Alternate History: 5/14, 4/2

5/14/14
 

My anxiety is too big to fit on the map. Homelessness. I’m trying to get my tooth pulled. I been clean for 3 years, I wanted to relapse last night, the pain was so bad.
 

*
 

4/2/15
 

The next day, E went to the dentist, who numbed his gumline, gave him a shot of Novocaine, pulled his bad tooth, and gave him a bottle of antiseptic mouthwash and instructions for taking care of his mouth and a card for an appointment a week later. They did this for free, because E had no money.
 

Their other patients learned that they did this and recalled that shots of Novocaine and sterile needles and bottles of antiseptic mouthwash (and electricity and replacement drill bits) cost money, so they added money to their own bills, especially if their jobs or someone else’s paid for their insurance.
 

As his mouth stopped hurting, E ate at one of the college dining halls, and showered in the gym showers of a different college. He slept in a church. Sometimes he did some work to maintain the dentist’s office, the colleges, or the church, but his body and mind were tricky, and he couldn’t always work.
 

Other dental patients made the same offers to their dentists. Electricity became cheaper as solar power became more widespread and common, but dental tools and drugs became more expensive along with fuel for transport. At this stage, Hospira, who makes Novocaine, and various manufacturers of dental tools in Germany and upstate New York didn’t know anything about the teeth of people in Rhode Island. The most obvious change was that fewer people’s teeth hurt, overall.
 

On the shore of Lake Michigan, near the Hospira corporate headquarters, algae gathered and thickened.

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