Daniel by Leah Glennon

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There’s a guy at my dentist’s office named Daniel, a dental hygienist, who has been there for a long time and is almost always the one who works on me when I come in for my twice a year appointments and I love him, he is so kind and gentle and smart, and makes me not dread the visit even though I have to go often because of my fucked up teeth, and I think he likes me too, nothing weird just that he likes talking with me, because over the years we have talked about everything, where we grew up, what our parents did and didn’t do right, what we thought we would do with our lives and how we feel about how they’ve turned out, and how there’s still more time and he always sounds so grateful and clear about what’s good and right and that the future is full of happy chances, that we should trust in good outcomes, and always, always we talk about our kids, how he is a father now, again, after so long, another couple of kids, what a thing at this point in his life, but it just goes to show he says, it just goes to show that the world is a beautiful place, that there are miracles waiting to happen, just waiting and I wish you could hear his voice when he says these things, because it is such a beautiful voice, he is from Ireland and even though he’s lived here for so long he still has the sweetest hint of an accent and his voice is so calming I forget why I am there, or that I’ve got a suction hose hanging out of my propped open mouth and always, after he is done working on me he says here they are, my little monsters and shows me pictures of his kids, two little boys, the last one of them in a booth at a diner, their chunky legs sticking straight out, wearing matching Izod shirts and pressed shorts, perfect little haircuts, all tidy and they are so cute I can’t stand it with their round faces, deep dimples, thick thick eyelashes and then he asks to see pictures of my boys, asks if I have any recent ones and I show him and he is impressed with their size, every time, woah, big guys, he says, went fast didn’t it, and I say yes, so fast Daniel, It’s crazy, and he tells me I’m a good mom, he says he can see that, he can tell and I thank him and say I hope so, I try to be and he says well, you’re doing fine, and it feels so good to hear that, every time it feels so good because I don’t think I’m doing fine, and I want to tell him how hard it’s been with my older boy, all along it’s been so hard and now he’s getting in trouble at school, how he’s angry, so so angry and I don’t know what to do, we’ve tried everything but he says it’s all my fault, everything that is wrong in his life is down to me and I think maybe he’s right, I think maybe there is something wrong with me, and now I have ruined my child, I have wrecked him and he is beyond fixing, and I can’t bear it, the pain is crushing, bearing down, always there, even in that dentist’s chair, my throat pinches, while Daniel says you, my friend, are what a good mother looks like, and I suck his words into my lungs, pump them through my veins, because maybe he can do magic, his words a spell that will make it all better, stupid I know, childish but I let myself hope for this, and just before he leaves the room he looks at me and smiles and says it’s all about the kids, isn’t it, it’s all for them and I say yes Daniel, you’re right, it’s all for them.

Meet the Contributor

Leah GlennonLeah Glennon is a writer of fiction and memoir, with an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University. She has worked as a stringer for the Associated Press in Mexico, a researcher for PBS/WNET, and as an interviewer on the film Paradise is There, with singer Natalie Merchant. Leah currently works with private clients, as a writer and editor, and on a collection of essays based on her life growing up in Manhattan, during the 1960s and ‘70s. This is the first time Leah has submitted a piece of personal writing, and is so grateful to Hippocampus Magazine for publishing “Daniel.

Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Pete

  16 comments for “Daniel by Leah Glennon

  1. Leah, I inhaled your story in what felt like a single breath. In so few words (and no periods, which worked!), you brought me into that dentist chair and let me experience Daniel’s gentle optimism and your parenting angst. Such a powerful and relatable story!

  2. This is beautiful, Leah, I hear your voice through and true, and just wow <3 You are an amazing mom and woman and a gorgeous writer. <3

  3. A diamond of an essay both in form and content. Brave. Beautiful. Wonderful to gather here and feel real. I’m so excited to read more of your work in public spaces.

  4. The setup was skillful. The stream of consciousness style was perfect. The desperateness and responsibility that every mother feels when things go wrong was painful, just as you would wish. Well done!

  5. i loved reading your words and the style of stringing them all together. i was engaged from word one to the finish! you go girl!!!

  6. Oh Leah! I’m familiar with the calling forth of the courage to share your work and am so glad that you are! Keep being brave and telling your story – the world needs it!! ❤️❤️❤️

  7. I held my breath through the reading until the tears. What mother, or dental patient for that matter, hasn’t felt such honest pain? I love your writing, my friend!

  8. Leah! I’m so touched and impressed with your work! I love your voice and style! Warm and easy to connect with. Bravo! Congratulations! Looking forward to reading more! ( I don’t know why, but I woke up thinking of you and here you are!)

  9. 💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙
    I was completely absorbed and really touched by this story You are a wonderful Mother and a great writer.

  10. 💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚and now I love Daniel too!! Enjoyed this piece Leah, I could hear your voice throughout….. loved the use of the comma, it’s a skill! The best most diligent mum I know!! 🥰

    • I started reading this, and stopped at “my fucked up teeth,” and laughed out loud, and I turned to my wife Carole and said I’m reading this piece written by my high school friend Leah, and she said, “She has a pretty smile,” cause I showed her your picture, and I said, “Yes,” and added you are one of the kindest ever, and I read Carole that first sentence, and well, don’t you know, I came to the end of that sentence, and I smiled, and Carole said, “I love it,” and I said, “Me, too,” and so thank you, Leah, this was awesome, and please please keep writing. XO

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