Friday, May 31, 2013

"The Toothbrush" by Lola Lane

I awoke in a panic. My dreams were scarier every night. I stumbled out of my bed and gingerly maneuvered my way through piles of clothes, books, and various dishes that littered my bedroom floor like land mines. I reached the bathroom, and followed the familiar passage to the lights, fumbling with them until they let me see. I turned on the metal tap and splashed cool water on my face to calm me down. I glanced at myself in the mirror only to see that my hair was frazzled and eyes squinted as they adjusted to the light. I broke the stare and looked down at the two toothbrushes standing side-by-side like man and wife. They stood up straight within their own islands that wobbled and toppled, but were created so that the toothbrushes would never touch the germy counter. The only difference between the two was the plastic color. One gleamed blue, marking my ownership, and the other was green, my dad’s favorite color. The head of my brush was severely worn down. It had been through the ringer of my mouth and was tired from protecting me from cavities.  My toothbrush was perfectly juxtaposed to the clean, pristine brush of my father’s. I yawned and stumbled groggily back to the comfort of my bed.

 At the sharp beep of my alarm, I awoke and did the same dance that I had done in the wee hours of the morning except this time I added an extra step to get dressed, and eat my breakfast. I said farewell to my dad who was running out the door and I ran upstairs to complete my morning routine by brushing my teeth. As I entered the bathroom, I vaguely remembered the last time I stood in front of the two brushes. It struck me how very God-like my father’s toothbrush was in comparison to mine. His stood straight without a hair falling out of place. I looked to mine. It was scraggly, but what $2 generic brand toothbrush isn’t frayed after a couple of weeks? With that question my eyes wandered to the flaw in my logic. My father’s toothbrush could have been an outlier of sorts, right? 

I looked at my watch and saw that I had less than a minute before my ride arrived to take me to school. I had read somewhere that the more germs you consume, the better your immune system becomes and I guess the more immortal you become. I put some toothpaste on my self-proclaimed toothbrush and put on an obligatory splash of water to flatten the green paste. I looked at it a second more when I heard the crash of the front door opening, and followed closely was the pounding of footsteps that could be easily recognized as my father. He saw me in the bathroom on his way to his room.

“I forgot my briefcase,” He said, but stopped abruptly when he saw the look of fear mixed with repulsion on my face and the toothbrush that I held; I was unwilling to take the plunge. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine… Hey dad?”

“Yes?” He responded as he retrieved his briefcase from his room and turned to walk down the stairs.

“What color is your toothbrush?” I inquired shyly.

“What?” He said as he began to hurry down the stairs.

“What color is your toothbrush?” I said again with more purpose.

“Uhhh, I think blue.”

“No, I use the blue one. You use the green one.” I said, praying that he was colorblind and had just been too embarrassed to admit it in previous years.

“No, no. I remember. My toothbrush is blue like the sky.”

I looked towards the two-timing toothbrush with disgust. I thought about the gross situations I could now be in: diseases, long term colds that led to death, technically incest?

My dad must have sensed the incredulous look on my face because as he was halfway down the stairs he doubled back like Willy Wonka did when he introduced the children to the chocolate factory with a musical number.

“My toothbrush is definitely blue, but, you know, I keep my toothbrush in the basement bathroom.”

I let out a sigh of relief and gave myself a wink in the mirror as I stuck my toothbrush in my mouth. 

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