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The International Writers Magazine: No Chemical Toxins

No Chemical Toxins
Danae Phelps
As I washed my teeth, I imagined all the tiny bits of others I was scrubbing away with the frothy tooth-paste. How much of them would my bristles collect and wash away?

One Night Stand

I fiercely brushed away at them like I would a wine-stain off a white t-shirt (though that may be the worst thing you can do to a wine stain but that is beside the point). OK, so I might have had a relatively good time but now I want you out please, out! Though, truth be told, I never felt like I could truly, once-and-far-all get rid of all evidence of someone else. I never truly felt like I was clean of anyone else. Can you ever rid your body of smells you have inhaled or shed cells fused within your gut? Sometimes them refusing to washed away was OK, you really didn’t mind –it was like having a little bit of that special someone with you all the time. Whereas other times… well you just scrub with a little more vigour and purpose and hope you can forget about the whole thing as soon as possible. Not everything merits a memory in this life.

I imagined dead tongue cells from furious kisses wedged in the twisty cracks of my back bottom molars, lodged deep inside where nothing can possibly reach it, not even a hair. A hair like those incredibly short, thin ones found on someone’s cheekbone or just below the wrist or in between their breasts; perhaps one of those hairs from lovers past was a stowaway, gliding on the saliva in the under-part of my tongue, floating like an unsinkable atomic boat. Under my tongue, my saliva that has on several occasions been glued to his or hers with much over-heated fusion, sloshes and swirls. A large proportion of my body’s water has mixed with an outsider’s spending days, weeks, years fermenting and coagulating with my own. Mixture proportions: 1 part me / countless parts all those past and yet to come? Does all the water in my body comprise everyone’s endless molecules I have ingested throughout my years? Are we, unknowingly, unwillingly always at one with everyone we have ever shared ourselves with?

Was it possible that every single person that has taken the time to stop by and check in has left practically untraceable elements, allowing them to stay a while to mingle and socialize with my own? Was there, say, perhaps in one of my teeth a massively microscopic archive holder with all the vital information on anyone ever recorded on board? Perhaps that tooth is separated into tiny vaults or wooden filing cabinets, each containing files on each visitor: right upper-arm shed cells, case #5? Check. Bed-head hair follicle, case #18? Check. Scotch-laced mouth saliva, case #30? Check.
The tongue might be the samples cabinet – a bit unstable, sure, but it keeps it all locked in there. The overhead of the undertow of my tongue an endless row of ceiling-to-ceiling lockers, reached with a stepladder and a torch. Once up there, the archives are stored inside papillae, one of those round, anemone-like bumps on my tongue, each a separate, unique carrier of fluids, atoms, breaths, skins, spunk and vibes. All lined up together in one perfect field of pink.

And get this: the tooth’s archives are slowly getting a little fuller, tired and heaving with yet another one-night-stand (best just put that one down to experience), or that really nice guy you met once but never saw again (could be a million reasons why), or mere traces and images of her (she would never...) - the wooden vaults getting more and more musty with the thick stench of dried sweat on bed-sheets and the weight of countless alcohol purchase receipts gone yellow, stale and rotting in the dank air of the back of your throat.

Sometimes I imagine tumble-weed bouncing down the archives hall, stale cigarette smoke from last night making the air and light murky, thick and warm. Each case folder containing images and flash-back excerpts, medical histories, lists of favourite or note-worthy points of interest, big posters on the walls with all the warning signs pertaining to each person, red lava lamps spelling out the words 'yes' and 'no' and 'I told you so'. Some files are thicker than others; some files are as thin as they come. Those thin files are my favourite and the first I would readily chuck into a cleaver with no hesitation. I like them because even collectively they do not take up much space (due to the fact that each meager folder in effect contains one item, maybe worthy of a Post-it sized note: a name, a month and a year, recorded in a hasty black ball-point pen scribble). The fuller files are more often than not chock-a-block with photographs: mental stills of a hand touching you just in the right place at the right time, or a loaded look given at that party one summer night. The swaying of raven-black hair or the curving of a smile or a downward glance. The heaving of a chest or the dimple in an elbow.

And there are always a couple of cases that just won’t sit tight; papers that like to fly all over the place and are never where they should be; you can always hear them shuffling out of their proper place and nudging shoulders with the exiles near the exit. They don’t want to be archived just yet. “But I want to be a memory, pretty please oh let me stay? I’m not ready for the cleaver”. 

When all the teeth archives are full, ready to fall out and my tongue is bursting open, about to let its bloody flood gates rip apart, that’s when I believe I will have no need for archives or past chemical combinations or concoctions. No more tiny, compartmentalized pill boxes, secret stashes and placebos. All chemical waste may now please leave the building. You can flush those pharmaceutical analyses down the toilet and just burn the whole place down. My entire slate will be licked clean and the white-board of my experiences will be, er… well, white again. Somehow my parasitic genetic code will disappear and I will be clean again.

I have no way of knowing how full my teeth are or how swollen my tongue is, or how much longer my dready heart can go on heaving, but you mark my words, one of these days, I just might shed my unnecessary chemical toxins and it will be brilliant.
© Danae Phelps August 2012

Patience Thinner than Ice

Danae Phelps in Greece

I started off with Rum and Cola. 11:40am is not too early to start on alcohol; especially when one is theoretically on holiday. Before 13:00 I had moved on to Vodka and two kinds of juice...

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