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“The Toothbrush” – a short story by Rob Shackleford

The Toothbrush
By Rob Shackleford

Everything would be perfect!

Sharna would make damned sure of it!

At 6am Sharna’s alarm made certain she was up and out of bed, but as the Classic-Hits station blared, she was already awake, applying a quick-dry face-mask of oats, fresh aloe-vera and Himalayan rock salt. Soon after, when she swanned down to the kitchen with her silk dressing gown swishing about her like a purple Morticia, Brendan commented in his good-morning greeting that she looked like she had fallen face-first into cow poo.

But today, her head held high, Sharna’s only response was curt and cutting. “Brendan, don’t start the day with me, okay?” Without a smile she grabbed her pre-cut plate of four different types of melon and almost levitated from the room. Brendan, the house geek and by far the best judge of ‘mood climate’, decided, as he munched his Coco Pops, to silently watch as the morning’s events unfolded.

Upstairs, after she ate her light and stimulating breakfast, Sharna carefully flossed her teeth and then climbed into the shower to wash off her mask and give her body a stimulating, toxin flushing scrub with a brush one would normally associate with grooming horses. There was no time for fun with the shower nozzle this morning, though she momentarily considered the positive, therapeutic value the afterglow would have on her skin.

Following was a cleanse with scented mares milk and then a cold rinse that left her gasping before she dried herself with a new, virginally white, warmed Egyptian cotton towel. An almost mystical and costly collection of creams and potions were then applied to her face and wiped off and then a final moisturizer smeared over her entire body. Once that was accomplished, Sharna wrapped herself in the voluminous folds of her white toweling robe and made the pilgrimage back to her room. It would not do to have the other house mates disturb her peace and serenity by demanding to use the bathroom.

For today would be perfect!

In her bedroom, her hair, which had been washed the night before, was now brushed to a luxurious shine and her liquid, dark tresses cascaded over her creamy bare shoulders. Sharna critically examined her naked self in her full-length mirror, something she did often, and was gratified to see that her preparations were proceeding nicely. Despite her recent tendency toward more generously proportioned thighs, she knew she would have that ‘right look’ in her bank uniform; the image of attractive, feminine efficiency.

For today was her interview for the position of supervisor for her department. Sharna knew she was slated for the job. Even Amanda, the current supervisor, had told her she was going to be recommended for the position because Amanda was leaving to have her baby. All Sharna had to do was present well at the interview and she would most likely get the promotion.
It was all about having a positive attitude and a Zen-like peace of mind.

Sharna critically inspected herself and, with a start, grabbed her beautician’s tweezers to remove a long, obscure, black hair missed in the almost medieval process of bikini waxing. Yesterday Mandy, Sharna’s beautician, had clucked disapprovingly at Sharna’s negligence at leaving the fertile fields grow. Sharna had not had a boyfriend of any sort for the past year, none had even come near to her exacting standards, so there had been no need to submit herself to the ordeal. But, with the interview, Sharna knew she had to be the best she could be. It was all about what was seen and unseen, in how she felt in herself.

So Mandy had happily chatted as the warm wax had been applied, to be torn in strips that, when removed, looked like a cat had been skinned. As Sharna grimaced and yelped, Mandy had shaken her head. “Sharna you really must do this more often girl. God, with pubes like yours I’m pretty sure those roots are attached to your backbone,” and she ripped another strip of fur from the pale pink skin that had rarely, if ever, seen sunlight.

But, Sharna now thought with a smirk and a nod, it had been worth it.

With plenty of time to spare, Sharna carefully donned brand-new silk knickers and bra, then her formal uniform, dry-cleaned and pressed to a knife edge. The silk scarf would be a nice touch, but only after she had cleaned her teeth. She knew she was not going to be the only person interviewed today, for that bitch Imogen was also going to throw her hat into the ring. Sharna knew that she could not simply walk in and get the position, but of all people, Imogen was the worse. So sweet! So nice! Sharna looked into the mirror and smiled nastily. She was going to blow Imogen out of the water. Yep, she was going to fuck her good!

Checking that her newly purchased, professional banking-supervisor-style leather valise was still packed with the necessary references and certificates citing her copious professional, academic and in-house qualifications, Sharna moved to the bathroom again. The huge old house had six bedrooms but only two bathrooms, and for some reason everyone used this upstairs bathroom for their morning ablutions. As she approached, Antonio and Jackie left the bathroom wrapped only in towels, giggling as they always did. Sharna found them irritating as they were so in love and oblivious to everyone else’s needs. She just wished that, for once, they would shower alone, that and place the floor mat over the shower screen when they had finished instead of leaving it in a sodden heap every damned morning and evening.

Sharna reached for her toothbrush, the bright blue one. One of the housemates, Lauren, had decided that everyone needed to update their toothbrushes at the same time, so they had all acquiesced, simply because Lauren liked to organise everyone. The six new toothbrushes had been placed into a trendy chrome holder that did not at all suit the French provincial bathroom decor. Each toothbrush was safely racked and isolated. Lauren had insisted that they had to be more aware of airborne germs, the potential of nightly forays of cockroaches that were rumoured to lick each toothbrush, or whatever other means a toothbrush could be contaminated. Lauren’s boyfriend, Dillon, had moved in with her recently and she was definitely nesting. They were another couple who Sharna felt needed a reality-check. She really had to say something about their antics soon, for it seemed that Antonio and Jackie and Lauren and Dillon were competing to see who could have the noisiest sex at two o’clock in the bloody morning.

Having applied her own special toothpaste, Sharna realised she had left her sensible banker pumps in the vestibule, just inside of the front door so, in her stocking feet, she wandered downstairs to make sure they were safe. Though she always treated her professional, black leather shoes carefully, it would not do to have one link in her chain of careful preparations remove itself from her control.

Yes, everything would be perfect.

As she passed by the kitchen, Sharna removed the toothbrush from her mouth to wave politely to Antonio and Jackie as they busily prepared poached eggs on toast while Brendan quietly read the paper and sipped on his first mega-sized coffee for the day. The house coffee-machine was Brendan’s contribution, which all but Sharna enjoyed. She had to admit though, that the heavy aroma of freshly ground coffee and toast were friendly and familiar, like family.

Despite their many differences, Sharna liked living with these guys. The house included a generous TV room, small swimming pool and outdoor entertainment area, so had enough space for all to enjoy their own privacy. Except for meal time, when they tended to gather.

As she skimmed past, Brendan caught sight of Sharna’s toothbrush and he frowned. It was not missed on Antonio who, like the other guys in the house, delighted to give Sharna a hard time as they sometimes treated her like a snob. Sharna’s reputation had never quite recovered from that night they had all been drinking Kahlua as they played Monopoly. She had been the banker, of course, and they all said she had become such a bossy bitch that they got drunk and forgot about the game. The fact that Sharna had awoken with a massive hangover and with Brendan in her bed had, of course, been something she would never live down.

Brendan had naturally gloried in the notoriety. He rarely, if ever, did anything notorious, and Sharna had been angry at him ever since. She blamed him for getting her drunk and almost raping her, while the other house-mates swore it was actually the other way around.

When Antonio saw Sharna’s toothbrush his bottom lip stuck out and he was about to say something when Lauren barreled down in a hurry. She always slept-in or wanted morning sex so she was running late, as usual. Thoughtful Brendan had prepared a couple of spare pieces of toast and a coffee for her, so as Lauren looked for shoes and brushed her hair, she gave Brendan a kiss on his forehead for his troubles.

Her eyes immediately fell on Sharna and she frowned. “Sharna! What are you doing?”

Sharna paused as she was about to run upstairs to complete her preparations. She removed the toothbrush from her mouth “What?” she asked, her enunciation muffled and frothy.

“Why are you using my toothbrush?” asked Lauren.

Sharna looked aghast and immediately suspected another joke at her expense. “Thif if not your toothbrush, thif if my toothbruff.”

Antonio laughed and Lauren looked at him, also suspecting a joke as Dillon wandered down. He was a cop and was about to enjoy a rare day off.

“What’s up,” he asked with a half smile. Judging from the look on her face, he suspected that Sharna was copping another ribbing.

Antonio said, “Sharna!” he smiled broadly, “she’s using my toothbrush!”

Sharna, mouth still full of suds, looked at Antonio and shook her head, knowing he was pulling her leg.

“No, honestly Sharna, that’s my toothbrush,” continued Antonio emphatically.

“No it’s not, the blue one is mine, persisted Lauren, looking scandalised.

Jackie looked up from spreading butter on toast and frowned. “Bullshit, the blue toothbrush is mine. We all agreed it was mine. Lauren handed out the toothbrushes just two days ago and gave me the blue one.”

Dillon was open-mouthed. “But I always used the blue one. You know, Cop equals blue,” and he couldn’t continue, but began to laugh, especially as Sharna’s mouth opened to show the white foam that still filled it. She finally realised something was seriously amiss. As the toothpaste threatened to spill out and fall onto the floor, Sharna did something they all thought they would never see; she ran to the kitchen sink and spat the contents and washed it down. She had once seriously chastised Brendan for doing that very thing once, but this was a moment of extreme duress. Sharna had her head in the sink and was noisily washing out her mouth with one of her fingers and she repeatedly tried not to gag.

She looked up, her face pale and her eyes red-rimmed. “You bastards! That’s such a shit trick. You know I have my interview today! You arseholes!”

Antonio was adamant, “No tricks Sharna, I’m serious.”

“No!” she said and put a hand up and turned her face away so she would not be harassed.

Lauren spoke up, “Well I don’t know what happened but I’ve been using that toothbrush for the past two days.”

“Oh no, me too!” gasped Jackie and she began to smile broadly, her eyes wide in scandalised delight.

Dillan clutched the banister to stop himself rolling about on the carpeted stairs in laughter while Antonio also began to chuckle. “You mean to tell me that we’re all using the one fucking toothbrush,” and he cried as he wiped his crying eyes. Sharna’s stricken expression moved to Brendan, who was also smiling. In answer to Sharna’s unasked question, his smile vanished and he just shook his head. Sharna closed her eyes in blessed relief.

Sharna looked at the cursed toothbrush and shuddered. After all of their careful precautions, hers turned out to be the community toothbrush. But what about the amorous Jackie, and Lauren? God knew what they had been doing with their mouths! Her gorge rose and she resisted yet another gag, fearing this one would be productive enough to splatter her neatly pressed uniform. She rested a moment, her hand on the counter top, head bowed and her face pale at the thought of her toothbrush being thrust into such a bacterial wonderland.

Her disgust turned to anger. This was the chance for her to rise to the occasion and show true managerial grit and determination, to show herself that she was worthy of the position.

She was, damn it!

Her face paled as again she almost vomited, but she stood, shaky but determined and took a deep, cleansing breath.

With a flick of her wrist Sharna promptly threw the toothbrush into the rubbish bin.

She tossed her head, face still deathly pale, and strode away as her housemates snorted and struggled not to laugh, that was until she had ascended the stairs. Before she closed her bedroom door she heard them all explode with hilarity.

Her back ramrod straight she donned her silk scarf and collect her valise.

Fuck them! She could do it. She would do it!

Today would be perfect.


The Toothbrush - a short story by Rob Shackleford

Author Comment

This is another story based on true events. Sometimes life dishes out some funny experiences and an old friend, Marty Collins, told me how, one day, his entire family realised they were all using the same toothbrush.

Having lived with and been close to many of the characters of this story, The Toothbrush, it is a whimsical tale I couldn’t resist.

Rob Shackleford - Author of Traveller Inceptio, Traveller Probo and Traveller Manifesto
Rob Shackleford – Author

Rob Shackleford lives with partner, Deb, at Burleigh Heads, on Australia’s Gold Coast.

Rob is author of Traveller Inceptio, published by Austin Macauley Publishers.

If you have any questions regarding the contents of this blog, please email Rob via his email: [email protected] or Instagram @rob_shackleford_

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