My middle daughter Chrissy needed braces bad. Her mouth was already entirely too compact and when her wisdom teeth dropped last year the situation only got worse. At the moment her mouth is a jagged mishmash of teeth and gums. It’s not easy to see most of the damage but when she lets people look its devastating. She’s a gorgeous young woman cursed with the jaw line of a Victorian flower girl.

            As a dad I’ve been heartbroken.

        Last fall Karen and I decided we needed to try and do something about the situation. This is not to say we hadn’t considered it in the past but this past year was the first time in the 18 years we’ve been together where we’ve ended up financially in the black. So with that in mind we made an appointment with an orthodontist covered by our bullshit insurance.

            You’d be surprised by how few of those there were.

            The establishment we chose is right across the street from my day job (at night). Seriously I could see the main drag and the tops of the buildings from the waiting room. So it was easy to find and we arrived there with time to spare. I hesitate to say I found a doctor’s office of any kind comforting but if that is possible this was the most comfortable center of healing I’ve ever been in.

            After a quick evaluation which included about a million photographs and I shit you not a 3D model of my daughter’s mouth I was ushered into an office. The lady was not the doctor. I would meet him later, but for the moment I was speaking with the patient relations person. She explained what they would do and set a timeframe for procedures.

            Then the doctor came in.

            Let’s call him Smiley McGee. This man smiled more than any human being I’ve ever met in my entire life. Not only that but he had the firmest handshake I’ve ever felt, and he is not a large man. At maybe five feet six inches tall and possibly 175 pounds he looked like he would blow away in a strong wing. Secretly I believe Dr. Smiley McGee spends his night and weekends south of the border wrestling on the luchador circuit under the name “Senor Strong Teeth” the Alabaster Wonder! He showed us the pictures and with each image I felt like the worst father in the world for not attempting to get orthodontic help for my daughter before now regardless of the cost.

            Yeah, and what about that cost?

            When Dr. McGee was finished telling me how bad it was and then showing just how much better he could make my daughter’s life over the course of two years He left and I was returned to the very kind Patient Relations Lady. She shuffled her papers and gave me that look. The look I am sure every Vet gives the family dog before inserting the needle and sending old Rex off to run forever on that farm upstate. Now that I think about it it’s the same look my ex-girlfriends always gave me when they finally got a look at my cock and realized what fresh hell they’d gotten themselves into.

            “It’s going to cost you just under $7000.00 after your insurance pays their portion” she said.

            FYI – Insurance is paying a grand total of $1000 … fuck you Anthem!

            My stomach didn’t just drop. It packed a bag, used a crow bar, and forced its way out of my body. There have been few times in my life I’ve been left completely speechless, usually I am that fucker you can’t get to shut up. This time I said nothing. I stared at her and I think she began to wonder if she should just talk to my 16 year old daughter because clearly I’d had a stroke in her office and would hence forth need watering and turning on a regular basis.

            But I did manage to collect myself and asked how we could deal with this. I was prepared to make payments until the zombies rise in order to help my daughter. I figured after the zombies are feasting on the brains of my countrymen and women medical billing will be the least of my worries. That was when she hit me with the worst of it. Payments are more than welcome but they would need a deposit before they began work. I figure five hundred to a thousand dollars tops, we could handle that.

            Two thousand six hundred and seventy two dollars.

            I wanted to cry. I am serious and I’m not ashamed to admit that. It took everything I had not to break down in tears right then and there. I wanted to throw things, break her window, strip off my clothes, and run around outside naked screaming my equivalent of “Soylent Green is People!”

            Obviously that didn’t happen.

            I told her we’d have to discuss this with my wife and that we would get back with them. I think she knew we’d never be back, I know my daughter knew it wasn’t going to happen. That was confirmed when I heard her trying to silently weep in her bedroom later that night. Karen and I worked a budget and knew we wouldn’t have deposit until next December or January at the earliest.

            It’s a hard world out there, anyone who tells you they are having an easy time of things I suggest you kick them square in the nuts or punch them in the tit. Gender kinda determines which of those you do, unless you are pissed at a Tranny but I wouldn’t them they usually have knives and aren’t afraid to cut a bitch.

            As far as we were concerned it was a dead issue until we had the deposit. Secretly I was hoping to make enough writing through March to make it a reality but that was before the situation at my wife’s job. The prospect of her losing her position and therefore us losing her insurance made us rethink our long term plans.

            I hate the word blessed.

            I hate the word miracle.

            I hate the terms “Gift from God” and “Somebody was looking out for you”.

            I am an atheist and so of course I don’t believe in god. That being said it does not offend me that others do, if they get strength from the belief in a higher power good for them. What bothers me with phrases above is the inherent assumption that GOD chose to give a gift while fucking over somebody who is just as, or even more, needy.

            The phrase I love is “The Kindness of Strangers”.

            Just before the first of the year we received a phone call. My wife didn’t recognize the number and normally she would allow it to roll over to voice mail. Instead this time she picked up and answered. Answering that call changed my daughter’s world for the better. It was Dr. Smiley McGee’s office and they wanted to know if we were still interested in getting braces for Chrissy. Of course we wanted them and had even managed to save some money towards that goal. But it was nowhere near the amount we needed for the down payment.

            Then they dropped the bomb.

            The parents of a former patient wanted to help out a child who couldn’t afford the procedure. They’d donated $1000 dollars for that purpose. The staff at the Orthodontists office decided to take up a collection and match the donation. They then decided Chrissy was there number one pick for a child to help. All we needed to pay was the $700 balance, which was almost exactly what we’d saved.

            This time I did cry. In private give me at least that much credit as a man.

            This past Monday I paid the money and the first round of braces were cemented to my daughter’s teeth. There are several more procedures to be performed as the initial straightening occurs but bow all we have to pay is $250 a month.

            These good people are giving my gorgeous daughter a beautiful smile and I will always love them for it.


       -     Josh


Josh Hilden

When I was born on August 3, 1976 in the great state of Michigan the hills shook and the sky was swept with fire. These were portents of the greatness for my future that was written in the stars ... I'm still waiting for that greatness. My name is Josh Hilden and I am many things. I am a husband, a father, a son, a friend. These are all important things but at my core I am an artist and the medium that I work in is words. I am a writer of Horror, Science Fiction, Drama, and Role Playing Games. I worked for Palladium Books ( and Third Eye Games ( before striking out on my own and founding a small press publishing company Gorillas with Scissors Press ( I also work for Fat Goblin Games ( In the everyday world I can be found spending time with my family and friends. I have been married to my lovely wife Karen since 1996 and we have six amazing children. We tend to be a family of unabashed geeks and gamers who were geek before geek was chic. If you are really interested in me I am very active online with a personal and a writing blog along with a plethora of social media outlets. If you have any questions or just want to chat hit me up!