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