To an outside observer Rey Kenobi seemed to have an enviable life. She was an attractive and gifted young professional, one of the most highly-paid and talented analysts employed at the renowned Global Financial giant ‘Organa PLC’.
Intelligent, driven and successful no matter what project was assigned to her; that was Rey in a nutshell! Co-workers and superiors alike had nothing but praise for her dedication and attention to detail.
But what a lot of people didn’t know, was that she’d put an extraordinary amount of extra effort into making a successful career for herself. Many of the analysts in her division had family connections within the company or attended renowned private schools which had automatically enabled them to get a foot on the corporate ladder. Rey on the other hand was an orphan who'd grown up on an infamous impoverished Jakku council estate. Her schooling was 'distinguished' only because she'd attended a well-known ‘rough’ academy, which had the dubious honour of being placed at the bottom of the Coruscant exam league tables.
Rey had circumvented the elitist prejudice of the graduate program and instead entered Organa PLC via an apprenticeship. She had proven her worth time and again to her managers who quickly discovered the difference between Rey’s ingenuity and willingness to ‘muck-in, compared to the lack of practical skills her graduate peers seemed to bring with them from their ‘red-brick’ universities.
Young Rey had the gritty determination of one who had always had to fight for survival and never normally shied away from difficult situations. However this did not mean she was hard-hearted.
On the contrary Rey had a friendly personality. She was highly skilled, yet modest about her achievements as well as being a little bit shy. These endearing qualities had captivated more than one of her male colleagues. But unfortunately for her would-be suitors, she was oblivious to their crushes, because Rey had one overarching fault to her character:
She was a workaholic.
Rey would be the first to admit that she was occasionally too devoted to her projects. She just didn’t see it as a big issue.
Close colleagues like her friend and fellow analyst Finn noted with concern that Rey rarely socialised with them outside of networking and business events. Finn also correctly suspected that she didn’t really have much to do with friends not connected to Organa PLC either.
She would always be the first one in the office in the morning and the last one to leave in the evening. Rey would also often skip breakfast or lunch in efforts to meet her tight deadlines.
A fine example of her pushing things too far had been when Chewie, (one of Organa PLC’s night watchman) had seen a faint glow emanating from floor fifteen of the head office at 11.30pm on a Friday evening. He’d gone upstairs to investigate, torch in hand and he’d been shocked to find Rey huddled in the darkness. She’d been working on a particularly complex report, fine-tuning paragraphs of text and creating neat and informative diagrams to complement the content of her analysis. The glow of her five monitors reflected off her glasses and she was so engrossed that she jumped in alarm when the tall, hairy guard tapped her on the shoulder.
“You shouldn’t be here Rey; it’s the weekend for crying out loud! A pretty young lady like you should be out with her friends and having fun,” he had chastised her.
“Don’t worry,” she’d assured Chewie. “I’ll be gone in about fifteen minutes; I just have to get this thing finished before I go.”
In the end she hadn’t left until well after 1am.
“You need to sort out your work-life balance Rey!” Finn would often tell her. “You’re going to burn yourself out if you’re not careful. Work to live, don’t live to work!”
Rey would just smile and nod as she always did when people gave her this advice. Pretending like she was going to heed it, but in reality she had no intention of changing her ways at all.
Illness was something else she refused to give in to. If she had a cold, she’d drink several mugs of Lemsip and carry packs of Aloe Vera tissues in her laptop case to ensure she could deliver that important executive board presentation as promised.
If she had a headache or stomach cramps, then painkillers would be downed without a second thought.
However, Rey’s neglect of her health was about to catch up with her…
It was another Monday morning in rainy Coruscant City and just like most Mondays Rey Kenobi was sitting at her cluttered desk, staring at computer monitors and scrolling through another large batch of emails.
Without turning her head, she reached out and grabbed a square of chocolate from the bowl she kept by her keyboard. Rey liked sugary foodstuffs and in the absence of proper meals she would often just nibble on cakes and sweets all day. There was never any shortage, as she worked in a large office where it was always someone’s birthday, anniversary, or leaving day. She found this to be very convenient and a great time-saver.
She pushed the chocolate into her mouth and bit down. Her eyes instantly bulged as she was hit by a wave of agonising pain!
“Mmmmf Ahgh!” she moaned and then spat the broken, melted chocolate back into her hand. She clumsily wiped her messy fingers on some nearby loose sheets of A4 paper, without caring if anybody saw her or not. The only thing she could think about at that moment was how terrible the ache was in the lower-left part of her jaw!
“Fuuuccckk!” she said under her breath and clasped the side of her face with her hand and clenched her eyes shut, trying to remain composed.
“Are you alright Rey?” asked her team manager Poe Dameron. She couldn’t open her mouth to respond to him, so instead she nodded frantically, trying to wave him away. Poe wasn't fooled though.
“I know that look Rey, I’ve worn it myself once or twice… you’ve got toothache.”
Rey tried to ignore her boss while she opened her laptop bag. She scrabbled around for the trusty painkillers she always kept in reserve for situations such as this. She took out a silver box of Ibuprofen capsules and popped out a couple of pills which she promptly swallowed down without liquid. She did this with the practiced ease of a person who relied on medicinal pain relief a little too much.
“Get yourself to the dentist Rey, you can have the rest of the day off to get yourself sorted,” said Poe. “I can handle things here.”
Rey forced her mouth to work.
“But… I have to get this report to Marketing by end of play to- owwwww!”
“I insist Rey!” said Poe sternly. “There is no way you can work if the pain is that bad. Now save that report, before I pull the plug out from that damned PC of yours.”
Rey hung her head in defeat, for once she would have to pay attention to what her body was telling her. She couldn’t remember experiencing any pain quite like the throbbing she had in one of her molars right now.
There was no way to fight off this one. The Ibuprofen might numb the pain for a little while, but it would just come back after a few hours and it would get worse if she left it to linger.
“Fine,” she mumbled and began closing down the various applications she had open on her computer.
Poe nodded in approval and turned back to his own terminal.
But the truth of the matter was that Rey’s mind was now in frantic turmoil!
What Poe didn’t know was that aside from the fact that Rey was loathe to miss her deadline, she was also petrified of visiting dentists. She was a brave woman in most regards, but she’d always had a secret phobia about dentists, dental instruments and dental surgeries in general. In fact she hadn’t been to see a dentist in fifteen years!
Organa PLC had a top-notch company health package and as she was considered a key employee within the organisation, she automatically had free access to a full range of highest quality medical cover… including dentistry. She would have to check the corporate policy and make an appointment somewhere.
“Maker… I really don’t want to do this!” she screamed internally.
The first thing she would need to do is go home and to try and calm herself.
She logged off her computer and gathered up various documents, putting them into her leather portfolio binder. She placed the binder into her laptop bag beside the laptop itself and various other essentials before finally zipping everything up.
“Maybe I can catch up on some work during the commute,” she thought.
Rey pulled on the practical brown coat hanging from the back of her swivel-chair and slinging her bag around her shoulder, she started walking towards the lift.
Finn, who had witnessed Rey’s cry of pain and the subsequent conversation with Poe; gave her a disparaging roll of his eyes when he spied her bulging case as she walked past his desk.
“Don’t even think about working remotely on Citrix Rey, please just go to the dentist and try to relax for the rest of the day,” he called out to her.
Rey turned her head and smiled acknowledgement to him before entering the lift and letting the sliding doors close behind her.
The painkillers had started to work their magic as she’d boarded her train home, but by the time Rey had reached her apartment block and unlocked the door to her flat, they were already wearing off. There was a dull humming ache which was distracting her as it started to increase in intensity.
In the end she'd not been able to complete any work on her commute journey. She'd been too on edge about being forced to face her fears and visit the dreaded dentist…
She ran through various scenarios in her mind… there had to be some way of avoiding this!
“Don’t be stupid Rey,” she told herself. “This is your own fault for not paying attention to oral hygiene. You’re going to have to deal with it.
She pulled her laptop from its case and switched it on reluctantly. She sat on the bed in her small bedroom, holding the device on her lap, waiting for it to power up fully.
Rey was mentally berating herself, for she knew she consumed far too much sugar; although it was partly to get her through her hectic work schedule.
Biscuits, sugary coffee, fizzy drinks; she ate and drank them all on a daily basis.
It wasn’t that she didn’t want to brush her teeth; it was more that she just sometimes plain forgot; especially in the evenings when she was tired from the daily grind. It was so easy to fall asleep without scrubbing the gunk out of her mouth.
From outward appearances Rey’s teeth looked healthy enough, they were fairly straight and had very little discolouration; but she’d felt twinges of discomfort even before today. They had been fleeting and she’d made excuses to herself such as: the temperature in the air being ‘cold’ or she just had ‘sensitive teeth’. Deep down though she’d known it was decay.
Now that her laptop had booted up, Rey typed in the URL of Organa PLC’s insurance providers into the browser and then connected via their portal using her company credentials. The corporate policy came up on screen and she scrolled through the various illnesses and ailments covered until she reached the section on dental procedures. In Coruscant City the only surgery that was registered was named ‘First Order Dental Clinic’. She swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat and programmed the contact number into her mobile phone.
“I can do this… I can do this,” she said to herself.
She pressed the call button and took a deep breath as she listened to the autodial. After three rings her call was answered.
“Good morning, First Order Dental Clinic, Phasma Brienne speaking; how may I help?” said a low posh-sounding female voice.
“H-hello, good morning… um my name is Rey Kenobi… I have pain in my tooth and I uh… need to make an appointment today… because um…”
The woman Phasma interrupted her.
“Are you registered with our practice Ms Kenobi?” the woman asked briskly.
“Well no…well kind of, your clinic is listed on my employer’s dental plan and…”
“We cannot book treatments for new clients without them first seeing a dentist for an examination. I’m afraid at such short notice we have no free examination slots this week. Our specialists are very much in demand and we normally recommend you make an appointment at least one month in advance,” Phasma said curtly.
“Oh… well, I thought if I was in pain that y-you…,” she could not finish her sentence and she was starting to sweat, she couldn’t deal with this kind of rudeness when she was so nervous already.
Phasma, whom Rey assumed was the clinic receptionist; seemed to pause after she heard Rey’s flustered words. She suddenly started being a bit more helpful…
“One of our leading dentists will sometimes makes concessions for urgent treatments… depending on whether or not they meet certain conditions. I’ll need to ask a few personal questions first to see if you meet the criteria, are you OK with that?”
Rey could feel the pain coming back in earnest now and she just wanted to get this whole ordeal over with as quickly as possible.
“Yes… it’s fine,” confirmed Rey.
“Are you registered with any other dental practices at the moment?“
“No,” she stated
“When was the last time you saw a dental practitioner or orthodontist?”
Rey cringed as she admitted the truth “F-fifteen years, I was just a kid… I don’t recall the n-name of the dentist...”
A particularly nasty jolt of pain suddenly wracked her skull and Rey hoped she could wrap the call up soon.
“Thank-you Ms Kenobi, please can you tell me your ethnicity, age and the city or town written on your birth certificate.”
“I’m white, twenty-six and from… Jakku,” she said the last name quickly. She hated herself for it, but she always felt a little ashamed to admit she was from such a notorious shithole, especially to snooty receptionists.
“Alright, now can you please describe your appearance for me?”
W-what?” stuttered Rey. “What do you mean?"
“We need to know how to recognise you. The clinic must protect itself from individuals who turn up for other people’s appointments as well as insurance fraud and the like,” Phasma explained in the same business-like tone. “Now would you say your build is slim or large?”
It felt weird to be asked this sort of question, but she hadn’t seen a dentist for so long and perhaps this was all standard practice and she was just acting like an ignorant idiot from Jakku.
“Well I guess I’m slim, medium height…”
“What colour hair do you have, would you say it’s long or short?”
“It’s long and dark brown, shoulder-length, but I often tie it up”
This seemed a little excessive, but Rey answered nonetheless. “They’re kind of green-brown… hazel I suppose.”
“Thank-you Ms Kenobi that should be enough information. Now I think you’ve already mentioned that you are suffering with some pain at the moment. Would I be correct in assuming that you also suffer from… anxiety when it comes to dental procedures?”
Rey hated to own up to any sort of weakness, but there was no point in hiding her phobia. It was obvious the receptionist had caught on to it just by talking on the phone. It would certainly be written all over her face as soon as she stepped into the surgery.
“Y-yes, s-sorry, will that be a problem?” asked Rey awkwardly, thinking perhaps this call may have been a waste of time after all.
“Oh no… I’m sure it won’t be,” said the receptionist with a strange hint of mirth in her tone.
“I just have to run these details by our dentist to see if he can fit you in today. “One moment please, while I put you on hold.” Rey heard a click before being treated to some classical Naboo symphonies to listen to while she waited.
Rey used this opportunity to put her mobile on speaker phone. She was starting hyperventilate just from trying to make this wretched appointment. She leapt off her bed and ran into the nearby bathroom.
Opening the small mirrored cabinet above the sink, she looked through the various cosmetics and medication she’d collected and forgotten over the years… but there was nothing in there that would help calm her nerves.
However she did find some ibuprofen with added codeine, which would provide a little extra pain relief compared to what she’d taken earlier. The capsules were slightly larger too and would require liquid to swallow them this time.
She turned on the cold tap and water gushed out into the basin. Taking two pills out of the blister pack, she placed one on her tongue before sticking her mouth under the tap and taking a large gulp to help swallow it down. She did the same for the second pill. As the cold water swished on her bad tooth she winced at the pain it caused.
She went back into the bedroom and sat back on her bed just as the music on the phone abruptly cut off and the receptionist Phasma started talking again. Rey did not bother to turn off the speaker phone.
“Good news Ms Kenobi, we can indeed book you in today. Our leading dentist Kylo Ren reviewed your details in conjunction with your past records and he would very much like you to come in and see him as soon as possible, would 4pm be suitable for you?”
It seemed to Rey that the manner of the receptionist was a bit more respectful since she’d spoken to this dentist ‘Kylo Ren’.
“Yes, that would be great, thank-you,” replied Rey.
Within her mind though she was instead shouting “No it’s not great, I would rather go anywhere than to your stupid dental clinic! I’m fucking scared, you snobby cow."
“Wonderful we look forward to seeing you in a few hours then”