Teeth cleaning won’t come easily until the pregnancy doctor says it’s a must. All sorts of repellent things can seep into your bloodstream when you don’t weave them out of your gums. During obligatory flossing, you may do squats or hum or yell at your kid to get her pajamas on, you’ve told her five times, ten times, fourteen times you’ve said something and they better listen because they are close to losing privileges. And you despise this term losing privileges because your father used to say the same thing to you, only worse, for things you never did, never wanted to do. One day you were so tired of hearing this that you left the push mower in the middle of the lawn, packed trash bags and slammed the door. You will rinse the floss instead of use another strand to get into your incisors. Dinner’s tomatoes down the drain. A story your ex-lover told you comes to you. One of their students was eating an apple and in the eating of the apple, the chewing part of the apple, her gums started to bleed. Your ex-lover said something to her about the blood staining the flesh of the apple. These teeth, she said, they bleed all the time.
I worked for him. I wore pigtails and leather coats. I wasn't thin enough, tall enough, in the know. I shook the right hands of famous friends and in this shaking embraced cleaning ladies I'd met in Bogota who slept in cots next to their employer's kitchen after cooking all day. I fetched lotion. I booked plane tickets. I called cars. Sashimi. Burgers without buns. Gold-capped lip balm. Flowers for friends. I wasn't allowed to say I didn't know. If I didn't know I had to say I didn't know. Always say yes. Always say no. Didn't they know who he was. Yes. Yes. Yes. No. No. No. No. No! He said this is how I will always remember you as I bent over to tie my shoes. He said I was beautiful, but my eyes, so dead! What was I doing? No, that was all wrong. I thought you were smart. Did I know who he was? I hid in bathrooms to laugh-cry. There were meetings over skim lattes, his tiny growling canine at our feet. My palms drenched tablecloths, spilled coffee cups. I couldn't find enough spit to swallow. I turned red, blacked out. He said he was so sorry, it was his fault, he was so sorry, it was his fault. I said no, no, no. It's my own.