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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Feel (emotions) (08/26/10)

TITLE: Mint Toothpaste
By Sara Harricharan


The mint toothpaste in my mouth was disturbingly comforting. As I moved the plastic-bristled brush in deliberate strokes over my teeth, I found my mind trying to calm itself with the methodical movements.

It was hard, confusing and made my head hurt.

So I spat in the sink and rinsed the result down the drain. Shiny silver taps gleamed mockingly at me as I resumed my dental ritual. I counted each up stroke of the brush while dreaming up new metaphors for the taste of mint on my tongue.

Sixty-eight, sixty-nine, seventy. The taste of mint is like a candle in a sea of blandness. Seventy-three, seventy-four. Mint is like poetry to toothpaste. Mint is a peace of calmness. Peace. Yeah!

But mind tricks refused to work, because of a red welt plainly visible on my cheek in the bathroom mirror. A mark I could neither hide or ignore and most certainly couldn’t accept.

Redness flared anew as I refused to look my reflection in the eye. Shame and guilt gaily stampeded over my bruised pride as I set the brush down and began to rinse my mouth.

Anxiety returned the moment the taste of mint left my mouth. I attempted to gargle as another distraction.

I nearly choked.

The red line was so obvious that I almost smashed the mirror. Tears threatened to dribble down my face, teasing the corners of my eyes as I reached for the plastic soap bottle and began to wash my hands.

This methodical task was calming in its necessity. My mind settled enough to replay the events that had led to my downfall.

It was all Taylor’s fault. He’d be causing mischief as usual and when my darling husband had caught hold of him, it was nearly the end for both of us. I’d intervened where I shouldn’t have and now I was paying the price.

In guilt trips.

My husband’s accusing eyes and understanding arms awaited me just outside the bathroom door. I was too stubborn to give in. It hadn’t been his fault entirely, for Taylor was partially to blame.

I turned the taps on, rinsing white lather from my trembling hands. The scent of lavender was useless as I wiped my hands on the dirty roller towel and grimaced.

Time to wash it again.

I hadn’t been paying attention. Now I would have to wash my hands again.

In a moment of anger, I thrust my face toward the mirror and dared the reflection to continue its mockery of my mistake. Instead, on the pale skin, I saw the faintest outline of a handprint.

Confusion registered like a whistling teakettle. First, I couldn’t understand when it had happened. Second, I couldn’t believe that it had happened. Third, I was absolutely sure it was a mistake.

Closer examination left me with another headache as I studied the handprint on my left cheek. My nose wrinkled at the offensive scent of ‘dirty bathroom towel’ and I was obliged to use two squirts of soap when rewashing, instead of one.

Details of the incident came rushing back and I couldn’t keep my head together.

I’d worked too hard.

Anger rippled through me as I squeezed out another glob of toothpaste and began to brush my teeth again.

It was all his fault! This never would’ve happened if he’d just listened to me-!

I nearly choked on the toothpaste foam and found myself rinsing my mouth out again. My hands no longer shook, but the rest of my body shivered in alternating spasms. The red line and imprint on my face blended in perfectly with my ill-disguised fury.

The bathroom door banged open as I bypassed my husband, pausing only to snatch the metal cooking spoon from his hand.


I charged into the kitchen and reached for the sniveling, doe-eyed toddler-shape on the floor. Tears streamed down his face, his spiky hair more frazzled than ever, as he bowed his head, awaiting judgment.

An evil spark revived.

I smacked the robot over the head with the spoon. The body went limp in my grasp as I flipped him over and turned the switch to off.

“Honey-?” He tried again.

“Sweetie, Angel…Cupcake.” I forced the pleasantries out of my mouth. “When I say, ‘keep the android away from microwave appliances’ I mean it. Now your kitchen is ruined and my science project is in dreamland! What do you have to say for yourself?”


I missed the taste of mint in my mouth.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Amanda Brogan09/02/10
Well, I brush my teeth a lot, but never to calm my nerves!
I was highly surprised at the ending! Not at all suspected. Throughout most of it, I was thinking that the wife had intercepted a fight between her husband and teenage son.
There was definitley a lot of emotion here.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/02/10
I thought I was following the story until I got to the end. It was a twist I wasn't expecting.

A little red ink it's either/or OR neither/nor.

You definitely demonstrated the topic. Keep writing.
Author Unknown09/07/10
I loved how you worked in the OCD tendencies of your MC. But, I was also unsure of what really happened. I thought she'd been hit by her husband while blocking the blow from her little boy. But then the robot thing threw me off. That aside, this was amazing writing. Really. I was hooked, in there, and staying with you to find out what happened. You have a good mastery of word phrasings. Well done.
Cheryl Harrison09/07/10
Good writing. You had my attention. I felt every emotion. The ending threw me a little, but after I read it again, I giggled. Until then I was really mad at her husband. Thanks for letting him off the hook! Keep writing.
Carole Robishaw 09/08/10
You did a great job here. The OCD actions where totally realistic and took me right along with her.