TOM'S OLD TOOTHBRUSH
by Matthew Sanborn Smith
"What happened to your toothbrush, Daddy?" Lainey asked. She'd caught Tom brushing with a toothpaste covered index finger.
"I tossed it out," Tom said, with greenish-white spit dribbling down his chin. "I thought we had some extras but I guess not, I can't find em anyway. I'll get some more when I go out today."
"What was wrong with your old toothbrush?" Pete asked. He'd been listening from Tom's bedroom during a commercial and was out to see if anything interesting could be gleaned.
"It just . . . had a bad taste is all. I tried it for a couple of days, couldn't get rid of it.
"What'd it taste like?" Pete wanted to know.
"What could it taste like?" Lainey said. "You didn't like, drop it in the toilet or anything, did you, Daddy?"
"Lainey! Jesus!" Pete said, holding his head.
"Listen, don't you kids have school or something?"
"Why do you think we're still in our T-shirts and underwear?"
"What did we eat, Pete?" Lainey said. "What did we have in the last couple of days?"
"Who the hell cares?" Tom yelled. "Why is this so important?"
"It's a commercial!" Pete insisted, as if that made it his inalienable right to know.
"I was just wondering why our toothbrushes didn't have the same taste," Lainey said.
"It wasn't food, okay? It was an adult thing!"
"Oh, Daddy. You haven't started drinking again?" Lainey asked.
"You promised you'd stop!" Pete said.
"I didn't drink anything, goddammit! If you want to know so bad "
"What is it?"
"It's your mother's . . . vagina."
Everything stopped for a moment. It was Pete who broke the silence:
"Okay, we can't turn back time can we? And make this conversation not happen?"
"Next time you won't be so nosey, will ya'?" Tom said. "Go back and watch your show."
"I don't . . . think I'll be going back in there . . . in this lifetime. I'll be in my room."
"What about you?" Tom asked Lainey.
"I gotta pee."
"Go ahead, I'm done." Even after he left the bathroom she stayed, bouncing in the doorway.
"What?" he asked.
"Daddy could you get your old toothbrush out of the bathroom garbage can first?"