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Toothbrush

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Bleary-eyed, Brenda shuffles into the bathroom, where she grabs the tube of toothpaste from the medicine cabinet and squeezes a strip onto her toothbrush. She wets it, sticks it in her mouth, and nearly gags.

Under the familiar, sweetish taste of her Crest gel is the sharper taste of Sharon's whitening paste, and Brenda wastes no time hawking it into the sink, and then spitting a few more times for good measure.

She stomps out to the kitchen, where Sharon is drinking a cup of coffee and looking at her phone.

"You used my toothbrush," Brenda accuses, shaking it at her. She didn't rinse it, and drops of toothpaste go flying.

Sharon's mouth twists and she takes off her glasses. "Am I to assume that's some sort of problem?" she asks, wiping toothpaste specks off them with the inside of her shirt.

Brenda stares at her for a moment. She wasn't expecting the confession to come quite so easily. "Yes, it's a problem," she says. "Sharon, it's disgusting!"

Sharon keeps squinting even when her glasses are back on. "Ignoring for a moment all the ways in which we have been intimate, you are a homicide detective... that is your bar for disgusting?"

"It's my toothbrush!" More toothpaste droplets, and she takes a steadying breath, relaxes her arms. "It ain't right. There are germs."

"I didn't use it to clean the grout in the floor tiles. I put it in my mouth. Which, until a few moments ago, I intended to kiss you with."

The exasperation in Sharon's voice makes it hard for Brenda to keep her voice from climbing higher as she asks, "How does this not bother you?"

Sharon leans back against the counter and presses her lips together in that way that makes them disappear. "I forget, sometimes, you don't have kids," she says, her tone neutral but her voice soft, like she's not quite sure if she's touching on a painful subject. It occurs to Brenda they've never talked about it. "But between Ricky and Emily, I've shared... everything from lollipops to toothbrushes. It stopped being something I even thought about years ago."

Brenda can feel her lip curling, the horror unstoppable. "Lollipops?"

Sharon laughs. "By the time they're old enough for those, you've done much, much worse, believe me. But I won't use your toothbrush again."

Brenda nods, satisfied. Sharon has always kept her word. "Good. Thank you." She shuffles her feet, shifting her weight, and tilts her head slightly. Puts on a little pout and her best puppy eyes. "But you'll still kiss me again, right?"

Sharon pushes away from the counter, walks over to Brenda, and touches their lips together. "Even when you haven't brushed your teeth."