... I fled from the island very close to tears, the pain, the not knowing how or where to go to get something done about it, the knowing that I was thousands of kilometers away from anywhere without transport, the unhelpfulness of the islanders - my hosts, their aggression... It was all a bit too much.
Travis, the fisherman, let me sit to myself with my thoughts for a bit. After we were a little way away he said "Don't worry about it. They'll get over it." consolingly, I got up and joined him at the helm saying, as I fought back tears of frustration and pain "I'm not fussed about that! I'll never see them again anyway, it's their issue." and then forlornly, "I just want this tooth to stop hurting and I don't know where to go..." a tear rushed out of my eye and my throat choked. Not a bit alarmed at this crying pommie in his boat Travis assured me that the lady who ran the backpackers lodge would help me sort it out. And then he told me about the Korean fella who had cycled up from Perth and was en route to Darwin when one of his tyres had buckled, she'd (he couldn't remember her name) ordered the parts for him and ordered more parts when he'd realised he hadn't got the right tools, she'd even picked them up and brought them back for him. I smiled, the Korean was a young man called Jin. As he'd left the hostel (the day I arrived) he'd brought me a cup of wheatbuck tea and then given me a painted fan.
As we came closer to the mainland I was again gripped with sea sickness. Tucking my hair into the back of my collar I lent over the boat and was hit in the face with my spit as soon as it left my mouth. Disgusted, I lent further overboard and caught the salty spray to wash it off.
Standing on the wooden pier was a man who resembled Travis, this must be one of his four brothers I thought. Indeed, it was. As Travis recounted my tales of woe at the hands of the islanders his brother laughed and said that "She's a bit of a hard one to get on with. They've changed over there. Not at all like how they used to be." The brothers uniformly agreed that it was 'Island Fever'. According to the brother there was a dentist truck in town and if I was lucky I might catch it. It was leaving soon, today or tomorrow, he wasn't sure which. I carted my stuff back to Bay Lodge and Caroline opened the door to receive me with surprise in her eyes, "I thought you were on the island! What happened?" I briefly summed up all that had happened, of which I have told you dear reader not even a little, and came to the crux; the dentist van, was it still in town? A short phone call later it was not, they had left an hour ago. "That's okay," said Caroline, "Tara is going to Carnarvon tomorrow and if the dentist there can't see you I can take you to Geraldton on Sunday, there are loads there."
It was all arranged. The one and only dentist in Carnarvon, who operates between 8am and 1pm, would see me. Tara collected me with a friend of hers and a baby boy in tow and off we sped past seemingly endless bush and red dust. There is only one road in and out of Shark Bay, it is some 200 or so kilometers and all it consists of is bush and red dust. There is something fascinating and hypnotic about the vastness and green and redness of the long winding road. I gazed out of the window in a sort of trance, unsure of whether the feeling could be attributed to the bush or to the all encompassing numbing pain in my upper left jaw that was gradually creeping its way down to my lower jaw - so much so that by the time we arrived at the dentist I could no longer tell where the pain was coming from and when I was asked to be certain I could not rely on memory alone and so inserted a finger and pushed hard on the bottom tooth, some pain. I pushed hard on the top tooth and, with an ill concealed shout of pain, I assured the good dentist that it was without any shadow of a doubt my top tooth. And yes, I was sure I wanted it removed.
A nasty tasting numbing agent in gel form was clenched between my teeth, a few moments later a needle pinched my cheek and then it jabbed and burrowed into the roof of my mouth. A pair of dentistry pliers was used to loosen the tooth. A few strong and concerted efforts of pushing and pulling and I was sure that he would knock the rest of the teeth out by domino effect alone! A larger pair of pliers were put into action and within what can't have been more than five minutes from start to finish there was the little blighter. The cause of all my agony and the islanders angst at my leaving them without warning. All of an inch and gleaming white. Something told me that the islanders didn't believe in my toothache. I was sorely tempted to take the tooth. To put it an envelope and mark it with "See!" but I was told that I could not have my tooth. My tooth, after being inside my mouth for some dozen and more years, was, now that it was outside my mouth, a bio hazard.
I left the dentist's office still picturing the islanders faces upon receiving my tooth in the post. Perhaps I could send them the dentists bill instead? No. It doesn't quite illicit the same response does it. I sat on the grassy verge and waited for Tara to come back for me.