I tried to tell her (through sheets of paper and a pen) that I was gonna really try to embrace my braces and my headgear as a part of me, and how grateful I was and still am for doing this for me.
After crying even more, she helped me replace the napkin for cotton balls. I tried to sneak glances in my bathroom mirror, and boy was it bad. The neon green straps across my head were as obvious as I feared, and the neon pink strap was firmly secure around the back of my neck, tugging on me whenever I tried to turn my head. My mouth looked and most certainly felt fuller than ever. If I wasn't a metal mouth before, I was now. I walked out to meet Cynthia and try to give her the best smile I could. She sniffled,
"You're not mad at me?.."
I shook my head and tried to kiss her. It definitely felt awkward, but I held out for her. Still kissing me, she gently grabbed my face and before I knew it, she slipped her tongue in! I guess not in a romantic way, since she was more trying to feel around my mouth. After she encountered the tongue spikes, she pulled away with the most sincere look of guilt like she'd just hit a bunny with her car.
"I'M SO SORRY"
She's crying again. And here I was trying to be sweet.
After some more hugging, she manages to compose herself and grabs something from her bag, still sniffling. from her purse she pulls out a small pink bag with a zipper.
"I figured I'd bring this in case you got lonely being the only one..." She tried to manage a smile as she pulled something out of the bag. It was a facebow and a set of neon pink straps like mine, except they were both pink. The padding looked more worn. I guess I'd seen her with it on a few years back, but I hadn't thought about it in months. She flashes the best smile she can manage, slips on her headgear, and pulls her pigtails through the straps without needing a mirror, as if she's done it dozens of times. She smiled, and she actually looked pretty good with it on. I mean, she looked good in anything, but somehow she made headgear look cute.
She motions me over to the couch, where she lays my head down to her lap and starts massaging the sides of my jaw to alleviate the pain my headgear was starting to inflict, like she knew exactly where it was going to hurt.
"I know you've got Theatre later, just let me do this before I bring you, okay?"

Crap... I forgot about Theatre...

Offline Braceface88

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Re: Story: Managing a Metal Mouth
« Reply #26 on: 17. May 2020, 14:38:51 PM »
this story is really good!

Offline amlligm

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Re: Story: Managing a Metal Mouth
« Reply #27 on: 18. May 2020, 03:10:19 AM »
So good thanks for this chapter!

Offline danfan209

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Re: Story: Managing a Metal Mouth
« Reply #28 on: 20. May 2020, 20:22:07 PM »
Good story :) looking forward to the next chapter

Offline Tin_Grin8444

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Re: Story: Managing a Metal Mouth
« Reply #29 on: 23. May 2020, 14:35:35 PM »
Bingo bongo friends let's get to it ;)

Chapter 7

Much to my surprise, Cynthia kept her pink-strapped headgear on the whole way bringing me to my theatre class. It was kinda nice, since she looked pretty cute in it. I could tell she still felt bad about Dr. Collins locking my headgear in. Speaking of which, how am I going to give my presentation when I can't even pronounce words without lisping and leaving puddles of drool whenever I open my mouth? The cotton balls Cynthia had placed were already soaked, and I knew that I'd have to remove them to try talking. I could barely cover the headgear bar with my lips, let alone cover the braces, so it was a constant effort of that signature braces slurp to keep the drool from cascading onto my lap in the car.
We got to the parking lot next to the building my class was in, and Cynthia decided to give me a sort of pep talk. I think she knew what was going through my head.

"It'll be okay. Just take your time with your words and you'll be okay. Don't worry about having to suck in to keep the drool in. Try swallowing as much of it as you can before you go up, okay Cutie?"

It amazed me that she could talk perfectly fine without lisping or drooling, even with her headgear. Maybe it was because she didn't have tongue spurs like I did.
SLURP "Yeeshh..."

She gave my a warm smile and tried to kiss me, at first clashing our headgear bows together. After that swing and miss, she grabs my face and maneuvers her headgear below mine and succeeds, gently kissing me for a good minute.

SLURP "Thankshh..."

After I reach the door to the building I can see Cynthia pulling out of the parking lot, still wearing her headgear. For some reason, instead of heading back in the direction of the dorms, she drives off the opposite direction. Maybe she's going into town for something.

I notice my hands shaking as I pull open the door. I manage to navigate the hallways without anyone seeing me. It definitely wouldn't be hard with the florescent colored straps of my headgear. I stop at the door to the lecture hall.
SLURP
As soon as I open that door, everyone's going to turn around and look to see who it is, and see the massive metal facebow, the glint of my shiny braces on display for everyone, and these damn headgear straps.
SLURP
What's worse, whoever doesn't turn around will no doubt see me when I have to stand up at the front podium to give my presentation.
SLURP
I start to tug at the facebow, just to see if maybe Dr. Collins made a mistake, and hadn't actually locked it in.
SLURP
I'm only met with a dull pain in my entire top arch. The headgear is locked in tight. I try the straps. Surely I can at least take those off. I try to fiddle with them to find the release, but I can't find it. It's like the whole thing is smooth. What the heck?
SLURP
I head to the bathroom on the next hall and luckily don't bump into anyone. Everyone's probably in class already. I'm late.
SLURP
I reach the mirror and see what Dr. Collins attached to my headgear straps. She closed off the hole with some kind of plastic lock that kept the bar stuck in the holes of the strap. It has a tiny key hole on either strap. Crap, Cynthia must have the key. These straps.. It's not just the facebow. Every part of this headgear is literally locked onto me. I CAN'T TAKE THIS THING OUT!
SLURP
I stare at bathroom mirror, and staring back at me is some poor nerd with more hardware than a grease monkey's garage in his mouth, exposed by lips that can't close, all on display for the whole world to see.
SLURP
I can't even skip this class. I have to go through with the presentation. The assignment is half of my overall grade!
SLURP
I decide to follow Cynthia's advice. It's not like there's anything else I can do... I suck up as much drool as I can and swallow to the best of my ability and head back to the class room.
I reach the door and throw caution to the wind swinging the door open and walk in.

Instantly the full room of students turns and gaps in awe. I try to keep walking to my seat in the front row. I glance and see Sarah giggling as she whispers to her friends while looking straight at me with a smirk. They're ALL looking at me with a smirk. I can hear people saying things like "metal mouth" and "tinsel teeth" and giggling. The athletes are much less subtle asking if I wanna take out the horse brittle to eat a carrot.
I get to my seat and see the professor still unpacking, 10 minutes after class started. I couldn’t even get lucky enough to enter while someone else was presenting. I find my seat and can feel the whole room staring at my headgear straps. I didn't blame them, it's like they were designed to be as eye-catching as possible.
Just when I thought I was okay, I can feel the saliva building up again, and I didn't have any tissues. I would have to suck in again. I was dreading it. There was no leaving, I'd just sat down. If I didn't suck in though, the drool would pool out onto my lap and make an even bigger mess...
SLURP
The class erupts into scattered giggles and the occasional jab.
While waiting for Ms. Patricia to finish calling the role, I feel a paper ball hit the back of my head. I tried to ignore it, too scared to look at whoever threw it. I feel two more hit my head, seemingly from different directions. More giggling.
Ms. Patricia interrupts the spectacle, unphased by the relentless hazing session the class had become.
"Gregory! You're up."
Scattered gasps from behind me.
You're joking. All of this and she wants ME to go first? At least I'll be able to leave right afterwards. That has to be the only plus side I can think of here.
I meekly stand from my seat and walk to the podium, instinctively keeping my head down, avoiding as much eye contact as I can.
SLURP
"There hah been maney tellingsh of the tale of Robin Hood,"
Sarah laughs loudly. The clacking my mouth keeps making isn't helping. I decide to skip ahead of the intro rap.
SLURP
" Thith ith Abdool.. He'th ow manicurshthed.."
More scattered chuckles and laugh. Someone yells "Nice straps Traffic light!"
The entire class erupts into laughter. Ms. Patricia doesn't even seem to acknowlegde it and keeps writing, as if I'm supposed to keep goings. Now the appliance is getting wound up from all the talking and it's starting to hurt.

After finally getting through the presentation I try to walk at a normal pace out of the class room. That had to have been the most embarrassing 15 minutes of my life, and on top of it all, my mouth was throbbing after so much talking. After getting through the door I sprint through the hallway towards the front. I text Cynthia on the way that I finished and to please hurry to pick me up. I get outside and try to hide behind one of the lower walls of the pathway next to the parking lot. Cynthia texts back that she's on her way. I'm on the verge of tears. I had the whole presentation memorized! If I didn't have this damn headgear locked into my mouth I couldv'e at least been coherent!
A few minutes go by and I hear Cynthia pull up. I emerge from behind the wall and fast walk towards her car. For some reason she's still wearing her headgear.
As soon as I'm in the car I let it out. I start crying and on top of the drooling and the lisping not even Cynthia and make out what I'm saying, but somehow she knows exactly what I'm trying to say. She pulls out a napkin and motions for me to open my mouth. I obediently do so and she gently places it around my top arch and under my top pallet with a smile, just like last time.

She says she's taking me back to her place, since she's got plenty more food I'll be able to eat there. I don't object, since I really just want to be with her right now. I calm down, and through my sniffling and lisping through the napkin filling my mouth, I try to ask why she's still wearing her headgear. I figured it must've been hurting her.

"Oh yea, that. I'll tell you when we're back at my place."
Weird, but I didn't pay mind to it. I was sure she was just trying to be supportive, so I didn't try to make her budge.
After we get to her place, she sets her purse down on a table in her front foyer. I can see her headgear bag poking out of it. She insists I try to eat some kind of slushie she bought the other day, and the cold feels nice, but I'm struggling to keep it from falling out of my mouth with the drool. I knew cleaning it out of the appliance was going to be a nightmare, but I didn't care, and just kept trying to swallow bits of it.

After getting as much of it down as I could, Cynthia brought me to her incredibly spacious and well lit bathroom with a horizontal massive mirror that made my headgear seem slightly smaller. She insisted on helping me clean my braces so I submitted and let her do as she pleased. She took such care of every single part, being as gentle as she could so not to make the pain any worse. All things considered, it felt nice. She was being thorough, yet gentle. It was like she was putting love into each part of my mouth to make sure it was clean and comfortable.

After she finished, she brought me by the hand to her living room, to a couch that absolutely dwarfed mine in terms of size as well as amount of pillows. She sits me down and says
"I wanna show you something."
She opens her mouth, revealing a flawless smile clad in glistening metal brackets with hot pink powerchains. She points to the ends of her headgear within the buccal tubes, and
The wire is bent through the tubes? Her headgear is stuck!
"I went back to my aunt after dropping you off and asked her to wire my headgear in like yours... I didn't want you feeling like you were the only one." She smiles and shows off her headgear straps. With her pigtails still threaded through the openings on the straps, sure enough. Her straps have the locks on them as well.
"One more thing. I want you to feel something."
After taking the napkin out of my mouth, she grabs the sides of my face and pulls me in to kiss me, slipping her tongue in, only to guide mine past my tongue spurs and towards her braces. She brings me to the top of her pallet, and,
She has tongue spurs too! but they feel strange, like they're out of place almost. I was starting to wonder why she hadn't been lisping herself.
After letting me go she open her mouth again and places both of her thumbs against her tongue spurs, turning them towards the back of her mouth and CLICK
She smiles and says
"I athed my aunt to give me thethe too.. but I wanted to thow you them firtht."
I was taken aback. Not only did Cynthia convince her aunt to lock her headgear in just like mine, but she managed to get her own set of tongue spurs left inactive so she could clamp them into place right in front of me!
There we sat, me flashing a full banded appliance with blue bands, tongue spurs, and locked in headgear with neon green and hot pink straps, and Cynthia, with hot pink powerchains, the same locked in headgear with her hair in high pigtails, and the same tongue spurs clamped into her mouth. Was she really okay with this? Not only would she not be able to take out her headgear, but she'd be forcing herself to let her tongue get jabbed and induce an unhidable lisp for who knows how long.
I know she knew more about this stuff than I did. Maybe I could embrace them.. The embarrassment, the lisping, the drooling, the stares. If she's here with me, I think I can do it. I stare at her, starting to drool herself, completely unphased by the torture devices she's just willingly condemned herself to, smiling like she loves me more than anything.

I think I can manage this.