Toothpaste, water, and saliva mixing into a foaming white film that flows inexorably down the neck of the toothbrush and over the back of the hand and dripping down into the sink below, disappearing into the darkness of the drain with the tap water.
You think to yourself, briefly, Am I doing this right?, and your fears are only compounded by the fact that there seems to be more water on your hands than there is in your mouth. it doesn’t matter – not really, anyway – because your scrubbing and scraping that dirty feeling from the cigarette and coffee stained enamel of your teeth.
And, yet, all you can manage to think about is the years you spent homeless, with no access to a toothbrush on a regular basis, the dirty taste of the air becoming less important than the acid washing up from your stomach and across the insides of your mouth.
One cavity as a kid somehow managed to turn into a few thousand dollars worth of dental surgery and fixes in a matter of years and all you can think to do is ignore the teeth fusing to bone and the sharp stabbing sensation as you bite into that candy bar that just happens to be a meal for one even though the advertising always suggested you share it with another.
And here you are, with this simple little thing in your hand, inning and outing its way through your mouth, and you can’t help but remember that nobody really ever taught you how to brush your teeth properly.
We aren’t aiming for proper, really. All we’re aiming to do is get the job done.