Sunday Stories: “Things You Can Do With Toothpaste”


Things You Can Do With Toothpaste
by Jennifer Sky 

Lee could hear the traffic outside the bathroom window as he finished himself off. Inside the medicine cabinet was the toothpaste she had held an hour before. Gripping it in the middle, she had squeezed, white paste presenting itself; she held a finger to it and placed the discharge in her mouth. Lee watched the whole process. The squeezing, the white being dispelled, the opening of her wide lips and it disappearing inside. Then he said “Don’t do that. It’s one of my things. Squeezing the toothpaste from the middle. It ruins the tube.” She looked at him blank for a moment. Maybe not blank. She started to fix the tube, trying to reshape it into perfect pre-squeezed form before she stopped herself. She looked at the toothpaste in her hand and simply placed it back in the medicine cabinet, dent in full view, and closed the door. “Well, I guess you’re just going to have to get a new one.”

Now he couldn’t stop thinking about the tube, the curve, the fact that it was imperfect and was there, behind that mirror, waiting for him to do something about it. It made him so hard that she had defied him. He kept imagining grabbing the back of her head and smacking it against the mirror, cracking it, making blood come from the places that were the most perfect and beautiful. He could not help but imagine breaking her, shattering the mirror. Then slowly, he would open the medicine closet door. She would be placid and waiting because she really wanted what was next. He would slowly remove the toothpaste and guide her in the bathtub. He would rub the toothpaste all over her face, all over her wounds, which would heal instantly. He would of course be squeezing from the bottom of the tube.

Jennifer Sky is a writer of fiction, nonfiction and believer in magical things. A former model and actress, her work has recently appeared in print or online with Tin House, The Rumpus, Interview Magazine, Electric Literature, 12th Street, and others. She is a contributing editor for One Teen Story and lives in Brooklyn. Find her online at and Twitter at @jennifer_sky.

Follow Vol. 1 Brooklyn on TwitterFacebookGoogle + and our Tumblr.