Charlie’s Room: Dot-to-Dot
Isaac was waiting at the dentist office. He liked to think that waiting was unusual for appointments like this, but they had a whole room just for waiting. Apparently, the wait was built-in.
Strangely, despite the built-in wait, he was asked to arrive a half hour early in order to fill out paperwork that took less than ten minutes to complete. With that distraction out of the way, there was nothing else to do. This waiting room had no magazines or framed maps or charts or little wooden puzzles or coloring books.
Isaac thought sadly about the book he was reading. It was at home, on the bookshelf in Charlie’s room. He set it down when he checked Charlie’s homework yesterday afternoon. If only he could call it here by wishing hard enough…
Nope. That didn’t work.
He sighed and looked around at the blank walls. There was one other person waiting. A tall woman with curly gray hair was flipping through a newspaper with a pencil in her hand. She looked up. “Didn’t you bring anything to do? You always have to wait for these appointments.”
Isaac shrugged. “I guess I forgot. My last dentist had magazines to look at.”
The woman looked around the waiting room. “Magazines would be nice. They need something.”
Isaac nodded. “How long do you usually have to wait?”
That couldn’t be right. “Including the half hour before your appointment?”
The woman laughed. “No, an hour after your appointment is supposed to start. And if you come late, you lose your spot in line and you have to wait even longer.”
There had to be a silver lining to this somewhere. “The dentist must be amazing if people are willing to wait that long.”
“Nope. Just a little bit cheaper than the others. Maybe it’s because she isn’t spending money on magazines for the waiting room.” The woman looked down at her newspaper and shuffled through the sections. She held one out to Isaac. “Here. I never read the sports section. You can have that.”
“Thank you.” Isaac almost hugged the newspaper to his chest. Something to do!
A half hour later, he’d read through the sports section three times. The woman had left with the rest of the newspaper. With nothing else to do, he flipped back to page one. Before he started reading again, he scanned the room for something else to do.
Across the room, there was a red pencil under one of the chairs. He picked it up and sat back down. There wasn’t a crossword puzzle or a word search in the sports section, but surely he could think of something else to do besides read the articles a fourth time.
He looked down at the page and smiled. He could play dot-to-dot with the periods at the end of the sentences. It would be like building his own constellations.
He randomly connected dots on the first article. It looked a little like a skinny fish with an extra fin. Isaac smiled and turned it sideways. There. Now it was an asymmetrical pineapple.
Turning the page, he started connecting dots again. This time he ended up with a skinny squirrel with a fat tail. Or maybe it was a person with a little dinosaur sitting on their back. Hmmmm.
He was halfway through the sports section when they called him back for his appointment. He considered taking the paper and pencil with him, but in the end he offered them to the young man who had just walked in.
There wasn’t time to explain the dot-to-dot game, but Isaac was pretty sure he’d figure it out. If not, he could always read all the articles. It was better than staring at the walls anyways.
Isaac didn’t have any cavities, and the appointment was short. Driving home, he thought about his dot-to-dot game and constellations. Who first drew the imaginary dot-to-dots in the sky? Were they waiting for something?
Suddenly, he somehow remembered the meteor shower that they stayed up to watch last summer. Was that a giant dot-to-dot game? Who was playing it? What were they drawing? What were they waiting for?
Next meteor shower, he could draw a map of the sky and play along. But even if he was in the right place to see the pictures as they were meant to be seen, would they be pictures of something he’d recognize? It might be nice to find out.
“How was the dentist?” Charlie asked when Isaac got home. “I have to go next week. Was it terrible?”
Isaac smiled. “It wasn’t bad. You might want to bring something to do while you wait.”
“Like what? What did you do?”
“I did a dot-to-dot game, but you might want to bring a book.” Isaac hung up his coat.
“If you’re done with the one you’re reading, I’ll bring that one,” Charlie said. “It looks interesting. I read the first chapter while you were gone. It fell off the bookshelf while I was doing my homework. Maybe it really wanted someone to read it.”