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Toothpaste

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Toothpaste

The sink was always porcelain white. No matter the number of residue splatters, the sink was always bright, porcelain white. It gleamed under the white light, reflected every morning in the centre of that small, white room. Hands clasped around the rim of that white basin sink, Dave stared into the drain-hole.

His eyes hung low in a sleepy daze; fixated on the drain. For a long moment his thoughts were still and he stood frozen over the sink. Then the tap let out a stifled squeal, like an eraser on glass, followed by the ‘coddle coddle coddle’ of running water. Dave scooped some with his hands and splashed his face. Beads of water made trails down his skin until they reached his chin, then recited a pattern: cling, swell, drop.

Still arched over the sink with closed eyes, he groped for his toothbrush. As the monotonous drone of sloshing bristles echoed around the room, he let his mind wander…

"Man, I feel sick today… What’s the point in brushing my teeth like this if I only end up with a fleshy saliva taste in my mouth by the time I get to work? I wish the mint flavour wouldn't wear off…''

Dave spat aggressively into the sink. A thread of dribble slicked over his bottom lip and he pawed it off with the back of his hand. His eyes rested on the tube of toothpaste; which sat in a shallow crater on the far side of the sink where the soap should have been. It was snatched up and its pearly white insides were squeezed out in a stringy dollop. Dave winced slightly at the overpowering taste in his mouth- this should keep my breath fresh all morning- and he smoothed the paste around with his tongue.

On the walk to the public bus stop, he managed to accumulate a fair amount of spit in his mouth- he would not swallow it. A man in one of the neighbouring houses smiled at him,

"Hi there Dave, how are we feeling today?"

Dave had sputtered out a broken ‘good’ in response and a gag leapt up his oesophagus. An unnatural sensation had settled in his stomach. He had swallowed the toothpaste.

He clutched his rib-cage as he continued walking. He imagined that someone had cracked open a highlighter and poured its sickly-fluorescent contents down his throat.

Stupid... stupid... you can never do anything right, Dave. His insides turned and he dropped to the ground in pain. The toothpaste solution burned coldly in his guts, like liquid butterflies… bright, white, liquid fluttering butterflies. The neighbour, who was blurred in Dave's vision, had scrambled to help Dave up.

Stupid... stupid... stupid...

Two men adorned with white coats supported Dave on either side.

"Escorting patient #133 to the Medical Centre-" he heard amongst muffled static. Dave thought back to the white bathroom, the porcelain white basin sink. Powerful light filtered into his vision until the white encompassed every shape in sight and he could no longer see.

"Yes ma'am, this is the third issue this week we've had with Dave and that particular disorder… no I'm sorry, we don't see him recovering any time soon. You can always visit- around eight is when he "leaves for work"… yes anytime after then will be perfectly fine…"

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