When He Fell

When He Fell by Kate Hewitt Read Free Book Online

Book: When He Fell by Kate Hewitt Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kate Hewitt
the same field. Their disappointment in my life choices has always been conveyed by silence rather than words.
    I would have gone into cardiothoracic surgery just to please them, but I couldn’t stand the intensity, and the idea that you might, quite literally, have someone’s heart in your hands made me feel sick and faint.
    So I applied to dental school instead, and spent four years training to become a dentist with a specialty in periodontics at Columbia with my parents acting as if I were learning how to clean toilets. Of course, they never said that. But their silences have always been eloquent.
    The surprise for me was that I actually enjoyed it. Defaults are usually disappointments, but I’ve never regretted becoming a dentist. I like being able to fix problems, and usually relatively easily. A cavity can be filled; a broken tooth can be capped.
    Of course, there are the usual hassles: patients come in with an abcess or dentures or a need for multiple root canals. Sometimes there are worse problems, white spots or bumps on the gums that indicate oral cancer. I’ve had several cases where I’ve had to refer a patient to an oncologist. But at least I was there at the start. I don’t want to be the one who is there at the end.
    Normally, though, my day is one of scheduled appointments, fillings and root canals and restorations, along with the cosmetic work our culture of airbrushed beauty demands. I’ve said on more than one occasion that I can see the charm in a crooked smile. In point of fact, my own teeth are not perfectly straight, but I don’t have any fillings, either.
    Barbara, my receptionist, raises her eyebrows at me as I come into my small office on the second floor of a Brownstone across from Bryant Park. I’m not usually this late, and my nine o’clock is already waiting, flipping through one of the magazines in the waiting room.
    “Everything okay?” Barbara asks in a murmur after I’ve greeted the patient and go back to take off my coat.
    I nod. “I just wanted to take to Josh to school. He’s having a bit of a tough time.”
    Barbara clucks sympathetically. She has no children, has never married, and I’ve only given her sparing details about Josh because I know she won’t understand. I don’t know if anyone will understand; so many people want to either label or fix Josh, or just leave him alone. I want none of those and all of them at the same time.
    I’ve just finished my third appointment, a straightforward filling, when my cell rings. I check the screen and my heart seems to hang suspended in my chest when I see it is Burgdorf calling.
    “Mrs. Taylor-Davies?” a woman asks and I clear my throat.
    “This is Mrs. James from The Burgdorf Institute for Committed Learning.” Mrs. James, I’ve noticed, always refers to the school by its full and rather ridiculous name.
    “I was hoping you and your husband might come into the school today, to talk about Joshua.”
    My hand, now slippery, tightens on the phone. “Josh? Why? Is something wrong?”
    A tense pause. “I don’t like to discuss these things on the telephone. Could you and Mr. Taylor-Davies come in at one-thirty?”
    I glance at my watch; that’s in less than an hour. It will be difficult, but it’s obviously important and I don’t really feel like I have a choice.
    “Okay,” I say, and then, my stomach knotting, I call Lewis.
    “Why the hell does she want us to come in so quickly?” he demands.
    “She wouldn’t say on the phone—”
    “Of course she wouldn’t,” Lewis says in disgust. Lewis has never been a fan of Burgdorf and its alternative approach to education. When I first showed him the brochure, he did an Internet search on the educator whose philosophies Burgdorf is founded on, Johann Pestalozzi.
    “You realize this guy was a total loser, right?” Lewis asked me as he looked up from his laptop. “He reduced his family to poverty, he tried to farm and it failed. He started a

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