Bittersweet

He'd married her because her mouth tasted like strawberry ice cream. I expect you're saying now, surely that's an exaggeration! There must have been other factors too. But I can say to you with utter sincerity, that no, he had a fondness for her face but no great love of it. She had dainty little feet, he supposed, but what man ever married a woman because she had dainty little feet? The glass slipper thing in Cinderella was a typo. It was actually supposed to say glass bra. Thus, the Prince had declared, I shall marry the maiden whose voluptuous bosoms fit this double D glass bra!

It was that creamy mouth that he married; the strawberry sting of her molars, the fruity lashing of her tongue. Likewise the man had said; I shall never find another girl who tastes like strawberry ice cream. Therefore I must marry her quickly! I might find a vanilla girl, and mint is a dime a dozen, but another strawberry sizzler? Never.

His wife would later remark that this was always her husband's problem. He thinks women come in flavours, she told her friends wryly.

But the wife had a secret; was wasn't naturally strawberry, as her husband assumed. He thought it might be because she ate so much ice cream as a child the flavour had infused into her incisors. When he was in a more playful mood, he'd lean in to cuddle her on the sofa and tell her it was because of her sweet personality.

She knew it was because since she was a teenager, she'd snuck down to the fridge to secretly gorge on ice cream at night. She knew she shouldn't; it was going to ruin her diet again, but night after night, softer than a mouse, she tiptoed down the stairs. There was the soft click of the refrigerator, light spilling onto the linoleum…

One night, she had chocolate instead, and the morning after her fiancé had kissed her and frowned. Funny, he said. You've changed flavours- and he was sour all through their date. She learned that if she wanted to keep her man, she ought to stick to strawberry.

She hadn't meant for it to become a secret, but what wasn't secretive about sneaking out of bed to eat ice cream from inside the toilet cistern? Sometimes, at her lowest point, she felt like beating her breast and wailing, "My marriage is a sham! I don't really taste like strawberry ice cream!"

But she didn't. Her mother had always told her that with men, you had to 'keep them sweet.' So for ten years she kept him sweet, for ten years of blissful strawberry marriage, and swooning strawberry sex. Until the night when he caught her with the spoon in her mouth; red handed (actually, it was closer to pink.)

She'd known it was bound to happen one day. Knew it was inevitable. And she sobbed the whole betrayal out into the folds of his flannel pyjamas.

Her husband looked at her as though he didn't know her. And in actuality, he didn't. Most of the time, he was too busy kissing her to get to know her. He asked, like a sad puppy, So you're not actually sweet?

She smiled sadly at him. More like bittersweet, she said.

By the next day, he'd packed his bags and left, to get together with a waif who tasted like watermelon.

As for her? She threw out all of her strawberry ice cream and found a man who didn't care what the inside of her mouth tasted like.