“You turned your head away.”

“Did I?”

“Yes. You did.” She took a step back and eyed him suspiciously. He had never done that before. “Why?”

“No reason.” 

She wanted to believe that what had just occurred was truly a figment of her imagination. Her heart wanted to shrug it off. 

But she knew. 

He used to steal a kiss every chance he could get. Touching her. Making love to her. No more.

They stood there regarding each other from across a great chasm, suddenly strangers.

“You are lying.”

He pondered this for a moment.

“Ok. It was your breath. It stinks.”

“How is that even possible? I just ate a slice of the same pizza you ate and drank a bottle of the same hard cider you did!” 

He shrugged.

She cupped her hand over her nose and mouth and tried to catch a whiff. 

It still smelled like pizza for crying out loud!

Her mouth felt suddenly dry, fetid. She gathered her belongings and walked out, focused on the fact that her tongue now seemed glued to the roof of her mouth.

As she drove home in the dark she kept testing her breath. 

Maybe she just couldn’t tell?

She asked a friend.

Maybe they just didn’t feel they could be honest with her?

He stopped calling her. What was wrong with her, what made her so unloveable?

Thus began the obsession with her bad breath. Multiple doctor visits, specialists, breath mints, drops, a tonsillectomy, gum, laxatives, restricted diets, medications, mouthwashes…

“Doc, take a whiff! It’s awful.”

She puffed into my face. 

“Seriously, I smell nothing offensive…”

“No?” She looked skeptical. “Here, let me do it again.”

“Yeah… Still smells fine.”

The disbelief never left her face.

In the end it was never about the halitosis. Not then, not now. She chose to believe in something she thought she could fix, something she could live with.


91 thoughts on “Halitosis

  1. Love this piece. I get that it’s a mix of your experience and fiction but it’s so simple and well written. TheUberbook.com has a โ€˜break upsโ€™ gallery I have recommended this post. Check out the LIFE STUFF galleries, request an add via the form if youโ€™d like to be on there. You get my vote although I donโ€™t have a say on whether you are eventually added.

    The Ed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It was amusing until the last paragraph, where it hit right at the heart. “She chose to believe in something she thought she could fix, something she could live with.” I’ll have to think about that one a little more….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Halitosis is easily ignored unless someone really smells like the sensation of something that is rotting away. The process of rotting and decay tends to distance people almost naturally.

    There once was a girl I liked. At one point she stopped making jokes and her sense of humour made her so great in my opinion. I stopped hanging out with her. Little things can be instant turn offs…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beats the hell out of the truth. It always will.

    I have an almost irrational fear of bad breath. I brush my teeth in the office lavatory every morning before sitting at my desk. If I don’t, I’m paranoid I’ll stink like coffee and breakfast all day. I get dirty looks when people walk in and see me hocking toothpaste spittle in the sink but it’s better than the alternative. What?! I rinse the sink out when I’m done!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. OMG! Part of me nearly laughed — because you could have been spyong on “past me.” Yes, Psycho-Ex did that (but not to break up). I didn’t fully believe it, but I did have to ask my dentist… Since Ex made such awful complaints, I said nothing, but whooped kissing him; didn’t want to inflict my disgusting self on him. After about 2 years he noticed that I didn’t kiss him any more & complained. I replied about his intense complaints of my breath. Know what he said? . “I just said that to have something to say.” I swear to God.
    Hugs. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. I wonder if halitosis can have something to do with chemistry. Meaning that one person’s halitosis could be okay to some one else. I love how my husband’s skin smells, but I’ve dated some people who’s natural skin smell was mildly annoying. I never told anyone that though. There were always other reasons things didn’t work out.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I do think too many men act like cowards, and this leads to more conflict than is necessary. Better to take the long perspective than the short, speak the truth–always in a gentle manner–and deal with issues, rather than let them fester. Healthier and kinder in the long run to both parties. But I feel more men are interested only in the short-term and the kindness (safety–conflict avoidance) to one party.

    Not that many women don’t have their own sets of issues they bring to relationships.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You know, this could really be the start of a longer fictionalized story if you are inclined to creative writing! She would be an interesting character. Truth is stranger than fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: My Article Read (7-2-2015) (7-3-2015) | My Daily Musing

  10. Oof. Your pieces this week are giving me ALL THE FEELS, you know that?

    In the last months of our marriage, my husband began insisting that my feet reeked. He was astounded I couldn’t smell them, since it was all he could do to be in the same room with me. “A loving person would at least *care* that she made her partner this uncomfortable — even if her own nose doesn’t work.” He started insisting I wash my feet as soon as I came home from work each day. Later in the evening, he would sometimes order me out of bed to go wash them again.

    I realize my story moves in a different direction that the one you are telling. But her initial shocked disbelief, the earnest efforts to smell her own (nonexistent) offense? … Painful, is all I can say.


    Liked by 1 person

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