Broken Promise

by John Inouye

There were the obvious solutions, like slipping a Listerine PocketPak strip on my tongue when I was seven minutes from home at the end of my commute (any closer, and I figured I’d be suspiciously fresh instead of appropriately stale). And I always drove with the car windows a quarter open in case the smell was still in my hair or on my clothes. On the off chance that she kissed my hands (she is sometimes unconventionally romantic), I washed them thoroughly at a gas station on the route home. I learned every station restroom with mildly scented soap, which I also used to wash my face in case the odor clung to my lips and nostril hairs. When she showed me the positive pregnancy test months ago, I told her that I’d stop. But I didn't consider the possibility of a burn mark, still flecked with ash, on the rubber sole of one of my shoes, which I’d carelessly kicked off at the front door—never considered it, that is, until she waddled over, one hand on her belly and the other holding the tattletale shoe, and sighed, "Honey, you said you'd quit."


John Inouye works in product usability for a high tech company, but he sometimes thinks about other things.