Just an idea I’ve been toying with. First draft quality.
Maggie smiled at herself in the mirror of the old dental sales display. She was at the “Tooth Museum” as her cousin called it, where her mother, a dentist, would take her every year on the anniversary of losing her first tooth nine years ago. Officially it was the Museum of Dental Art and Science.
She’d seen the evolution of dentures, from animal teeth and wood all the way to the 3D printed ones that had embedded microcontrollers. She’d seen the exhibit on tooth fashion—braces and whitening and capping, the money makers. Funny how fashion always made someone rich. But today she was let in to the junkyard—”excess archives” they called it.
The archives were all the stuff they didn’t show you. Like her girlfriend’s comic books—she’d show off her #1 Vegetable Massacre, but her frickin’ mattress was propped up by all those boxes full of books she never saw. The excess archives were all the things they didn’t even want, but hadn’t gotten rid of. And that’s how Maggie found this old salespiece, from when dentists went from town to town.
It had a mirror, because even then sales was everything. Make the customer open their mouth and point out what needs fixing, what you can do for them. Let them see for themselves. Everyone likes to smile, and who doesn’t want everyone to like to see them smile?
Maggie wondered if it was real mercury on the mirror, that maybe they couldn’t put it out on that account. The regular archives might have better version already: more complete, better condition, or more definitive. Or maybe it just didn’t fit with enough of the exhibits to really sell itself as part of a package of curiosities to discover.
It had all these pull-out trays with little stickers to cross reference their belongings in some cabinet somewhere. The teeth on offer, the soaps and brushes and picks, those were all cataloged and kept separately.
Maggie pondered the modern version, figuring it would have a digital display where you could zoom in on the teeth. It would outline them and label them and probably report the albedo and all sorts of junk. It would have a built-in scanner, for capturing the full shape information.
She idly pulled out an empty tray, long thin slots for brushes she guessed. Horse hair? Wooden handles, surely, just like the cabinet. Straight ones, though. Harder to angle them and get a good bristle-surface contact. Still, better than just chewing on sticks. And better for the environment than all that plast—it wouldn’t slide all the way in.
She pulled it back out a bit and slowly pushed it back in, but it butted up against something on the right side. She could feel the tray want to go on the left, but the right—something was behind it. She pulled it out all the way and took a look.
Metal handle for something, she thought, reaching her arm in the hole where the tray went. Her fingertips brushed it, but couldn’t quite get there. She pulled out the tray above, and this time she got it.