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Author Topic: story - When in Rome...  (Read 1314 times)

Offline silver-moon-2000

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story - When in Rome...
« on: 28. March 2021, 17:52:53 PM »
I am also publishing this story in the German part.

It is originally written in German and afterwards translated to English by me.  As my command over the English language sadly isn't where I would like it to be ;-), I am utilizing the help of google translate.

But as google translate itself isn't free of mistakes and since it produces "strange" results from time to time - which might very well be due to me sometimes using more "creative" grammar - I had to sit down and go over everything myself again. So please bear with me if my translation is patchy in parts and sounds clumsy and awkward ;-) and some plays-of-words remain more-or-less untranslatable


To explain to readers - who haven't read one of my stories before - what they might expect, I stole these introductory remarks from my other story:

My story differs from most of the others posted on this forum in two ways. It will (hopefully ;-)) be neither better nor worse; it is simply DIFFERENT:

Firstly, nothing happens and secondly it takes forever to finally get there ;-)

My style of writing could be described as "lengthy" and "excessive", maybe also as "boring". In other words: Everything is rolled out very thin, the tension curve in this story is quite flat. Anyone expecting wild action and hair-pulling drama will certainly be disappointed.

I just want to warn you that this story may not be to your taste!



It should go without saying that all names are fictitious; similarities to existing people would be purely coincidental and are not intended!



This story is based on an idea that I wrote down in a few bullet points more than six years ago. About a year and a half ago I stumbled upon this idea again and finally decided to develop it into this story.

The more the story was worked out, the further it moved away from the original idea. The relationship is still recognizable, but many components and ideas have changed so significantly that this work must now be regarded as an independent story.

While the core was written within a relatively short period of time - a few hours - the story as a whole was re-read, corrected and revised over and over again over a period of days, weeks and months. Yes months!

I was working on this story off and on for over half a year, until I finally lost interest and this concoction was laid to rest again for almost a year. The fact that you had received my other story "An Unpleasant Christmas Surprise" so positively, encouraged me to dig this story out again and spend another week or so finessing details. But now it's "finished", the last proofreading is completed, I am done with it ;-)

With each revision, however, the story was expanded: Here a small insert, there a rounding off comment and somewhere else a new paragraph or even a completely new chapter ...

Originally, the story was supposed to describe only one scene - what I call an "image". In the meantime it has been expanded to include an introduction and an end, the actual image has been divided into several chapters and a completely new scene - again with several chapters - has been added on top of it.

The whole construct has grown more than I believe is good for it. Some ideas are rolled out too thin, others forced in too quickly, and still others are only superficially attached and stick out like a sore thumb. The story is no longer as clearly structured and "crisp" as I would like it to be, but at this point in time I lack both willingness and ability for a rewrite.

But that doesn't mean that I do not like this story. In fact, I do; I am quite fond of what became of the original idea. There's just this haunting feeling at the very back of my head that maybe I could have done better... well... now it's too late anyway ;-)

Soo... have fun, I guess...


Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - When in Rome...
« Reply #1 on: 28. March 2021, 17:53:22 PM »
Part 1

Thursday Noon

Chapter 01/15 - The telephone call

"Yes, I'll hold." Ms. Maier covers the microphone of her cell phone with her hand: "She's fetching Dr. Mahlmann". The last sentence is addressed at her daughter Tanja, who is lying lazily on the couch a few meters away. It's definitely too warm now for more than that.

"I heard that even from HERE, mom". The assistant is an always-nice and ever-helpful woman, but she has a pretty loud voice. Regardless of whether you stand directly in front of her or talk to her over the phone; you'd always wish that she'd come equipped with a volume-knob. Of course, that's easier said than done.

"Hopefully it won't take too long, it's a long-distance call after all."

"It's not as expensive as it used to be," her father says with a smile. "I think, we can afford that. Especially when it comes to your health!"

"Haha, really dad... your jokes have been better..."

He is about to reply when something happens on the phone; his wife beckons him to be quiet.

"Dr. Mahlmann? Good morning, Maier here. It's about my daughter Tanja ... Yes ... Yes, exactly: Tanja Maier ... She bit off a bracket yesterday evening and you told us to call you if that happened... Yes, that's right ... I just wanted to check what we should do ... or whether we can do anything at all ... "

In stark contrast to his front desk assistant, the doctor speaks rather softly and deliberately. The girl on the couch doesn't hear his reply, as much as she pricks up her ears. The fact that the old couch creaks with every movement doesn't help either.

"...that's the problem. Unfortunately, we can't come by that easily, because we're not home at the moment ... We're on vacation ... In Italy, near Rome, to be more precise ... Yes, exactly." The mother laughs dutifully. "It's really very hot right now ... No, we only left recently ... Exactly, two more weeks ..."

Tanja would really like to know what her mother is discussing with the orthodontist. Or rather, what there IS to talk about to begin with! After all, what are they supposed to do? Just drive home "quickly" over a thousand kilometres one way, just so that the bracket is glued on again? Fat chance!

The doctor really can't say anything other than: "Come by when you are back home ..." And that takes so long?

"Yes, that went really stupidly", continues the mother, "If it is that important ..."

The girl shakes her head. No, it is NOT important enough for such a useless effort to be made. "I lost a bracket. I haven't knocked out a tooth or anything ..." she protests in a low voice but is ignored by her mother.

"My husband and I wondered whether it would be of any use if we went to a local orthodontist here ..."

Tanja rolls her eyes. It's so characteristic of her parents, who have the stupid habit of always taking things a step too far. They mean well, certainly, there can be no doubt about that. But that doesn't stop them from exaggerating on a regular basis. And now ... now they have once again outdone themselves with this crazy idea ... just keep your feet still, folks!

"Yes, exactly ... no, you're right ... Oh, aah ... no, I didn't know that ... Hmm, that complicates things of course ..."

"No, I guarantee you that DR. MAHLMANN isn't the one to complicate things," Tanja says quietly to herself. "YOU are the ones who always do that"

"That's right ... if you think it won't do any good ..."

The teenager raises her hand and points to the cell phone in her mother's hand, as if she wanted to suggest: "EXACTLY THAT I tell you all the time: It's POINTLESS... now don't make a mountain out of a molehill..." But her silent objection is simply brushed aside with a wave of her mother's hand.

"Yes, yes, I understand ... No, we would have to look for someone around here first ... Yes ... Yes, I understand ... Well, let's do it like that ... Exactly: If it doesn't work, it won't work ... Thank you for your time, Dr. Mahlmann. Have a nice day! "

"Really now, you are exaggerating! Tremendously!" The girl lets her displeasure run free as soon as the conversation is over. The fuss really gets on her nerves. Her parents are just behaving as if it were a medical emergency ... Don't they even notice anymore that they are exaggerating?

Only one minor mishap happened to her at dinner yesterday. She just didn't know that the olives her parents bought still had their stones ... otherwise she would have been more careful ...

The sofa creaks when Tanja sits up. "So what did he say?"

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - When in Rome...
« Reply #2 on: 28. March 2021, 17:54:03 PM »
Thursday Afternoon

Chapter 02/15 - The foreign practice

"Good luck finding a parking space HERE," says Tanja, in a pretty bad mood.

"Yes, it doesn't look very promising ...", her father shakes his head as he carefully manoeuvres the car across the small square.

And really: the area is completely blocked. Not only is every parking space taken, but in fact EVERY space that is big enough to just squeeze a car into is occupied. And the spaces in between are "stuffed" with scooters. Even for the creative driving style that is usually attributed to southern Europeans, this "piazza" is hopelessly overcrowded.

On the other hand, this is quite understandable, because in this heat everyone just tries not having to be outdoors. And if one has to park the car "creatively" for a few hours ... well, that's the way it is!

"Now I understand why Italian cars are smaller. I can hardly get through here." The father has difficulties threading the van between two parked scooters. There are only a few centimetres left on each side.

"What if you look back there?" His wife points to a street that leads away from the square.

"We won't be left with anything else ..."

"Yes! We could go back to our holiday home", Tanja can be heard from the back seat. The adults don't even react.

A few minutes later, a parking space is finally found, even if he had needed his wife's help waving him into the tiny lot. On the other hand they are lucky in that they are not as far away as feared from the house on whose door - next to half a dozen others - the sign "Dr. Moretti" is stuck.

The air waves and shimmers above the heated asphalt; as feared, the day has become extremely hot. The heat wave lives up to its reputation ... When they arrive at the practice door, all three have a few drops of sweat on their foreheads.

"So, there we are. The things we do for our beloved daughter ..." jokes the father.

She looks at him angrily. Exactly what she had feared has indeed happened: Her parents did NOT listen to Dr. Mahlmann, but "inflated" the whole matter to the point of ridiculousness. Not even a trace of "reasonable" remains, but rather "excessive exaggeration" seems to be the current motto. And that's really annoying. So it's no wonder that Tanja is in a bad mood.



She would have much preferred if her parents had simply let the matter of the lost bracket rest. They can't do anything anyway, so they could have saved themselves - and her - all the hustling und bustling ...

It is not like Tanja is having major problems with her braces. After all, by now she had three months to get used to those permanent foreign bodies in her mouth.

As with every braces wearer, that worked out in the end. The thing about getting used to them. For the most part, at least. With the exception of the first week, when everything was still new and strange, of course, she never really had excessive problems with her braces.

On the other hand, she - unfortunately - cannot claim to have ever COMPLETELY and absolutely resigned herself to her silver smile.

Not in the sense of: "I don't dare to smile anymore and always pinch my lips together so that nobody can see my braces ..." No, it is nowhere near that bad. It never was. Really not! Great word of honor!

Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say: Everything is fine as long as people just let her braces be what they are: A necessary treatment device and - in contrast to a pair of earrings for example - NOT a fashion accessory.

Braces are - in short - nothing that requires increased attention. Nothing that needs constant addressing. Nothing that SHOULD be addressed over and over again...

In other words: In every day's life, the braces no longer bother her at all, Tanja talks and laughs with them like everyone else. Only in situations like now, when her silver smile moves into the centre of attention, the whole thing becomes uncomfortable and embarrassing for her.

"Just don't make a mess out of it; if in doubt, just shut up and leave me alone, then everything will be fine ..." is her credo when it comes to braces.

Yes, OK, it's annoying that the bracket came off, but that's not the end of the world! Didn't Dr. Mahlmann say just that? The whole heck of a mess her parents are doing is getting on her nerves. Not more but also not less.



Fortunately, the practice is pretty empty. Only one boy, a little younger than herself, is playing on his cell phone in the waiting room, otherwise it's empty. And that's a good thing, because Tanja can't stand this kind of attention.

And that they - as typical German tourists - will manage to keep a low profile in an orthodontic practice in the heart of Italy is more than unlikely. It is impossible! They couldn't stand out more if they'd have worn thick winter parkas in this heat!

Comment: In the German original, our family has to talk English with the Italians, a language, neither of them is very proficient in. Among themselves they speak German of course. This being the English translation, this point becomes moot, as everything is in English now; you will have to imagine our three main persons switching between languages ;-)

To make it a bit easier on you I decided to write all text that is spoken in English in italic! Direct speech not in italics therefore is spoken in German. Or to turn the entire thing around: You have to imagine that the italic portions are in a language that YOU are only vaguely familiar with


It all starts when the young woman behind the counter - whose name is Giulia according to the name tag - "accosts" them in Italian.

"Oh, I'm sorry, I ... uhhh ... cannot understand you ..." , her mother replies, embarrassed.

Nobody in her family speaks Italian ... And as far as English is concerned: Tanja is still in school herself and can only speak some rudimentary English. Tanja understands fully well that a few years of "school-English" don't mean much. And her parents' English is ... well, let's call it "considerably rusty".

In other words: They'd have to fight their way by pointing-and-nodding. And inevitably attract more attention ... The fact that her mother has the annoying habit of wanting to explain EVERYTHING and therefore to get lost in completely unnecessary details doesn't help either.

With growing unease, Tanja watches as her mother tries to explain to the astonished assistant what happened and why they are here. And to get "lost in translation" more and more with each sentence, so that in the end nobody knows what was actually said.

Damn, it is embarrassing. A quick look around reveals that the boy in the waiting room has lowered his cell phone and is following the ordeal with interest. Finally Tanja can't take it anymore. When her mother pauses again to search for words, Tanja steps in:

"Yesterday I have lost a bracket". And should that still not be intelligible enough, she points to her mouth. "And my parents think that you can ... um ... fix it ..."

"There you go, mom, it wasn't that difficult," Tanja thinks to herself. And the assistant is visibly relieved to have finally understood what the fuss is all about. Because so far she had only been able to find out that the presence of the Germans must have something to do with olives ...

"Ah, I see. Let me get the doctor for you. Please, follow me ... take a seat ..." She comes out from behind the counter and leads the family into the waiting room. On the way to notify the doctor, she takes the last remaining patient with her, so that the three are yet again alone.

The sun is blasting in through the window, the chairs in the waiting room are so hot that all three prefer to stay on their feet. "Why did you say 'My parents think ...'" the father asks. "It almost sounds like you disagree ..."

Tanja shakes her head. "Is just the first thing that came to mind." Which is absolutely a lie, because she incorporated this little swipe on purpose. She's still a little mad at her parents:

"After all, they dragged me here, even if it is clear that the people here cannot help us... And for that I can take a little revenge, can I not? It's just the truth ...", justifying her bad mood ...

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - When in Rome...
« Reply #3 on: 28. March 2021, 17:54:23 PM »
Chapter 03/15 - The assessment

A few minutes pass before the boy from earlier - the last patient of the day - is finished and the doctor finds time for them. A tall, sporty, suntanned middle-aged man with the looks and air of being a proficient surfboarder in his spare time.

Apparently he has already been informed by the assistant, because he immediately addresses them in English: "Good day! My name is Moretti. How can I help you?"

The parents voluntarily let Tanja handle the situation: "Yesterday I lost a bracket", she repeats, "and my pare ... we hope that you can help us and ... uh ..."

Bam, now she has fallen into the translation-trap herself and is searching for words: How do you say in English: "das Bracket ersetzen?" She just can't come up with the stupid word ... embarrassing ...

Fortunately, the doctor seems to understand what is wanted of him. However, he makes a thoughtful face ... "I think, I understand ... but why are you here?"

"Ummm ...?" The addressed girl looks at him in astonishment. She doesn't really know how to answer, after all it's obvious WHY they are here ...

Dr. Moretti feels compelled to explain: "What I mean is: I'm not sure if I can help you ... You should go and see your own ... ahh ... denti ... ahh ... orthodontist! "

It is strangely comforting to find that her family isn't the only one who doesn't find it easy to communicate in English. Dr. Moretti also has to look for certain words.

Tanja only knows that the English word for Kieferorthopäde is "orthodontist" because she looked up a few words on her cell phone on the way here to prepare herself for the conversation. Such words do not appear in normal school English after all. And she wanted to understand what her parents were discussing with the doctor. She had never thought that she would end up LEADING the conversation herself ... So she is all the happier that she had "prepared" a few uncommon words.

"He is in Germany, over thousand kilometres away ..." Tanja shakes her head. Even if she would like to say: "I totally agree with you, but my parents are too stupid ..."

"Ah ... I see, that is a problem ..." , the doctor smiles thinly. "That is a bit far ..." and then adds: "Still, why do you come to me? Why do you not wait? Is it really that urgent?"

Tanja has a little difficulty understanding the question, she is not familiar with the word "urgent". By the time she figured out what the doctor wanted from her, her mother had already begun to answer: "We ... uh ... talked to our doctor and he said ... uh ... that it is important, yes ... "

Maybe it's a good thing that Tanja hesitated before answering. Even so, she shoots her mother an annoyed look and is tempted to correct her: "No, Dr. Mahlmann didn't say THAT ...", but she thinks better of it. Even if the Italians definitely wouldn't understand her, she doesn't have to start an argument here and now ...

"OK, I can understand that." , Dr. Moretti nods slightly. "Still, there is another problem:"

"Every orthodontist has his ... ahh ... own system of braces, you see. These brackets have a different form ..." explains Dr. Moretti, unsure, whom of the family to address, "and I'm not sure, if the system your doctor uses, is ... ahh ... can be used with mine, you understand?"

Tanja nods. Yes, that part she understands again. Furthermore: Isn't that exactly the same point that her own orthodontist made when he spoke to her mother this morning:

"You see, Ms. Maier," he had explained, "there are several systems of fixed braces on the market and they are not compatible with one another. You cannot just take a part from one kit and use it with parts from another to combine it to actually working braces ... it's not that easy! "

And nobody could guarantee that a randomly selected doctor will use the same "kit" ... Dr. Mahlmann had said that he was using a widespread system, but that was no guarantee that help would be easy to find ...

She turns to her parents with an expression that clearly says: "I've already told you this several times, but you didn't want to listen to me ..."

Despite their better judgment, her parents decided to just go and see an orthodontist here locally. Now they should take care of the situation; after all, it's THEIR problem!

"You are sure, that it will not work?" , The mother tries dutifully, "Our ... uh ... doctor said, that ... that it is very important, that her braces are ... uh. .. repaired "

Tanja rolls her eyes. "Mom, this is embarrassing ..." she thinks to herself.



Besides, that's not entirely true; or at least exaggerated. Yes, OK, admittedly: Dr. Mahlmann HAD said on the phone that the bracket had actually come off at an untimely moment. Especially in this phase of the treatment, the teeth move a lot and it is therefore important that all teeth move as evenly as possible. Otherwise this would open up unnecessary gaps ...

On the other hand, he had also said that there was no need for them to stress themselves and go see another orthodontist. Especially if it couldn't be assessed whether this colleague could actually do something ... Different systems and so on ...

It would have to do for Tanja to come and see him as soon as she got back from vacation. That is far from ideal, but the "damage" would not so great that it would significantly disrupt the treatment plan ... and a bracket that has fallen off is nothing at all that couldn't be repaired later ...

So he said exactly the things Tanja had prophesied from the start: The only logical and meaningful answer the doctor could have given.

But her parents - and this is typical, absolutely typical - had only heard what they wanted to hear. And they had discarded the rest. Just like they always do. But that's not all: the adults not only ignore one half, they also misunderstand the other one!

Tanja does not want to admit that she is exaggerating herself and that she probably is a bit unfair toward her parents. After all, they obviously HAVE misunderstood something:

The way they behave, they must have - for whatever reason - interpreted the earlier telephone conversation in such a way that it would have STRONG negative consequences if the bracket was not reattached ASAP. Even if Dr. Mahlmann definitely NEVER said that.

That's why they grabbed their daughter and drove to the first orthodontist they could find on Google Maps. And that without prior notice to the doctor. Without clarifying beforehand whether they can help at all. In the late afternoon, just minutes before they are closing for the day ... Bravo. Really great ... That's so characteristic! Do SOMETHING stupid quickly and then think about it later ...



"... smile for me?" Tanja almost missed the doctor's request, she was so lost in thoughts. But then she complies. Her lips part and she puts on a forced, extra wide smile.

The cheeks are getting a little redder than they already are. Gosh! That is SOO embarrassing! Here she stands in the middle of the waiting room and bares her teeth. And around her are four adults looking at her... Fortunately, there are no other patients left...

Dr. Moretti weighs his head. "Well, it looks like my system ... it could work ... let's have a better look" Then he turns around and waves to the family to follow him. The path leads them into a small room in which there is a single treatment chair. It's hot and stuffy. The sun blazes through the window here too.

"Please sit down", he turns to Tanja. She obeys with little enthusiasm. When her skin touches the synthetic leather chair, she almost has the feeling of being fused to the plastic. The metal of the armrest is too hot for her to rest her arm there.

Then he turns to his assistant and says something in Italian that the members of the family of course cannot understand. The young woman disappears and shortly afterwards comes back with several boxes from which the doctor picks a bracket.

"Smile again", he tells his patient again. Shortly afterwards he nods, surprised and satisfied. "Well, you're in luck," is his answer. His system is - apparently - compatible with the other, so he can replace the lost bracket.

Out of the corner of her eye, she sees that her parents seem relieved. "Yes? Wonderful, please do it!" , she hears her mother say.

And what does Tanja think about it herself? "Yeah, yeah... wonderful my foot! But of course mom and dad won't leave it be, so: the faster we get it over and done with, the better!"

However, there is still one thing to be clarified beforehand, the orthodontist turns to the parents with a serious expression. Tanja doesn't understand much about what Dr. Moretti says next. Too many terms that she doesn't know. She just feels that it must have something to do with money ...

But this time her parents seem to understand better what it's about. Maybe because they expected this specific argument?

"Yes, that is OK," the father finally replies. He seems to have seen her daughter's puzzled face: "We have to pay for that ourselves, the health insurance will not cover the costs."

Tanja shrugs her shoulders: "I do not feel sorry for you at all! After all, you dragged me here. So that's your problem!"

"We'll wait outside if you don't mind!", The father suddenly sounds a little annoyed. "The room is a bit small for five people ..."

This story was written before Corona was a thing ;-)

"OK," is Tanja's brief answer but secretly she thinks: "My goodness, dad! Just... just leave, will you ... It's embarrassing enough, you don't have to crowd me ... I'm not a little child anymore, I can do without your 'assistance'! "

The chair starts moving and brings her into a reclining position.

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - When in Rome...
« Reply #4 on: 29. March 2021, 16:16:18 PM »
Part 2

Chapter 04/15 - The repair

Only a few minutes pass before the girl re-enters the waiting room. "Can we go? Where's dad?"

"He already went to the car. It was too warm for him in here. Did everything go well?"

Tanja nods curtly. She has bright red cheeks and is already pushing towards the practice door.

"Is something, honey?" the mother instead heads for the front-desk, her daughter inevitably follows.

"No, everything's fine."

"Did something not work as planned?"

"No, everything is OK. Why?"

"Oh, I just thought ...", but then the mother adds another explanation: "You look somehow ... thoughtful, as if there were some problems ..."

"No, it's okay ...", the daughter shakes her head. And because her mother wouldn't let things rest otherwise, she bares her teeth for a brief moment - hopefully for the last time: Indeed, the missing bracket has been replaced, the braces look the way they should.

Therefore, some notes change hands. Tanja is certain that this money will not take the official route, but will quickly end up in the doctor's private purse. She can only hope that the assistant - who was actually quite nice - will get her fair share of it. But she doesn't care too much: the Italians have to work that out among themselves.

Her braces are fixed and that is the main thing. Hopefully now her parents will quiet down again. She just has to be careful though, not to bite off another bracket. Otherwise the whole caboodle will start all over again ...

They say goodbye with a handshake. The mother sees that her daughter is avoiding the doctor's gaze.

"Well, something HAS happened, honey! I can see that. What's wrong?", Tanja is asked again when the practice door has closed behind them.

She shakes her head: "No, it's okay ..." Her cheeks are still glowing intensely red. In order not to give her chaperone another opportunity to ask the same question AGAIN, she starts walking at a fast pace.

The father is indeed waiting by the car. Or more precisely: a few meters away, in the shade, leaning against a tree. "So? Is everything all right again?"

"Very funny, dad, haha ..."

He looks at her astonished "What's bugging you? Why are you so peeved?"

Instead of answering, she enters the boiling hot car.

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - When in Rome...
« Reply #5 on: 29. March 2021, 16:18:05 PM »
Chapter 05/15 - The discussion

Comment: This chapter is the main part of the original idea; that is, the story I wanted to write originally would have been little more than this one chapter. So, everything you have read so far and everything that comes after this chapter has gradually been added to flesh out the story.

Or in other words: If you stop reading after this chapter, you at least will have read the "inner core" of this story. That said, I hope of course to see to at the end of the story ;-)


A minute goes by, then another, and another. The father slowly manoeuvres the car out of the parking space and through a maze of narrow back-alleys back onto the main street and into the dense city traffic.

The air conditioning system hisses and puffs at the highest level in the vague hope of lowering the temperature in the car from "nuclear meltdown" to something more bearable.

They are waiting at a red light when Tanja suddenly asks: "Do ... do I REALLY have crooked teeth? I mean ... I knew that they weren't perfectly straight ... but ... are they really THAAAAAT crooked?" Each part of the sentence is a little quieter than the previous one. At the end Tanja can hardly be heard over the hissing of the ventilation.

"Where came that idea from?" The mother wants to know.

"Oh, just thinking ..." the daughter shakes her head. Her hands are playing with the seat belt, her eyes are directed out the side window.

"Pray do tell"

"No, it's okay ...", Tanja refuses. She already regrets even bringing up the subject.

"It doesn't work that way, young lady! Now out with it ...", demands her father with a smile. "Did Dr. Moretti say something?"

She shakes her head. Then, after a short pause, she nods.

"And what? Come on now, I don't want to have to extract each and every single word from you ..."

Tanja simply shrugs her shoulders without giving an answer.

Another minute goes by, then a second. Outside the houses slowly pass by; at an intersection a loud "chorus" of car horns can be heard; someone seems somehow in the way of some other people. Fortunately, it's not her father's fault.

"He ... he scolded me," she then starts to tell her story, "- well, not really 'scolded', more: asked why ... - I mean, he said that I ..." She shakes her head in annoyance and starts the sentence again:

"He meant that I ..." she licks her dry lips: "that ... that I should wear my ... my ... headgear more ..."

"Your what?"

"My HEADGEAR, dad!" she repeats, her cheeks flaming-red again. The small blemish on the nail polish of her left index finger has suddenly become extremely interesting and needs to be carefully inspected. "He wanted to know why I am not wearing it ..."

"But, honey ... I don't understand you. You don't have headgear ...", the mother joins the conversation.

"YES, I KNOW THAT!" The sentence slips out much louder than intended. "Damn it, mom, I know that as well," quieter.

"Now, dear, please do explain it in a little more detail... What happened? I still don't really understand. You don't have any 'headgear' ..." After a brief moment, the mother adds: "You mean that 'nightbrace' thing?"

"Yes, exactly, that," Tanja nods miserably. She sits so slumped down in her seat that one might think she's melted from the heat. "You're right, mom, I don't have a brace like that. But ..." again she licks her lips ... "but Dr. Moretti had said that I would need such a thing ..." She looks pathetic. "That sucks ..."

"Take it easy," says the father. "How did he even come to this conclusion?"

"How the hell should I know?", Tanja protests, "maybe because he's an ORTHODONTIST and knows that sort of stuff?"

The eyes point out of the window again, but hardly notice the "metal avalanche" of which they are a part. Finally she sighs loudly and says - addressed to no one in particular - with a resigned and dejected grin: "But I don't want something like that... that thing can go to blazes for all I care ... normal braces are enough for me ..."

"Honestly, darling, I don't really know why you're making such a fuss about it ...", the mother replies, "what Dr. Moretti says is not THAT important to you, after all.  He is not your orthodontist. .. I mean, one shouldn't ignore what he said, but you ... "

The father interrupts his wife: "Dr. Mahlmann is also an orthodontist and 'knows his stuff'. And he made no mention about you having to wear such a... brace, did he?"

She looks at her parents. Amazed and a little grateful. She had never thought of this simple fact before. "No, you're right, he didn't say that ..." A slight, relieved grin plays around her lips. "He REALLY didn't say anything about that ..."

"There you go!"



Tanja stares silently and thoughtfully out of the car window. To speak of "panic" would be an exaggeration. But the statements of Dr. Moretti had come so suddenly - and she unfortunately had been so impressed by them - that for a short time she had not really been able to think clearly.

It takes some time to get her thoughts back in order. As far as she can speak of "order" when her thoughts revolve around an unpleasant topic that she would have LIKED to ignore but CANNOT do so.

Her parents' statement helps a lot: "You are right, you are really right", Tanja finally realizes: "It doesn't matter what Dr. Moretti says. After all, I am not being treated by HIM ... And just because he MENTIONS 'that thing', that doesn't mean that I have to WEAR it ... "

She shakes her head in displeasure. She is annoyed with herself for overreacting so much. The father interprets her expression correctly:

"That's the heat," he reassures her, "that makes it harder for all of us ..." Tanja nods in relief: Making the heat responsible for her meltdown is an easy way out. She is grateful to her father for that.

Whether she would continue to be grateful if she knew what her father really thinks is uncertain: He observes his daughter through the rearview mirror: "Probably less the heat and more the fact that you are a little bit oversensitive when it comes to braces.", but of course he doesn't say that out loud.



The farther they drive, the wider the streets are gradually getting, and the fewer the houses and cars. Instead, more trees and dried up grass. The GPS guides them from the city core through the suburbs back to the campsite, a few kilometres outside the capital.

"Actually, I would have finished faster," she finally picks up the narrative again.

"Well, it didn't take THAT long," protests her father.

Now that the horror has subsided, she has no problem telling her "story". It's still embarrassing, but something almost urges her to tell her parents what happened while she was in the dental chair.

Perhaps it is the hope that she can afterwards finish with the topic and turn to more beautiful things?

"You're right dad: Dr. Moretti was really damn quick to replace the bracket." She smiles. "Well, they probably just wanted to call it a day ..."

Then she sighs. "As I said, they were done quickly. But just as I was about to get up, he held me back." Her expression darkens again as she remembers what happened a few minutes ago:

"I am not your doctor, but ... there is one other thing I want to say ..."

"'You really should wear your headgear, you know!' he said to me. At the beginning I didn't even know what he wanted from me ... " Tanja laughs a short, hard laugh. "I must have looked rather flabbergasted ..."

"Your headgear, you understand?" he then asked. And then to top it all off, he "drew" the outer bow on Tanjas cheeks with his fingers in case she didn't understand what he wanted from her. While Tanja tells her parents what had happened, her fingers involuntarily follow those of the orthodontist: her fingertips glide from the corners of her mouth, across the cheeks to just below her ears.

Completely perplexed, she had nodded, even if she did NOT understand what was happening.

Yes, she knows what "headgear" is; she knows that this is this terrible "bridle"-thing: A few months ago - shortly before the start of her treatment - she wanted to find out about braces on the Internet. She just wanted to know what braces are all about, simply to know what her orthodontist had in store for her. She shouldn't have done that however, because it was a stupid idea: she had stumbled upon pictures of people with these terribly treatment devices called "headgear":

Extremely conspicuous, certainly terribly uncomfortable and definitely absolutely embarrassing!

And they came with a 100% guarantee of not being able to hide them ... One could at least close the lips over the fixed braces, but try that with a metal bow strapped around your ENTIRE head ... NO chance in hell of keeping THAT secret ...

She had nodded because she knew WHAT a "headgear" is. But that was all. "I had no idea WHY he was suddenly talking about it. 'What does he want from me?', I thought ..."

"It is important that you wear it," said Dr. Moretti repeated. "It can only work, if you WEAR it, you understand?"

"Only now did it click for me: 'He really thinks that I have such a thing? He must have gone completely bonkers, I thought ..."

"I think I shook my head then", Tanja continues, "I don't know exactly anymore. I told him I didn't have headgear ..."

"And what did he say then?" The father wants to know when his daughter stops talking.

"I think he didn't understand me at first," she says, shrugging her shoulders. "Maybe I wasn't clear enough. I didn't get my words together... so I just told him: 'I don't have it' or something like that ..."

"And then?", This time the mother asked.

"Then? Then he said: 'Yes, I can SEE that you do not wear your headgear right now. But that is not good!'"

"Then he smiled. Really patronizing, completely condescending!", The girl is upset. "and said that he could understand that such a brace was a little embarrassing. And that he could understand that I didn't want to wear it ... Anyway, I think that he said that, my English isn't good enough to have understood everything ... "

"But your teeth won't move, if you do not wear ... ahh ... ALL of your braces. You really should try and wear your headgear as much as possible! Even if you do not like it ..." In one way or another, he had insisted again on knowing what to do with the girl in front of him on the chair.

She shakes her head, half out of anger, half out of resignation.

"And then he said something about 'motivation' and 'heat', but by then I had already switched off internally and didn't really understand what he was telling me ..."

"I then told him AGAIN that I DON'T HAVE headgear. Like, at all! And I think THEN he finally understood ..."

"Oh ... I'm sorry ... I thought that you have headgear ... You see, to me your teeth look like you ... ahh ... need headgear, you understand ... and so I thought that ... ahh ... again, I'm sorry! "

"And what happened after that?"

"Nothing," Tanja laughs dryly, "we all looked stupid. I think he was embarrassed, but - to be honest - I don't care. I was even more embarrassed ... Then I hopped out of the chair ... and you know the rest ... "

During her internet research several months ago, Tanja could not have imagined that a treatment could hold anything worse than having to wear headgear. And that opinion still holds true. More than ever.

Why?

"Really now?" Tanja doesn't know if she had ever heard such a stupid question: One look is enough! When you see how people who have to wear such a torture device look like... Then all questions as to the "why" are more than superfluous:

IT'S EMBARRASSING AS SHIT!!!

And now Dr. Moretti told her that she would have to wear something like this ... or at least he had indicated that he would probably have installed such a device on her if she had been treated by him ... Terrible! Absolutely awful!

Just the thought of it gives her massive goose bumps.

That probably explains quite well why she was so freaked out earlier: To find out so suddenly, "brutally and mercilessly" that she might have had to wear such a torture device is hard. Especially because the whole topic of "braces" is uncomfortable for Tanja, as she has to admit ...

Fortunately, a harmless solution had been found! Tanja starts to relax.



"We can ask Dr. Mahlmann what he has to say about it when we are back home," suggests the mother naively.

"Are you stupid? Don't do that!" Tanja straightens up in the car seat in shock, her eyes wide. "That's the last thing I need! In the end, he might get the idea that such a bridle would be a good idea after all ... Let it go! Just... don't do it"

For the remainder of the drive, she stares out the window thoughtfully. The fact that the air conditioning system has achieved partial success and that Tanja at least no longer feels like being broiled alive is only a small consolation.

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - When in Rome...
« Reply #6 on: 29. March 2021, 16:19:01 PM »
Friday noon

Chapter 06/15 - The cooling off

Comment: I deliberately make things easy for myself by subsuming all kinds of misalignments under the term "crooked teeth". Yes, an open bite or a massive overbite is completely different from just regular "crooked teeth". For a medical layperson (like Tanja) however, the difference is of secondary interest: Braces are needed for all of those types of misalignments and that's all that is important to the girl ...

Tanja comes back from the beach. The last few days have been extremely hot, even by Italian summer-standards. But that doesn't just have its disadvantages. Because by now the sea is just the right temperature to be able to swim practically all day long. No longer ice-cube-cold and not yet steam-boiler-hot. Just right.

The beach is just a few hundred yards from their holiday home. And since it belongs to the campsite they're staying on, this section of beach is quite full, but not overcrowded ... It couldn't get any better.

Her mood has brightened significantly again during the last day. Since then she had taken to heart what her father had said yesterday on the way back: Dr. Mahlmann had never indicated that she should wear any form of headgear. And THAT is a huge relief!

Yeah, OK, maybe - well ... probably, she sighs - her teeth are more crooked than she'd wanted to admit till now. Otherwise the Italian orthodontist would probably never have mentioned such a "bridle" ... After all, from nothing comes nothing...

But if the Italian doctor assesses the position of her teeth in this way, then his German counterpart will certainly do the same. And if Dr. Mahlmann is nevertheless of the opinion that the misalignment can be managed without this annoying metal bow, then SHE will not be so stupid as to doubt it. And SHE doesn't have to. After all, HE studied his job for years. He'll know what he's doing.

Perhaps the Italian solves the same problem with an extraoral device, while his German colleague has a different strategy. Tanja is fair enough, not to say that Dr. Moretti's treatment style would be categorically "wrong".



She cannot - and does not - want to deny that in the case of particularly severe problems, "heavy artillery" may have to be brought out. She had already learned this concept elsewhere - and internalized it:

Melissa, a good friend of hers - they have known each other since kindergarden - struggled with scoliosis for several years and therefore had to wear a corset for her crooked back for quite a while. For her crooked back? Or against it? Or to prevent her back from bending? Or prevent it from bending further? Or to bend it back? Something like that, at least.

If she remembers correctly what Melissa had told her back then, her friend had three  options: To wear this terrible exoskeleton and hope for the best. Or to NOT wear it - and then to prepare for major surgery later in life. Or to do neither and suffer from chronic back pain for the rest of her life...

Even if Tanja was not physically affected by that, even the thoughts alone of an extensive surgery with several weeks in hospital was frightening. Not to mention all the things that could've gone wrong with such complicated surgery near your spine... But chronic back pain doesn't sound too alluring either, so she can very well understand that Melissa had decided to try her luck with the corset.

But when she saw the dreadful thing, she suddenly couldn't imagine Melissa donning that thing voluntarily. That ... thing was awful. In her memory the mere thought of having to put it on had been uncomfortable. If she had been in Melissa's place, Tanja would not have known what to do: she would not have wanted to be seen with the corset - or feel the physical discomfort of it; but at the same time she would have been too afraid of surgery or a permanently sore back...

For her friend, however, the matter was clear: she had worn the corset and struggled through this time! And apparently this "straitjacket" HAD done a great job!

Yes, OK, maybe Melissa is still not standing bolt upright, but if she was able to prevent serious surgery, has had significantly fewer problems with her back since then and is also satisfied with the result, then Tanja CANNOT doubt the usefulness of such a corset, right?

And THAT'S WHY she accepts that sometimes there simply is no other way than these hideous and complex treatment devices.



Or in her case: When her teeth are a total mess, Tanja can imagine that "normal" braces reach their limits at some point and that a stronger force - like headgear - is needed to bring order to the chaos.

So far so good. Or: so far, so understandable ... because she doesn't want to call it "good"!

BUT ... the big but: Even if Tanja can see the need for such terrible treatment strategies, she still doesn't want anything to do with them. She doesn't want to be one of those pitiful sods for whom there is no alternative to headgear. It would be a terrible lot to know that at some point in the course of treatment such a torture device would be waiting for her.

But luckily she escaped that and ...

"Ouch, damn it", Tanja stops and rubs the sole of her foot. Shit, why do the damn shells have to be so pointy? That hurt! Tanja is annoyed: she should have put on her slippers instead of carrying them in her hand,. Then that wouldn't have happened ... "it's your own fault", she scolds herself ...

Back to topic: Dr. Moretti's treatment plan would have been terrible and utterly gruesome. Definitely. But probably not "wrong". His treatment would be DIFFERENT than Dr. Mahlmann's. But that's not tragic, because ...

Many roads lead to Rome...

Ba-dum tttssss ... Tanja has to grin at her own joke, bad as it is.

Comment: I understand that in Enlish it is more common to say "more than one way to skin a cat" than to say "all roads lead to Rome". But, well… this is a translation of the German original and in German the saying "many roads lead to Rome" is well known. Not to mention the fact that this story takes place in Italy in the vicinity of Rome, so basically it is an untranslatable play-on-words...

Or in her case: Many treatment strategies lead to straight teeth.

Whatever the case: BECAUSE she allows headgear to be a valid way to treat severe crowing problems, she is happy NOT to be treated by Dr. Moretti.

OK, admittedly, she's grateful to him for this small repair yesterday. He did a great job, now everything is all right again, her parents no longer have any reason to complain.

And what about herself? Well, it is a certain relief to know that everything is back to how it should be. After all, Dr. Mahlmann said the bracket came off at an inopportune time. The fact that everything has been repaired and that this one tooth can no longer move out of line has a calming effect ...

If she has to wear braes to begin with, then at least let them work properly ... otherwise she'd still have to wear braces, but they would be useless. And that would be stupid, wouldn't it?

Where was she? Oh yes ... even if she is grateful to him for yesterday, she is glad that she is not a regular patient of Dr. Moretti's. He is apparently quite friendly and helpful. Otherwise he wouldn't have helped them spontaneously and unbureaucratically even after work hours.

But he's probably pretty strict too. Otherwise he would never have asked a "stranger" about her braces wearing habits.

Just because he was of the opinion that her teeth would require headgear, he had indeed thought that she would be actually wearing such a device.

In other words, he probably installs headgear on each of his patients with a misalignment similar to her own. Tanja shudders when she imagines that he would have strapped such a metal bow around her without "batting an eyelid". And apparently he assumes that other orthodontists behave the same.

The fact that she had not worn headgear in his practice was enough for him to scold her for it. As if it had been taken for granted by everyone that she should have worn headgear ... Horrible!

The very fact that he has spoken to her about it clearly shows that it must be immensely important for him that his patients wear their braces as much as possible. And if he even addresses "foreign patients", he will no doubt make sure that his own patients comply ...

"It's probably easy to get on his bad side if I wouldn’t wear my 'bridle' as much as he wants me to ...", she shudders. And nothing in the world could make her voluntarily put on that thing ...

So it would regularly lead to tension between her and the orthodontist. And as a result, since her parents always side with the doctor, at home the "house-blessing would hang crooked" as the Germans say. "Strained atmosphere" and so on… Not a pleasant thought!



The best thing about it? She doesn't have to give a rat's ass about it, because she is not a patient of Dr. Moretti's after all. And with Dr. Mahlmann, she does NOT have to wear such a horrible device. Tanja is happy and relieved about that.

Very happy. So glad in fact that she is in a better mood than she has been in a long time.

It was really nice on the beach, but for now it's enough. She was in the water long enough, now she's exhausted. In addition, even if she applied gallons of sunscreen, one should not stay out too long... because the sun is now pounding mercilessly from the sky.

Her mother should have prepared lunch by now ... just simply heavenly: "Living like God in France" ... uh ... Italy!

Comment: Again: basically untranslatable saying. English equivalent to "live like god in France" would probably be: "living the life of Riley" but then the play on France vs. Italy wouldn't have worked...



"But be careful not to bite off another bracket ...", her father warns with a grin.

"Wow, dad, will you say that every time now we sit down to eat?"

"At least while we're still on vacation," he smiles mischievously. "Because we can't afford to go to Dr. Moretti again. We don't have THAT MUCH money with us ..."

"As I told you yesterday: it's your fault if you thought you'd had to drag me there." Tanja grins broadly. "Dr. Mahlmann had said that it would be good enough if I went to see him after vacation ..."

Says it and bites into the airy, soft white bread, thickly topped with dried tomatoes. Just to be on the safe side, she prefers to keep a certain distance from the olives from now on.

"Speaking of 'Dr. Mahlmann' ...", the mother begins, but the girl waves it away.

"No, mom, I have absolutely no desire to deal with THAT TOPIC now. I don't want to spoil my appetite ..."

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - When in Rome...
« Reply #7 on: 29. March 2021, 16:19:45 PM »
Friday afternoon

Chapter 07/15 - The reaction

OK, OK, it's the Spaniards who have "siesta". But the Italians probably have something similar, Tanja is sure as she lies lazily on the couch. This heat is unbearable any other way ... Her parents can absolutely forget about taking a stroll through Rome tomorrow in these temperatures ... A stroll down to the beach is the maximum that could be asked of her!

"What did you mean earlier about 'Dr. Mahlmann'?"

The addressed lays down her book. Suddenly Tanja has the feeling of impending doom, for her mother's expression is definitely guilty ... She terrible suspicion dawns on her:

"You ... you didn't REALLY ask him about what he thinks of headgear, did you?" One look is answer enough; Tanja's eyes widen.

"MOM! That's bull...! Why? That ... that really sucks... Oh man." She stares at her mother bitterly. "Why did you do that, I TOLD you not to tell him..."

But when the criticized woman starts to answer, Tanja waves it away: "I don't even want to know!" Angrily, she picks up her cell phone and ignores her mother's attempts to continue the conversation.

Typical! Just typical! Her parents always have to do such shit, always have to go one step too far ... That sucks! She explicitly forbade her mother to bring up THIS topic! But did the stupid cow listen? Of course not ... A few seconds of tense silence go by.

"I called him this morning, just to let him know that the repair of your braces was successful," the mother finally says. "I think that's appropriate."

"Fine... whatever! But you shouldn't have asked him about the ... that 'thing' ...", Tanja hisses.

"Oh honey ..." The mother speaks in a tone of voice that is half apologetic and half justifying. She knows well that her daughter doesn't like the subject of "braces" and would have preferred to keep quiet about it. And that she had acted against her daughter's wishes, so to speak.

On the other hand, she can't really understand why: Tanja has crooked teeth and there's no changing that. That's why she needs braces, it's that simple! Her daughter had understood that herself! Tanja is not enthusiastic about her treatment, but she accepted it without any major problems ...

And if something comes up that could be important for her further treatment, that thing should at least be addressed, shouldn't it? Even if that means that the daughter may have to deal with a topic that is a little uncomfortable to her! After all, it's only in Tanja's best interest.

Furthermore: There still is no way of telling whether her daughter actually needs such a device in the end ... She just had a simple discussion with the doctor, but the young lady is behaving again like a madman...

But what is it that is actually bothering her? After all... what's so bad about braces? More-or-less every child these days has braces ... Well, granted, not EVERY SINGLE child has headgear, but ... that's not something to be upset about, is it? Well, that dear daughter of hers sometimes is just a little bit over-sensitive ...



But Tanja is far more than that: She is pissed off, she is furious. She sits on the couch with clenched teeth and stares straight ahead. But a new feeling is making itself known. With the subtlety and restraint of a steam hammer: nervousness and fear.

So far, the topic has been just plain embarrassing. But what if there is more to it?

What if Dr. Mahlmann thinks the idea of headgear is "not that far-fetched" after all? If he says "Oh, Ms. Maier, that's actually a sensible suggestion ..." then what?

Then she's fucked ... BIG TIME! Her parents will no doubt take the doctor's side again and demand that she wears that terrible torture device ...

And that's only thanks to those stupid idiots over there who can't let a thing rest ONE SINGLE TIME. They always have to exaggerate. ALWAYS! Typical! So damn typical! Shit!

Tanja refuses to even notice her parents. She desperately stares at the display of her smartphone. But that doesn't last long. As she absolutely cannot concentrate on the game, she makes a lot of careless mistakes and loses one life after the other. With every passing second, she just gets more nervous:

She wants to know what the orthodontist had said to her mother. No, that's wrong: she definitely does NOT WANT to know. But she MUST know. She needs to know what to expect. She needs to know if her life has already been ruined or if she can still wriggle out of it.

Therefore, out of the corner of her eye she keeps looking over to her mother, who, however, has resumed reading her book and makes no move to continue talking. Finally, she can't take it anymore.

She's almost afraid of the answer, but she has to ask, she simply HAS TO... Her attempt to sound as casual as possible however fails catastrophically. "So... what did he say?"

The facial expression of the addressed does not bode well, for there is no "Dr. Mahlmann thinks, the idea is stupid" to be read in it. On the contrary:

"He wasn't surprised," explains the mother cautiously, and Tanja's heart sinks. That doesn't sound good at all ...

"What? What do you mean?"

"Well, he was surprised that Dr. Moretti had told you so directly that you should wear your braces more ... after all, you are not HIS patient ..."

"But ...", Tanja licks her dry lips, "but he wasn't surprised about the idea with the ... the 'thing' in itself?"

"No, not really", the mother has to admit: "He told me that he had already thought about whether he should bring up the subject with you."

"Nah, you're kidding, right?" Terrible! Tanja looks at her parents with big eyes. Exactly that, EXACTLY THAT she had NOT wanted to hear.

"But you're a borderline case, he then explained. In your case, this something-something ... what did he call it ... uhhh ... 'extra ... oral ... something' ... whatever ... In your case such a brace is not strictly necessarily. And because he understands fully well that such a brace is not a cause of joy to his patients, he decided against proposing it to you. Because it is - as he said - not absolutely necessary for you! "

"'Cause of joy' my ass!", Tanja rolls her eyes. She doesn't know whether to be alarmed or relieved. Maybe both:

Her teeth seem to be more crooked than she always imagined. FAR MORE crooked than she wanted to admit to herself. She always thought she had "normally crooked" teeth. Just "misaligned enough" that fixed braces are necessary. But not more. That the "truth" deviates significantly from her assumptions comes as a shock:

It appears that if she had had only minimally worse misaligned teeth, she would probably have been walking around with such a hideous bridle by now. With Dr. Moretti at any rate and apparently with Dr. Mahlmann too. Terrible thought!

But obviously her orthodontist can still solve her case without that metal bow... How did he call her? "Borderline case"? She seems to have scraped past this highly embarrassing instrument by a hair's breadth. That is definitely a cause for relief!

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - When in Rome...
« Reply #8 on: 29. March 2021, 16:21:06 PM »
Chapter 08/15 - The quarrel

Or ... or is it?

"But then he also said ...", the mother drops the bomb "... that while such an extraoral device is not absolutely NECESSARY for you, it would definitely be BENEFICIAL to your treatment ... and that you might want to consider whether you don't want to wear it after all ... "

"You're... you're not serious, are you?" Tanja's eyes widen. However, the question is only asked half-heartedly, because the answer is actually quite clear: Why should her parents invent a lie like this ... It's terrible! Absolutely awful!

"That's not ME talking, Dr. Mahlmann told me this," it almost looks as if her mother can read minds. "As he said, it would not be absolutely necessary ... But he explained to me very clearly that you can almost certainly achieve a better result with headgear and that ..."

"I don't care! I don't want to, I won't do it! He can go and kiss my ass", Tanja crosses her arms over her chest.

"Tanja! Language!", The father raises a finger warningly. She looks angrily at him - for a brief moment.

She doesn't even want to hear what else her mother has to say. She has already learned the most important thing anyway: Dr. Mahlmann does not INSIST on her wearing such a hideous thing. Everything else is irrelevant!

The position of her teeth could be better if she wears headgear? Not interesting! She doesn't want headgear! That is the only important thing!

"Honey," sighs the mother. "We don't have to rush that decision. Not while we're on vacation." Then she smiles: "And positively not as long as the atmosphere is so ... heated ..."

If looks could kill ... "Oh, child, that wasn't meant badly," the mother apologizes for the bad joke. "When we get home we still have plenty of time to come to a conclusion. Okay?"

Tanja shakes her head. "We can decide that right here," she disagrees: "I won't wear headgear! Never ever EVER! He said that I don't need it, and so I won't wear it. Full stop. Basta."

Chin pushed forward, teeth pressed tightly together, her gaze rigidly fixed on the space between her parents. Arms crossed over her chest, hands clenched into fists. Defiance mode fully engaged.

"And ... and you can't force me to do it! There ... I'm not going to do it!"

The adults look over to the teenager in astonishment: "Where did you get THAT idea? Really, honey, you sometimes have absurd thoughts. NOBODY forces you. Not Dr. Mahlmann and especially not US. That is all YOUR decision, OK?"

A second goes by, then another. Tanja nods slowly. "Sorry," she murmurs softly. She must have overreacted a tiny bit. The thought of such a torture tool was too bad ... so her reaction is understandable, isn't it? She slowly sinks back into the couch.

So the parents let her decide? That's good... because her choice has already been made. Topic closed. At least for the girl.

But then the mother makes a decisive mistake: "Just think about it in a quiet minute. I mean, if both orthodontists say that it makes sense, then it would be wise if you ..."

"That's exactly what I mean, EXACTLY THAT!" interrupts Tanja, her voice almost cracking. Her body snaps to an upright position, her eyes sparkle. The outstretched index finger points accusingly at her mother. That's SO typical!

"What do you mean?"

"You just said 'Nobody is forcing you' and now, ONLY A SINGLE second later, you say, 'It would be wise ...'"

"Oh honey, that doesn't mean that ..."

"I! WILL! NOT!", she screams, defiant and loud, VERY LOUD!



"Now, you two, calm down a little ...", the father suddenly cuts in, he sounds resolute. The tone of his voice alone is enough to bring "his two ladies" down to earth again; he doesn't even need to raise his voice.

"The next time you have an appointment with Dr. Mahlmann, you just ask him about it yourself. Then he can explain everything to you. That is far better than if everything here and now is relayed several times ..."

"That ... that sucks ...", Tanja grumbles. "I will NOT ask him; I don't want braces like that ..." It's so typical that her father always takes the side of his wife ...

Her objection is ignored. "Then he should tell you personally whether he thinks you should wear such an 'external brace' or not. It makes much more sense if he can explain to you directly what the advantages and disadvantages of such a device are. We don't know and you don't know either. "

"Yes, I DO already know," Tanja mumbles silently. She knows the DISADVANTAGES of such a torture device all too well. And she also "knows" very well that all the advantages of this world cannot outweigh those disadvantages.

"There is no point in trying to draw any hasty conclusions from the short telephone conversation. That's not going anywhere! All three of us understand far too little about the matter for that. We have to wait for Dr. Mahlmann to explain everything. OK? "

Tanja just shrugs her shoulders in response.

"We only know that Dr. Mahlmann views headgear as useful and beneficial. But we do not know whether it is really NECESSARY and ..."

He pauses when he sees that his daughter isn't listening anymore. "Tanja, you don't have to throw a tantrum like that, you know!"

"Besides, you know well enough yourself that you have crooked teeth ..." he changes the subject a little.

"So what?" she interrupts defiantly. She continues to look rigidly straight ahead. She hates this topic because she knows exactly what her father is getting at: "You know well enough yourself that you have crooked teeth and that you need braces for them... And now you're wearing braces, so why are you always so upset?" Her parents keep trying to get hold of this sore spot. It wouldn't be the first time they've debated the subject, even if it doesn't usually develop into such a row.

He sighs and adopts a more conciliatory tone: "As I said before: We leave the decision up to you, after all, it's YOUR treatment. And you are old and smart enough to make a sensible decision. But in return we also expect you to keep an open mind and to not refuse every possible solution right from the start, OK?"

Comment: Here's a nice example that google translate isn't perfect: Google translated the German sentence "Aber im Gegenzug erwarten wir auch, dass Du nicht von vorneherein alles ablehnst, OK?" as: "But in return we also expect you refuse everything from the start, OK?" when it most definitely should read: "But in return we also expect you to not refuse everything from the start, OK?" Quite a game changer IMHO ;-)

Her reply is a mixture of nodding and a defiant shake of her head.

"Not like that, Tanja! Stubbornly saying 'I don't want to' does not work here! Then you might find me getting louder too!", he warns.

She doesn't manage to look at her father. Her cheeks burn, her hands automatically fiddle with the worn-out fringes on the couch. She would like to run away. Everything and everyone has conspired against her to make her life hell! Her parents are so mean to her!

But Tanja knows very well that this would be the wrong decision: to get up now and flee to her room would be a sure-fire way to make her father angry.

"Listen to what he has to say. And think about it. EARNESTLY!"

There is an uncomfortable pause. A quick look out of the corner of her eye shows that her father is looking directly at her. She quickly looks away again.

"THEN you can still decide whether you can put up with headgear or not. OK?"

"I already know: I CANNOT!" But her protest is nothing more than a low, almost inaudible murmur.

Her father's voice has now assumed a certain undertone of sharpness, which shows that the subject - or at least Tanja's constant moaning and bitching - is slowly but surely getting on his nerves.

"I think we can all live with it for now, don't we? We do not have to force a conclusion right now; the problem will stay with us quite some time. There is still enough time at home. Can't we agree on that?

That was not a question. For him the discussion is over and done with; at this moment, his daughter would be wise not to try her luck in this confrontation.

And Tanja knows that very well. After a few seconds she nods.

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - When in Rome...
« Reply #9 on: 30. March 2021, 15:59:53 PM »
Part 3

Friday evening

Chapter 09/15 - Thoughts

In the evening, after the greatest heat has subsided, Tanja goes down to the beach more mechanically than enthusiastically. It's still rather crowded at the beach; no wonder in this weather. She doesn't really feel like bathing AGAIN today, but she has to be alone now. There is not really room for her in the small holiday home. She does have her own bedroom, but it's far too warm and stuffy there at the moment. She wouldn't have lasted long in there. And in the living room where her parents are ... thanks, no thanks!

Too much is going around in her head and she wants to think in peace. And the beach is ideal for this. Lots of people, but paradoxically, she's still alone with herself and the chaos in her head.



Earlier today, after the worst part of the quarrel had subsided, Tanja had asked her mother to explain in detail what she had learned in her conversation with Dr. Mahlmann. It had been hard for her to talk to the very person who got the whole thing rolling and who she was still pissed at. But she just HAD to know where she was standing.

It wasn't much what the doctor had said over the phone; her mother had practically nothing to report that had not already been mentioned during the dispute:

His young patient had a misalignment of the form that made him consider whether he should include headgear in her treatment plan ... But because Tanja is a borderline case and he knows that such devices are generally not well received and thus not worn by his patients, in the end he decided against it.

That's all the mother could tell. And that ... that's not a lot of information ... practically nothing! Neither one thing nor the other. Not here, not there... He did not explicitly say that she HAD to wear headgear, nor did he say that she did NOT have to wear it ... Tanja cannot do anything with THAT kind of vague information...

Perhaps that is the very reason why she was so restless in the last few hours; why she was constantly fluctuating between two extremes:

On the one hand, her orthodontist did NOT insist that she walk around with such an embarrassing bridle. And her parents had promised to let her decide. So she just has to decide not to wear that thing and the matter is dealt with... There would be no reason to be upset and Tanja was about to put the thought of headgear aside, relieved. But...

On the other hand, the doctor had EXPLICITLY stated that such a torture device would be beneficial for her. Not absolutely necessary, but useful. And can she really trust her parents - who never can let things rest - that they won't interfere in her decision? Of course she can NOT! So she HAS to expect that she might end up getting strapped into such a metal bow.

But ... but ... Dr. Mahlmann did NOT insist on ...

This went on-and-on for several hours on end. From one extreme to the other and back again. From the feeling that "not all is lost" to the blackest desperation of "her life being over". Back and forth, again and again ... Until she couldn't take it anymore, had to put on her swimsuit and march down to the beach ...

Too many different thoughts? Not that, no. There has only been ONE thing that is important to her for the last couple of hours. So no: not too many thoughts, rather too much confusion on the ONE topic. And that's not even overly complicated. It's actually quite simple:

"I don't want fucking headgear! At no cost in the world! I don't want to!"



Fortunately, there's one thing she actually is quite sure about now: She no longer believes that her parents would really FORCE her to wear such a thing. No - in all honesty - she never really believed in it. The parents aren't THAT bad. They act rashly and keep overshooting. But to positively urge her daughter against her will to wear headgear ... No, that goes a little too far. Even for them!

She had possibly exaggerated that a little earlier ... She had just let herself be too impressed by her aversion to the conspicuous instrument ... and - as embarrassing as it is having to admit it - as a consequence she went a bit too far herself ... just goes to show that she's her parents child...

But that doesn't mean that she'd have to apologize for her outburst, because - at least from the standpoint of the teenager - the adults may not FORCE her to wear headgear but they will SURELY at least swing the moral hammer if Tanja should decide AGAINST headgear.

And then with a high probability she would have to listen to sentences like these:

"If both orthodontists consider it necessary, then at least you too should consider earnestly, whether ... " Oh, by the way, her mother had already used this "gem", so there!

or

"Just think how much nicer your smile could be if ...",

or

"You already have braces anyway, then it doesn't make a big difference if ...",

or

"So far everything went smoothly in your treatment. You surely won't let it get in your way, if ..."

or her personal "favorite":

"It's not going to be as bad as you are now imagining it to be. My goodness, don't be so overly sensitive if ..."



She finds a place for her towel. Of course, she left all valuables with her parents in the holiday home. The fine sand crunches under her feet as she makes her way to the waterfront. After the heat of the day, it's almost too hot to stand on sand barefoot.

The worst part? The absolute worst?

"They are not even wrong with SOME of their stupid points!" Tanja has to admit with a heavy heart.

After the argument this afternoon, she had stormed into her room furiously, full of rage, blind anger and wet corners of her eyes. And it had taken some time before she had calmed down enough to stop cursing the adults. After all, they were well on their way to ruin their daughter's life, yes they were!

As said before, some time had passed until her anger had subsided enough to make her understand that nothing would be gained by her remaining in her absolute denial phase. Because this defiance mode does not solve problems; on the contrary, it reliably prevents her from arriving at a solution.

As long as she refuses to deal with the subject, everything will stay as it is now. As long as the headgear was nothing more than a creepy image she saw in the Internet, everything was fine. But today at noon things changed dramatically. A solution is needed NOW! Urgently!

Of course she doesn't WANT to deal with the uncomfortable subject. She would much rather lie lazily on the beach and let her mind wander to more pleasant things. But that is of no use at all, because the impending disaster on the horizon - in the form of a silver metal bow strapped around her face - will unfortunately not disappear just by ignoring it ...

Her parents WILL most certainly insist that she deal with the subject. So if she doesn't want to be "overhelmed" by braces in a few weeks, she must have thought about them beforehand.

As soon as she understood that, she really started to think. As her father had asked ... "Pah, dad can bugger off. Imagining that he knows better than myself what I need or want. Pah! He has no idea ..."

As said, it had taken time for Tanja to realize that postponement would not work. And she hated that realization.

But she also understood one thing: her father was serious when he said she'd better think about the possibility of headgear. Because HE is guaranteed not to forget the topic.

If she doesn't talk with Dr. Mahlmann of her own accord, her father would do it for her. Tanja is sure of that. And if by then she still had refused to deal with the subject ... If she hadn't come up with a battle plan by then, she would find her stranded alone! And then...

Well, then there would only be ONE suffering: Herself. And that ... Tanja laughs hard: That doesn't need to be.

So she HAD been thinking. Earnestly. With a lot of reluctance, but still earnestly! Of course, the direction her thoughts took was predetermined: How and where could she find a way out of this mess? How can she get around headgear? What does she have to do in order not to become a total laughingstock?

What if she flat-out refuses to even look at that stupid metal bow? Her parents wouldn't force her ... But the atmosphere at home would certainly be tense for quite a while. Not a nice thought!

But if she can't find another way out, Tanja is tempted to simply risk having disgruntled parents for a while. Hopefully they will calm down at some point ... Nevertheless, if another, a "gentler" way would present itself, she would definitely prefer it!

What arguments do her parents have anyway? Why do they believe that they know better which braces their daughter should wear? Why do they follow the orthodontists lead so blindly?

THAT is an important question, she realizes. She HAS to think about it ... Perhaps it is not the most important of all questions, but it is important enough: Because how can she come up with a plan to pull her head out of the imaginary noose if she doesn't know what the "other side" has in store for her?

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - When in Rome...
« Reply #10 on: 30. March 2021, 16:00:14 PM »
Chapter 10/15 - Of strongholds

Comment: Another untranslatable play-on-words: Trotzburg literally means "defiance castle". The Play-on-word with that German word emphasizes Tanja unwillingness to deal with the situation. Something that is lost in the translation as "stronghold". And my English sadly isn't good enough to make this work in English

In this situation there is one thing that is advantageous for Tanja: Her father keeps saying that she can be "damn stubborn". Most of the time he doesn't mean it in a positive way, like for example earlier today: During the argument with her parents and afterwards, she was totally defiant, had completely refused to listen. Didn't want to hear anything the parents had to say. Just... stubborn ... or "strong-willed" if you prefer.

Or, to use a picture: She had retreated up into her "stronghold", pulled up the drawbridge and let crocodiles roam the moat.

But ... at some point the realization set in that her stronghold would not offer permanent protection if the besiegers in front of the gate had the better weapons. The opponents don't even have to attack her with these weapons. Simply "doing nothing" is enough for Tanja to starve to death in her castle sooner or later.

Her parents don't have to force her to think about her braces-situation. They could easily ignore the topic completely and Tanja would still be the one suffering if she still doesn't know what she wants at the next appointment with her orthodontist.

In other words: It all comes down to this: SHE HERSELF has to find a solution. She herself has to lower the imaginary drawbridge and sneak past the siege engines of her opponents.

But once she that realized that, it helps a lot to be "damn stubborn." Now that she knows that it cannot go on like this forever, she can - no! MUST - put all her energy into finding the best possible way out.

She has to be clear about the situation she is currently in and what exactly her problem looks like. Only then can she start looking for ways out. To stay with the image of the stronghold: there is no point in readying yourself against siege towers if the other side uses catapults.

She MUST analyze what mess she is in and what options are open to her. "Ignoring" doesn't work, Tanja now knows that.

As it currently stands, there seems to be no "easy" way out; every path she sees is difficult. As far as she can see, there is no way out that imposes itself on her, no meandering path that leads her out of her misery unscathed. She'll get bloody knees somehow.

But maybe, precisely because she is so "damn stubborn", she can accept that sometimes it is just like that. That in some situations there is no easy way out. That in some situations one just has to try to make the best of a bad thing.

Back then it must have been no different for Melissa: she had only been able to choose between a rock and a hard place, between scoliosis corset and surgery. Tanja is fair enough to acknowledge that Melissa's problems were probably much worse than the one she now has to grapple with. She shudders when she imagines what Melissa had to go through before she could finally make a decision ... It certainly wasn't easy ...

"But ... But if Melissa can do that, so can I, yes," Tanja nods resolutely. It may very well be that she doesn't like the conclusions she has to draw from her own situation. But she is at least able to recognize what the logical consequence is. And then she can accept that.

Mind you: She is able to ACCEPT that this-or-that would be the "right" decision. But that doesn't mean that she can GET USED to this. Not even to mention then being able to actually COMING TO TERMS with it ...

But in order to get that far in the first place, she first has to know which way out is open to her. And she has to think about that. Earnestly! And so she does.

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - When in Rome...
« Reply #11 on: 30. March 2021, 16:00:33 PM »
Chapter 11/15 - The reasoning

And she wasn't really happy with the results. Couldn't be! After all, she had to realize that her parents would INDEED have the better - FAR BETTER - arguments, should it come to a discussion later on:

Because - if she is completely honest with herself - all she could really bring forward to her defense, would be:

"I don't want to wear headgear because... it's embarrassing."

And THAT is not worth much. It is completely understandable and even somewhat reasonable, even Dr. Moretti had admitted that. Absolutely plausible, but unfortunately of minor importance. She must - and can - see that for herself.

Tanja doesn't like to think about it, especially when compared to the arguments that the "other side" has:

The corset was certainly embarrassing for Melissa too, and yet she had worn it almost slavishly ... And look at what has become of her: nearly straight back, hardly any problems, happy with the world ...

For BOTH orthodontists, headgear would be part of the treatment strategy. With Dr. Moretti it would be a matter of course, and with Dr. Mahlmann, it would at least be within the realm of possibility. If she's unlucky, by now it may even be in the realm of the probable ... So she has to - as shitty as it is - look the truth in the eye:

The position of her teeth MUST inevitably be a complete scramble. Such a torture device is not conjured up from thin air; no orthodontist would "expose" his patients to such a device just for grins and giggles.

So her teeth ARE significantly more crooked than expected! And if "crooked" isn't the right word, then it is just some other form of misalignment ... What exactly the reason is, does not matter, because the result is the same:

Her fixed braces alone may not be enough to cope with this situation and a headgear would at least make sense, be beneficial, during the treatment ... Unfortunately, there can be no more doubt about that ...



She wades slowly into the refreshingly cool water. Objectively speaking, the sea is now bathtub temperature, but compared to the air and the hot sand it is still pleasantly cool.

So Tanja has no choice but to deal with the unpleasant "reality". Because the cat is out of the bag:

"Because mom couldn't keep her mouth shut, Dr. Mahlmann now knows that I 'found out' about headgear through Dr. Moretti. Now he definitely will raise this topic next time ..."

And even if not: Her parents demand that she talk to the doctor about the hated subject ... And if she doesn’t seek the conversation herself, her father would do it ... One way or another, there is no way around that conversation.

The only question that still arises: "Will Dr. Mahlmann insist that I need such a thing or will he say: 'We can do without!'?"

On the phone, he had explained to her mother that his patient was a borderline case and that Tanja had just scraped by it.

But is that still true now? Or will he perhaps say: "The only reason I didn't bring up the topic was because I didn't feel like having a bad-tempered teenager sit on the chair ... But now that YOU have raised the topic of your own accord, we can finally start you with headgear ... Because now, Tanja, you have had enough time to prepare yourself mentally... "

The question that everything boils down to is probably: How borderline is her "borderline case?" Or to put it another way:

What exactly does "BENEFICIAL" mean? And how much "NECESSARY" is there in "beneficial"?

At her next appointment - in a few weeks - when she meets Dr. Mahlmann, what will he say then?

"I will manage to get your teeth in line. It will just take a little longer without headgear ..."

Or is it more a case of:

"Without this metal bow, absolutely nothing useful can come of it and I don't even know anymore why I didn't start you with headgear right from the beginning ..."



She just lets herself drift and float in the water. No serious attempts to actually swim are being made, it’s too warm for that. But it's just right for bathing, for splashing around. Every now and then she looks back to her towel. Is everything still there? As said, she left valuables at home. But it would be stupid if her towel and clothes suddenly got legs of their own ...

Hopefully, HOPEFULLY the verdict will be "beneficial, but not indispensable".

Anything else would be so shit ... Because if Dr. Mahlmann should insist that there is no viable alternative to headgear, she would have a damn hard time convincing her parents that she still doesn't want to wear the damn thing.

Oh sure, she wouldn't be FORCED to wear it. She had really exaggerated a bit there ... But she would at least have to be prepared for grueling and endless discussions about why she refuses to do the "right thing for her health".

YES, that's her parents. They have no idea when they overshoot the mark again and have no understanding that some people just don't like certain topics... and they have absolutely no sense of when to shut up ...

Once again Tanja cannot and does not want to see that she is unjust herself and that her parents are not the monsters she makes them out to be. Because they're not that bad ... nowhere near "monster-level"! But she doesn't want to see that at this moment.

If the orthodontist insisted on headgear, then ... then she would be fucked. Not only would she have the doctor against her, but also her parents ... Her life as she knew it would be over. OK, that was maybe a little TOO melodramatic, but:

Just thinking about what she would look like with a bridle, made her want to sink into the ground in shame. NEVER IN LIFE would she tell her friends about it. Much less would she want to present herself to them with it. That is something that she wants to prevent, MUST prevent. She would make a total laughingstock of herself ...

"Normal braces: Fine, if I have to. My friends have them too - OK, by this point in time most of them HAVE HAD braces - but still, that's OK. But headgear? Never! For no price in the world!"

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - When in Rome...
« Reply #12 on: 31. March 2021, 16:27:06 PM »
Chapter 12/15 - Some relaxation

"Hey, watch out where you are running at ...", she nudges a little boy who is playing ball with friends in shallow water and hadn't paid attention to where he was going. He almost knocked her under water. She can see that he didn't understand her, but her tone of voice was universal enough. He mumbles something that Tanja in turn doesn't understand.

She waves at him as a sign that she is not angry and he grins back. Well, yes, international understanding made easy ... Why can't everything be this simple...

Where was she? Oh yes: "Headgear? Never! At no cost in the world!"

Since she first saw pictures of people with headgear while doing an internet search a few months ago, she knew that she didn't want to wear such a thing for any price. Never ever! Before wearing such a thing, she would rather die! No! Stop! Stop! THAT is an exaggeration. So exaggerated it's not even funny ...Sorry about that, NO she would NOT want to die because of headgear!

But to say: Before having to wear wearing such a thing, Tanja would rather forego the entire treatment and instead keep her crooked teeth! Yup! that would NOT be an exaggeration!

At least, that was her firm belief for the longest time. But to keep this conviction was also an easy thing. After all, there never was any talk of having to wear headgear.

No, actually it is wrongly worded: Because Dr. Mahlmann never even mentioned extraoral devices, the horror that the Internet images had conjured up in her, quickly faded and soon the topic was completely forgotten. And one can't really speak of having a "firm conviction" if one doesn't even think about it, right?

At most one could call it a "hypothetical statement" if Tanja had pondered that she would totally refuse if the orthodontist presented her with such a metal bow...

But since he never did that, this "fear" quickly faded ... until it came back with full force yesterday.

The prospect of a headgear has only been more than an eerie memory for less than a day and has only been a "serious danger" for a few hours.

But now that the silver bow has appeared as a dark shadow on the horizon of her life (yes, that again was a bit too melodramatic ...), she has no choice but to really think about the possibility of maybe having to wear such a device ...



Since noon today, after the quarrel, she had seriously considered what would happen if such an "extraoral brace" was actually part of her treatment. When Dr. Mahlmann would really adjust the treatment-plan accordingly ... What would happen then?

Then she can no longer flatly refuse to even think about it. She still may end up refusing to WEAR it, but if there is a serious chance that such a bridle could be strapped around her, she has to at least come up with a strategy for how to handle it.

Otherwise there would only be one sufferer: Herself. Her orthodontist would not care about her dislike, because braces, even unusual ones, are his life ... It's his job after all to pursue the "correct" treatment strategy. And what about her parents? They would surely suffer from their daughter's bad mood, but otherwise they would not be affected by it ... Her parents wouldn’t have to wear braces, but Tanja HERSELF.

No, in the end it all falls back to her. It's HER life, HER treatment. SHE has to come up with a solution!

If she had to really - that is: "really really" - deal with whether she could somehow come to terms with having such a metal bow strapped around her ... What would she say then?



Apart from occasional half-hearted movements in order not to collide with other bathers, Tanja drifts, lost in thought. Yes ... what conclusion would she be able to reach? That's a good question...

The more her current position on the subject develops, the more astonished Tanja becomes:

Since noon today, her stance on the subject has changed radically! Really! No lie! If one had told her right after the argument that her mindset would change so much within a few hours, she would have outright laughed out loud at this person.

She would never have expected the absolute denial she was in all the time to soften. She had already understood earlier that this attitude would not be the most intelligent solution to the problem. But that she could be made to move away from her position to unconditionally reject the headgear... that she had not expected!

And yet ... and yet ... THAT'S EXACTLY what happened. The changes may not seem dramatic to outsiders, but to Tanja it feels like a revolution. A peaceful revolution, mind you!

Because the "NEVER IN LIFE, I would rather keep my crooked teeth" did not evolve into "Fuck you all, I'm done with this shit", but more into a "HOPEFULLY NOT! If it can be avoided somehow ..."

And in view of the way in which Tanja has dealt with the subject of braces so far, this is indeed a gigantic change. Such a huge step forward that the girl almost cannot believe herself that she is now thinking that way.

In the few hours since the quarrel, her mindset has changed a lot more than in all the months before.

Tanja shakes her head with a dry smile. It is really amazing how much "mental blockages" can be cleared if one doesn't blindly reject everything, but is made to really grapple with a certain topic ...

She actually knew that beforehand: "Only if you think about it, you can change something. Ignoring it keeps the status-quo" But she is still amazed time-and-time-again how much her attitude really can chang in such a short time ...

As much as it sucks having to agree with her parents: Her father was actually right when he told her to think in earnest ... Of course, she will never give her father the satisfaction of admitting that ... that's obvious, right?

Of course, that does NOT mean that she no longer has any problems with the thought of possibly having to wear headgear. She laughs. Oh, quite the opposite. She has LOTS of problems with it. She still fervently hates the thought of having to wear a thing like this.



And of course she also does not accept every reason as "significant". No, on the contrary: There is only one reason that Tanja really accepts. Her parents can forget about all that hollow moral talk. That's just stupid idle talk and just good enough for the garbage bin.

No, there is only ONE SINGLE thing that prevents Tanja from going straight out on the barricades and refusing to even pronounce the word "headgear":

OK, Ok, fine, there are TWO reasons: First: She simply cannot ignore her friend Melissa who was in sort-of the same situation. Melissa's situation clearly shows that unpleasant measures sometimes really are necessary. But then they DO help in the end. After all, Melissa's final verdict was "It was worth it!" And Tanja simply cannot ignore that.

And second, more to the point of her own situation: "Dr. Mahlmann explicitly stated on the phone that the position of my teeth can be significantly improved WITH headgear treatment. Mom told me that earlier ..."

Bam, here she has a definition of "What does 'beneficial' mean?" And it even is a darn good definition:

If she understood the doctor right - or at least what her mother said ... well... if she got the explanation right, then her teeth will straighten out even without that metal bow.

Or at least they'll become "somewhat straighter" than they are now. BUT - the big but - apparently NOT as straight as they COULD be.

And if her smile is now so much more irregular than she had previously assumed, she must ask herself earnestly how "straight" her teeth could EVER be if she refuses to wear certain treatment devices ... Especially if this device was created specifically for situations like this.

In other words: If she refuses to wear braces "ideal" for her situation, what can she actually expect? Apparently, a smile "worthy of a model" has gotten out of reach.

"Or to put it another way: If I want to have a 'really nice' smile, then normal braces alone just won't cut it and I have to put up with the thought of being 'bridled up' for some time. What a shit show!"

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - When in Rome...
« Reply #13 on: 31. March 2021, 16:27:29 PM »
Chapter 13/15 - The preliminary decision

There's the saying "When in Rome, do as the Romans do ..." She only recently learned that in school: One should adapt to local customs. All well and good, that's harmless enough. And often also useful. Would have helped them to blend in better at the orthodonist's yesterday...

But isn't it absolutely ironic that in her particular case the saying has a second, much more momentous meaning for Tanja?

Should she follow the treatment strategy that she was first introduced to by Dr. Moretti - the orthodontist from ROME?

Should she resign herself to wearing headgear or should she stick to her current treatment, where she would avoid such a device?

She might be able to convince Dr. Mahlmann to continue treatment without headgear. Even if not, her parents had promised her that she is allowed to decide for herself ...

A treatment WITH headgear on one side, a treatment WITHOUT one on the other ... Damn it, what should she do now?

This is exactly the chaos that is floating around in your head: Actually, the PROBLEM can be summarized fairly easily, even if the SOLUTION is all the more difficult.



That must be enough for today! Tanja leaves the water almost sadly. She almost feels as if the waves want to drag her back and the soft sand holds her tight. The waves lure around her legs. But that's really enough for today. She is exhausted, tired, and powered-out. The sun blocker has certainly already lost a large part of its effect. And dinner soon should be ready too ...

So it really is time to head back to the vacation home. Even if the mood there - for understandable reasons - is still a bit tense.

The massive hatred towards her parents has subsided and has instead given way to a subliminal anger. Why do their parents - especially the mother - always have to exaggerate? Why do they always have to insist on continuing in their set ways and thus often cause more damage?

If her mother had just shut up talking to the orthodontist, the whole subject would have passed her by. The argument would not have started this afternoon, the mood would have remained cheerful.

And she wouldn't have to deal with the ramifications of the phone call. She wouldn't have to think about whether she could accept a headgear in her treatment ... Everything would have remained so simple ...

She slowly makes her way around the towels of the other tourists back to her own spot.

But maybe ... maybe a little TOO simple?

She had said that there was only ONE reason she accepted: That the position of her teeth could be improved with extraoral forces. BUT: How long had she known that? Since when did she understand that her teeth are much more crooked than expected and that the "normal" braces she is wearing now will probably not be enough?

Since noon today!

OK, she has known about the crooked teeth since Dr. Moretti. So... since yesterday. But that doesn't make any difference. What she is getting at, is:

She has only known for a few HOURS that the problems with her teeth are bigger than imagined. Even though her treatment had started more than three MONTHS ago ... even six months since the first consultation! She had known only for a few hours!

In all this time, no one has thought it necessary to explain the facts to her ... She is mad at her parents and especially at Dr. Mahlmann that they did not explain everything clearly enough to her at the beginning of the treatment.

She would have wanted to know that what her fixed braces can achieve is not the best. She would have wanted to know - she HAD to know - that there were alternatives to her current treatment. Alternatives that can achieve a better result.

YES, admittedly, she wouldn't have liked the alternatives. She would certainly have turned down headgear three months ago as intensely as she did a few hours ago.

Presumably Dr. Mahlmann didn't even mention headgear for THAT reason ... "Perhaps he suspected that I am having problems when it comes to 'braces' and therefore thought that he would do me a favor if he omitted such unpleasant things... "

The she laughs bitterly: "Or maybe he knew that I surely would have given him a hard time should he even have hinted at adding headgear to the treatment-roster..."

Whatever! She would have wanted to know! She had a right to know! Because now all the time she had misconceptions about what was going on in her mouth. She had no idea that her teeth were so badly positioned that such complex treatment devices might be necessary ... She had thought that at the end of the treatment she would have the most beautiful and straightest smile in the world ... And no one told her the truth ...

And that's just not ... right. It is unfair to keep her in the dark about something like that! Yeah, it is!



In contrast to what she had thrown at her mother earlier, she DOES care how her teeth look at the end of treatment.

"I'm not dealing with that annoying silver smile, only to have a 'halfway passable' set of teeth in the end. If I have to wear braces, then I also want the 'optimum'. Or at least as close as possible. "

She was always jealous of the straight teeth of her friends when they finally got rid of their braces. That was THE reason why she finally agreed to start a treatment herself: Because she wanted to have straight and beautiful teeth like her friends. Yeah!

And if there is a way to achieve this goal, then she would have liked to have known earlier. Because then she would have had time to think about it at her own pace. Then she would surely have come to a result that she could have lived with.

Maybe with headgear, maybe without. Of course, NOW there's no saying how she would have decided BACK THEN. Especially if the matter would have been explained to her patiently and in detail at the time, instead of just throwing her in at the deep end now.

The conversation would certainly not have been easy - for all parties - but had "headgear" been made a topic at the time, it would at least have given her time to think about it and work her way through to a solution.

But no, it was only now - in the middle of her vacation - that she had to be confronted with it in such an excessive fashion. Now that she actually wanted to do a lot of other - nicer - things than to deal with the topic of braces and headgear, her thoughts revolve around nothing else ...

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - When in Rome...
« Reply #14 on: 31. March 2021, 16:27:47 PM »
Chapter 14/15 - Wandering thoughts

Comment: This chapter is a prime example of an extension that was added on later. The original idea had absolutely no references to a friend and their medical history.

Well, yes: Her thoughts also return to the other girl she had already thought of earlier: Melissa. Although they have been best friends for a long time, she has felt even more connected to that girl for a few hours: they both "share the fate" of being punished with elaborate medical devices ...

Melissa's story is however a bit different to hers: Melissa had known for years that something was wrong with her back. Even in kindergarten - as Tanja can remember - she suffered from back pain. But the specialist who had finally examined Melissa and diagnosed "scoliosis", had done everything right. He probably had taken the time to explain everything necessary to the girl and the parents.

In any case, Tanja is convinced that it must have happened that way. Because there is no other way she could explain that her friend had never really made a fuss about having to wear such a nerve-racking contraption.

Tanja is fair enough to admit that such a scoliosis corset is actually a lot worse than a stupid extraoral device. And yet Melissa had taken the situation far better than she had taken the headgear thing.

And THAT can only come from the fact that Melissa was prepared slowly and in detail and that she knew exactly what would happen next. If instead she had been crammed into the exo-skeleton from one day to the next, she would certainly not have reacted differently than Tanja did in the last 24 hours ...

For Tanja, the fact that Melissa accepted her corset without much grumbling is the result of the fact that the people around her reacted appropriately. Because if that hadn't been the case, she would have had to admit to herself that she is much more sensitive than her friends when it comes to anything that could be considered embarrassing. And that she doesn't want to acknowledge.

She shakes her head. If she had been in Melissa's place... if she had been sitting on the doctor's chair, next to this terrible corset, she would not have known how she would have reacted ... She can really only admire her friend.

A new thought: Maybe ... maybe she's only thinking that way NOW? From a distance it is always easy to speculate ... Perhaps it is only because she was not in Melissa's place back then that she can now speculate about refusing treatment with the corset?

Because thinking about an uncomfortable situation is very different from actually being afflicted by it. Maybe it's the same as a horror movie? Sitting snuggled up on the couch in front of the TV is a completely different thing than being actually followed by a crazy murderer in real life ...

Having back pain day in and day out is a completely different thing than thinking that such a corset would be a pretty embarrassing thing to wear ...

Maybe the question, whether to wear that corset, never occurred to Melissa? Perhaps she was even glad to be able to do something about her crooked spine? Tanja doesn't know, she had never asked Melissa about it so directly.

She herself would have been too embarrassed to be asked about her corset - had she had to wear one - and she had assumed that her friend must feel the same way. But maybe that was a fallacy?

Because - as said before - Melissa had never really had any obvious problems wearing her "straitjacket". Of course she had said from time to time that the thing was uncomfortable because it forced her body into an unnatural position.

Stop, wrong: Exactly the other way around! The corset is supposed to bring her body straight into a natural position, out of the crooked position in which her spine was all the time ...

Hmmm, sometimes it's not that easy to tell the difference between "right" and "wrong". Sometimes the "right" solution is not the easy and simple alternative! The easiest thing would have been to do without the uncomfortable and embarrassing corset and just carry on as before. It would probably not have been the "right" solution, but the simple one ...

It was just that Melissa hadn't decided on the simple, but on the more uncomfortable route. Doesn't that mean that her friend was struggling with serious problems? Problems serious enough to warrant an uncomfortable treatment?

And that without letting it get her weighed down, because - as said before - Tanja never had the feeling that Melissa had huge problems with having to wear this "skeleton".

OK; admittedly, the fact that Melissa never had to wear this thing to school certainly helped. Tanja is sure that Melissa was much relieved about it, because school can be a brutal place for someone with a "weakness".

On the other hand, the girl never really had problems presenting herself with her exoskeleton when the setting was more private. Whenever she invited friends over or was visiting friends, she always wore her corset ...

Tanja presses her lips together: "I would NEVER dare to do something like that with headgear. NEVER IN LIFE I would tell someone that I have to wear such a thing ... Well, Melissa ... Melissa MAY be the only exception to it. Anyway ... even then I wouldn't SHOW it to her" At this moment she envies her friend for her strength of character.

She knew that she had to wear her corset adequately, she knew that she would be restricted in it. For several years! And yet she had accepted it and fought her way through this time. And apparently without sinking into deep depression.

Tanja wishes, she'd be able to cut a slice of that spunk. She would love to be like Melissa in that way. No, stop, completely wrong: she would definitely not want to have the same problems as Melissa, Tanja is glad that this cup passed her by. And she feels a pang of guilt, thinking about it that way.



Still: Tanja has her own problems: She wants straight teeth; she wants a nice and even smile and not something that is only marginally better than her current state.

That is - after all - THE reason why she had agreed to treatment in the first place. Not because her parents pushed her to do so. Not because it's "normal" for children their age to have braces. No, that's bullshit all right. The ONLY reason she has braces now is because she wants straight teeth ...

The fact that - of course - braces are used to achieve this, is a necessary evil. Tanja understands that well enough. Braces are the only way to move teeth ... Duh!

It's strange: If she had had to decide a few weeks ago - ahh no, only a few hours ago - "Ending treatment or wearing headgear", it would have been "clear" to her that she would have preferred to do without braces and keep her crooked teeth instead of having a metal bow strapped around her...

But now, that she is actually faced with this decision, things look completely different:

She does NOT want to be the only one left with crooked teeth while everyone else has a beautiful straight smile. And if she has to wear braces to do this, then it has to be that way. But then she also wants a really BEAUTIFUL smile in return too.

Especially now that she knows that her teeth are more crooked than assumed. Especially now that she knows that WITH fixed braces (but without headgear) she might not get a nicer smile than her friends had BEFORE braces ...

The question is no longer whether she wants to wear braces or not. After all, she HAS braces for several months now. And more or less has come to terms with them. THAT topic is done!

No, the thing that worries her now can be paraphrased with a complicated-sounding term that she picked up from her mother and which fits like a glove here: "cost-benefit analysis"

How much is it worth to her to want to get the "best" out of her treatment? Does she really have to have the "most beautiful smile in the whole wide world"? Especially when this "optimum" can only be achieved WITH headgear? Or will she be able to live with "only" good results if she could get around the headgear in return?

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: story - When in Rome...
« Reply #15 on: 31. March 2021, 16:28:16 PM »
Chapter 15/15 - The decision

"But ... but - stop! Stop! STOP!" Tanja stops so abruptly that a boy - not the same as before - almost ran into her. At that moment, something struck her that she hadn't even thought of before:

She has no idea at all how long she'd have to wear her headgear. She has no idea how bad it really is going to get. She has no idea what exactly is in store for her. Only Dr. Mahlmann could tell her ...

So far she hadn't given a single thought to how her further treatment would actually look like. The threat of headgear alone was enough to make her go into a panic-induced frenzy. Everything else was unimportant, only the imminent danger of making a laughingstock of herself was important.

But that is exactly what must not happen! As said before: She WANTS straight teeth. That's why she's wearing braces right now and that's why she has to earnestly consider how much this "beautiful smile" is worth to her. Falling back into her defiant stronghold-mindset is the wrong way to go ...

"Dr. Mahlmann has to explain to me EXACTLY what would happen to me if I should opt FOR headgear! For how long I would have to wear the stupid thing ... How long every day and so on! And how many weeks in total... He must explain all of that to me precisely! If he wants to install that thing on me, then that's the least he has to do! "

And maybe, if she's lucky, she doesn't even have to wear it for THAT LONG? After all, she's a borderline case, the doctor had said. Hopefully that means that she doesn't have to wear it as much as people who REALLY need heagear?

So maybe it won't be as bad as feared? She has no idea what headgear feels like. So far she had always assumed the worst without knowing what it was supposed to be. Maybe their fears were just exaggerated?

Then the prospect of a metal bow around her face would still be shit, but no longer the worst nightmare of her life ... - yes, OK, that was again a little exaggerated ...

Still, she definitely doesn't want her friends to know about it. This is still an absolute no-go. "Nobody, not even my best friend, is allowed to know that I might have to wear a thing like this. I would make a total fool of myself ... No, never!"

But ... but if it could be arranged to keep it a secret and just herself - OK, OK: herself AND her parents AND Dr. Mahlmann - knew about it ...AND if she only had to wear that metal bow in her parents flat ... then ... well then at least ONE of the numerous hurdles would be eliminated ...

And ... and maybe ... maybe it's really not THAT bad wearing a bridle like that? After all ... after all, she had gotten used to the fixed braces more or less, although she couldn't stand them in the first week. Maybe it's similar with headgear too ... Maybe it's not that bad after all? Maybe she CAN get used to wearing that stupid thing at home?

Tanja is suddenly full of vigor, almost euphoric, when she realizes the consequence: Because if she COULD come to terms with it, wouldn't that automatically mean that she would get nice straight teeth? Really nice straight teeth this time? That was what Dr. Mahlmann said that on the phone, didn't he? Wasn't her orthodontist practically promising that she would get a beautiful smile if she could live with such a bridle for a limited time?

The thoughts of straight teeth and a beautiful smile suddenly give Tanja an unexpected boost in motivation ...



"But ... but what if ... what if I have to wear it longer?" Immediately, part of her brain reports in panic. "What if I CANNOT keep it a secret? When everyone in school finds out that ..."

She sighs deeply and long. Don't panic now. Now that she is closer to solving her problem than ever before, she definitely has to keep calm NOW!

"It will never come to that," she then reassures herself emphatically. "Nobody will ever find out that I have to wear a thing like this. My parents and Dr. Mahlmann have to promise me that. Otherwise they can absolutely forget that I even use the thing once ..."

"They MUST promise me that I only have to wear the headgear at home. If not, or if I have to wear it for too long, then I'll just refuse. It's that simple. And then my parents can argue till they're blue in the face and I won't care. Yes! "

She slowly picks up her clothes. Should she put on her clothes? No, she decides against it. The towel is full of sand, Tanja shakes it out. She doesn't want to become a sand statue when she ties it around her waist. All of this happens slowly and deliberately, because she is just in the process of formulating a crucial thought:

She almost senses that she is on the verge of a decisive breakthrough. Now don't rush into anything and don't let yourself be distracted, then ... then she could really come to a solution:
   
Earlier ... she had thought about what she CAN expect if she decided against headgear. Isn't the more important question now, what is she ALLOWED to expect?

Tanja rolls her eyes when she realizes something: "Oh my God, I sound like my parents ... Terrible!" Indeed, this is a question she probably would hear in an argument with her parents:

"If you don't want to wear headgear, that's your decision, and we respect it," the parents could say, for example. "But then you mustn't complain if you don't like the result in the end! You KNOW now that you need headgear. If you don't wear that ... then YOU have to be able to live with the fact that your teeth may not get as straight as you might hope ..." Tanja can almost see her parents in front of her with a raised index finger: "Can you live with having crooked teeth?"

Tanja hisses in annoyance, which causes an older, sunbathing couple to look over at her in astonishment. Oh man, this is new: Now her parents are pissing her off, even though they are innocent this time ... but ... but EXACTLY THAT is how her parents would argue, so she is allowed to be angry at them, right?

Oh, that's all shit, especially because the point "her parents" made, holds water. She's been thinking things through long enough to realize that ... that ... damn it, how should she put it ...

"I ... I want my teeth straightened, really." Tanja pronounces every word slowly and deliberately, emphasizing every syllable. "If there really is no way around headgear, then ... then maybe I should at least try and see if I can somehow get used to it. Or not? Yes ... Yes, yes, I should! Yes, I really should! And if it doesn't work, then ... well ... then I just have to live with the result that the fixed braces can achieve on their own."

"Because ... Because Dr. Mahlmann had said that my teeth would be straight even without headgear. Maybe not as straight as they could, but they will still be straight." If she really can't get used to the bridle, well, then she'll just have to take what she can get. That means: Then she just has to be satisfied with a "good" and not the "best" result. That wouldn't be so bad either. Every outcome will be better than the situation now with the completely crooked teeth ...

"But at least then I know that I have tried..." Tanja nods, astonished and impressed by herself. She never would have thought that she could bring herself to entertain such thoughts. The prospect of such a bridle is still terrible enough that she has to fight against goosebumps. But the fact that she's now apparently ready to at least consider headgear for a while ... it's like a revolution.



And if ... Tanja suddenly pauses, flip-flops in her hands. She tilts her head. Her face makes a grimace, she grins broadly.

"My God, I don't believe it. What's the matter with me ...?", She shakes her head, grinning broadly.

At that moment, one thing became clear to her: She was thinking absolutely earnestly about the situation in which she has been since noon today. And yet her thoughts have changed radically in the past few minutes.

Today at noon she had already once thought "earnestly" about her situation. But about how she could maneuver past the headgear as safely as possible. After all, she "knew" that all advantages could never outweigh the disadvantages...

And now... now she's seriously considering whether she should give this thing a try? WOW! The advantages are undeniable and if she could manage to keep the disadvantages at bay... then it would be worth a try, wouldn't it?

If that's not progress ...

The grin gets even wider, because she has just recognized something else: Earlier, when she came down to the beach, her thoughts were only centered about the fear that Dr. Mahlmann could announce that there is no alternative to headgear.

But in the last few minutes it hadn't mattered to her anymore whether her orthodontist really insists on it. She had completely accepted that such a metal bow will appear in her treatment plan. There can no longer be any reasonable doubt about this.

Oh, after talking to her mother on the phone, Dr. Mahlmann will NO DOUBT include the headgear in the treatment plan. The only question is whether as an "option" or a "must". And even that is now only of academic interest ...

At first her thoughts only revolved around how best to PREVENT the consequences, but now she had spent the last few minutes trying to figure out how best to get the consequences UNDER CONTROL:

Whether Dr. Mahlmann insists on headgear in the end has become irrelevant. Tanja has decided, to listen neither to the doctor nor to her parents, but to find her own way through her treatment. If she decides against headgear, she won't wear it, it's that simple. But if she decides FOR it, well...

An - admittedly very narrow and winding - path currently leads her in the following direction: As long as her doctor is of the opinion that headgear in her treatment is at least beneficial, she has decided not to categorically reject it!

And since he will surely recommend her to wear that headgear ... She sighs ...

"But ..." she licks her lips, "but doesn't that mean that I ... that I am practically willing, at least as an experiment, to have such a terrible bridle strapped around my face? But I don't want to ... "

The only difference to before is that this "I don't want to" is no longer uttered with the same vehemence as it was a few hours ago. It no longer sounds like "never in my life", but rather has clear echoes of "what mess have I now gotten myself into?"

Tanja has more-or-less resigned herself to wearing headgear, at least on a trial basis. Now all she can do is hope that the effects won't get too bad ... and that her decision will stand. That she - like Melissa - will have the stamina to stand by her decision and not to upset everything time-and-time again.

As strange as that sounds, her biggest fear right now is not the fear of embarrassing herself with her headgear, but the fear that she will not be able to keep up her resolve.

No, that's wrong again: her greatest fear still IS making a fool of herself. ALWAYS will be! THAT is after all exactly the focal point around which all her problems with braces revolve ...

It's not about her teeth becoming sensitive for a few days when the orthodontist "re-tightens" her braces. Yes, that's uncomfortable for a few days, but she soon had it under control with the braces and she has no doubt that she can adjust to the "pain" caused by the extraoral addition.

No, with Tanja everything revolves around whether she can avoid the embarrassing situations. And the most embarrassing thing about headgear is to be seen with it. Duh! If she could avoid THAT ... a big problem would be solved.

But because she has already vowed to herself that she will do everything in her power to ensure that no one will find out about her headgear ... Isn't the problem almost solved?

Well... okay... maybe Melissa is an exception to that rule. She had shared so many secrets about her scoliosis-treatment with Tanja that it would be downright mean not to tell her in return about the upcoming changes in her orthodontic treatment. "Well... maybe... let's make this deal: As long as Melissa won't ask about it, I won't tell her... I know that she can keep secrets, but... I simply do not feel like telling her ... yet ..."



Tanja's fear is that her fear of becoming the laughingstock might regain the upper hand in the course of the next few days. It is basically the fear of the fear that causes her problems.

Tanja is currently sure that she can control the consequences IF her parents and her orthodontist play along and she only has to wear the annoying brace at home so that no one can find out about it.

Should that not be possible or should someone find out about her bridle through some stupid coincidence ... Tanja knows herself well enough to know that IN THIS CASE she would probably back down. And to be honest: Could anyone blame her for that?

But... even when she should stop wearing headgear, that wouldn't be the end of the world, because after all, she will still continue treatment with her "normal" braces. After all, her treatment doesn't end just because she doesn't want to be "bridled up" anymore. Nope... It is basically guaranteed that her teeth will become straighter. The question is only whether she can muster the courage for the "better" solution...



She makes her way back, the sand crunching under her flip-flops. The girl is happy to have gone to the beach again because, contrary to her earlier expectations, she WAS able to use the time to think:

She HAD brought order to the chaos, at least partially. She was able to define the problem more precisely and she feels that she is on the right track to find a solution:

"If it's not really necessary, I don't want fucking headgear! But I want straight teeth! Otherwise, I could have saved myself the troubles of wearing braces to begin with!"

Then she is forced to smile. "But I will never EVER tell mom and dad about that!"

Because if her parents should find out that she no longer categorically refuses all thoughts of headgear, Tanja's situation becomes "hopeless". Then it will be impossible to be able to somehow get out of the matter later, if in the end she should decide AGAINST headgear.



To say that Tanja is in a good mood would have been an exaggeration. But the fact that she was able to shed some of her greatest worries had a very similar effect. Or to put it another way: Tanja is full of hope that her problem can be solved.

The decision FOR headgear was probably - hopefully - the right one? Not the easy one, but probably the right one ... Tanja nods ... that sounds ... that sounds good! She smiles.

With the large bath towel swinging to the rhythm of her steps, the ONE relevant thought that will pursue Tanja in the next days and weeks FINALLY becomes apparent:

"How bad is headgear really? And ... and will I really manage to come to terms with it?"

END - There will be no further sequel

While this is the end of this story from my point of view and I - at least currently - have NO plans to write a sequel, I would be very interested in how YOU could imagine a possible continuation.

Therefore, my request to you: Please do write, whether in a few bullet points or a longer text, how the story of Tanja could go on from YOUR point of view.