November 19: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

November 20, 2014

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionPrivileged in my pissing, I sit upon my porcelain throne. Outside, remnants of wooden outhouses covered with moss and void of original paint decay with age. Primitive reminders that school children once doubled-up for potty breaks in these two-seater relics. The teacher had her own private place to poop, discretely built beyond the school and behind the teacher-house next to the wood shed.

Blogger, Anne Goodwin, asks us to give a thought to toilets today, November 19. She wrote a short story, Bathroom Suite, which demonstrates how vast a gap exists between those who sit upon porcelain and those who shit where they can.

Pardon my potty mouth today, but it’s World Toilet Day.

UNICEF declares that we can’t wait while 2.5 billion people go without the porcelain privilege. Worse yet, millions of women lack safety and are assaulted going to the toilet. THINX, an innovative panty company, is reaching out to the millions of girls denied education because of the lack of sanitation.

Anne’s story is based on the reality girls without toilets or sanitary pads face.

I looked at those outhouses today and realized that I would have thought them such a hassle. There’s nothing private about having to march outside in front of everyone. They all know what you are doing in there. Yet what an improvement the privy was over chamber pots and open pits.

In fiction, we don’t talk about toilets. Our characters sip merlot, coif their hair, button up (or down), cook breakfast and kiss one another madly. They have adventure and conversation. But rarely do we see them on the toilet. This week, we spread awareness that toilets matter.

Help spread the call for human dignity and basic sanitary health. If you have a blog where you post your response, please link to UNICEF and continue to raise awareness of this campaign.

November 19, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the toilet. You can be funny, serious or prim-and-proper. Any variation of toilet is fair fodder (loo, privy, outhouse, shitter, porcelain throne, potty, latrine, necessarium, little girl’s room, the water closet, powder room, comfort station, etc.).

Respond by November 25 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here.

Here’s a clip from A Christmas Story about the importance of the only room in the house that a boy of nine could find privacy:

***

Finding Relief by Charli Mills

Becky fidgeted. Twice, Mrs. Hart turned from the chalkboard, glaring her into stillness. At recess, Becky bound to the porch, grabbed her coat and pushed past Tommy. A foot of snow covered the ground with a packed trail leading behind the schoolhouse. Becky ran, her leather boots slipping.

โ€œBecky!โ€ It was Tessa calling from behind. Becky motioned her friend to follow. Both girls reached the outhouse, pulling the wooden door shut behind them, fumbling with skirts, petticoats and knickers to finally sit in relief.

Stepping outside the boys had spelled their names in the snow. It was not fair.

###

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53 Comments

  1. Rachel E. Bledsoe

    I love this. You have finally answered a writing question I have always pondered. Don’t the characters ever potty? It seems natural they would. Do you write it in though? And this is a cause many never think about but it is so desperately needed. Loved your story. Boys and snow, it happens every time, age doesn’t matter.

    • Charli Mills

      I know! Characters seem to have these endless bladders. But it’s interesting that in our toilet taboo we have neglected to think about the impact of the need to go on every day life. Yeah, I have an old toddler (aka the Hub) who still thinks peeing in the snow is fun.

  2. Sarah Brentyn

    I am laughing so hard from the clip from A Christmas Story! I think I woke my kids up. ๐Ÿ˜€

    This is a fantastic prompt. I can NOT wait to see where everyone *goes* with this one. Har. Somebody stop me.

    • Sarah Brentyn

      P.S. I absolutely loved Anne’s “Bathroom Suite”. If you haven’t read it, please do. It’s brilliant flash.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s one of my favorite movies! Ha, ha…you couldn’t hold it, could you?

      • Sarah Brentyn

        We’re on a (toilet paper) roll.

        Okay, that’s it now — I mean it!

      • Charli Mills

        I’m flushed with laughter!

  3. TanGental

    Note to self. More toilets in my tales. It’s a worthy cause too. I will go look at Anne’s next

    • Charli Mills

      We’re breaking the literary toilet taboo! ๐Ÿ™‚ Anne’s story is fabulous!

  4. Annecdotist

    Charli, thanks so much for taking this on board in such a big way and so love your flash. I’m sure there’ll be lots of humour this time. And of course the smallest room in the house is a great place for letting our imaginations run wild.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for pushing the potty! Yes, humor will find its way, I’m sure but it is a worthy topic to take up in consideration of a greater world-wide need. I even managed a potty scene in my WIP yesterday!

  5. susanzutautas

    Sorry I’ve not been around lately but I’m looking forward to getting back to Flash Fiction. Love the prompt and we all gotta go when we gotta go ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Sherri

    At last catching up here Charli! Thanks for pointing us in the right direction (no pun intended, ha) re UNICEF and World Toilet Day, I honestly had no idea such a day existed. It wasn’t uncommon for those in my grandparents generation to use outhouses as loos but obviously, what you share here is a very different matter. Love the flash prompt (and your flash)so many ideas already flowing (now that one was intended) ๐Ÿ˜€ A Christmas Story is one of my favourite Christmas films of all time, love, love,love this. My middle boy always wanted a B B gun (he did get one) and I was always going around saying ‘You’ll shoot your eye out with that thing’ ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Charli Mills

      I didn’t know about World Toilet Day until I had read a flash story that Anne Goodwin wrote earlier. It was one those stories I couldn’t stop thinking about. So when she posted a remember of the upcoming event, I made it my aim to potty talk! ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s a broad subject stretching between luxury and daily deprivation. Since we don’t really talk about toilets in literature, I think we fail to see how innovations have developed or how basic needs still need to be met. It’s a worrisome topic for girls, especially. It will be fascinating what stories will be flushed out this week! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Sherri

        Quite…and how timely that we should be talking about not having any TP in the house… ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Charli Mills

        What is with my memory? I forgot to remind the Hub again! ๐Ÿ˜€

    • TanGental

      Beetchez!

    • Charli Mills

      Great detail–tossing the Bic in the toilet. It really sets the tone and image of the scene. We’re going to have to come up with a phrase like “it was the bomb.” It was a flusher! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Annecdotist

    Well, I had some odd reactions on Wednesday telling people at my choir about World Toilet Day, but at least they’re a little bit wiser. I’m so pleased you’ve found this way of getting the message to so many more people.
    So I’ve done my flush (I mean flash) and added it to the end of my original Toilet Day post:
    http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdotal/world-toilet-day-the-twitter-gems-you-might-have-missed-last-year
    I’m off to check Sarah’s now.

    • Charli Mills

      I’m flushed that you’ve flashed! Your Bathroom Suite is a story that has stuck with me. Thanks for sharing the cause with me. Adding your flash to your original post is great idea!

    • Sarah Brentyn

      That’s lovely. And sad. Perfect add-on to your World Toilet Day post.

  8. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Impressed by all the piddling words you managed to get into your first sentence and love that you have taken up the cause. So many more people will know of it now as a result of these flashes and preambles. Mine is here
    http://irenewaters19.com/2014/11/23/99-word-flash-fiction-toilets/
    Off now to look at Anne’s, Sarah’s and Geoff’s. Your flash brought back those memories of busting to go and also the inequality between men and women when it comes to where we relieve ourselves. I’ve always thought it unfair.

    • Charli Mills

      Not only are we getting toilet stories, but a great collection of puns! Some days recess couldn’t come fast enough and our toilets were accessible from outside so I recall trudging through the snow and battling to get to the one stall first! It was easier on the boys.

    • Charli Mills

      Hee…hee…the toilet bowl offering…

  9. rllafg

    Preliminary Flush by Larry LaForge

    Ozzie and Izzie give each other the nod. They know the drill.

    These two water molecules have pledged to maintain their hydrogen bond through thick and thin. Theyโ€™re in the toilet โ€” literally โ€” but have a plan to escape unscathed.

    A sudden movement from above alerts them. Exactly as planned, Ozzie and Izzie immediately begin rocking back and forth in unison. The patron takes the bait, instinctively hitting the flush lever after seeing a disconcerting water ripple in the bowl.

    Ozzie and Izzie high-five each other as they joyfully exit through the plumbing.

    They made it out before the storm!

    *****
    The 100-word version of this story is posted at larrylaforge100words on Flash Fiction Magazine:
    http://flashfictionmagazine.com/larrylaforge100words/2014/11/23/preliminary-flush/

    • Charli Mills

      My favorite water molecules return! Ha, ha! What a narrow escape…before the storm! That’s great!

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch! I’d say, jump right in and get your feet wet, except we’re talking toilets this week! Glad to have you!

  10. Norah

    Hi Charli, great post, prompt and responses so far. We had the old outhouses “dunnies” at home until I was near ten. We used newspaper (no tissue toilet roll), and a scoop of sawdust to cover our addition to the can which was collected weekly by ‘the dunny man’ and replaced with a fresh can for the next week. Am I glad those days are long gone! I have written a response but may not get to post it as I have no internet except on my iPad. I’ll just have to hold on for a wee while longer!

    • Charli Mills

      Hold it, Norah! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d not heard the phrase “dunnies” before. We didn’t have cans, just a stinky deep pit in the ground below. But you’ve jogged my memory. I do recall using sawdust. Also my father nailed a coffee can to the side of our box (it was an “open air” loo, just a box with a hole over a dug pit) for toilet paper. Woohoo! Better than newspaper! Or those things that Geoff mentioned…Hope you get to “go” soon and post! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Norah

        I think “dunny” is quintessentially Australian. Here is a link to some images http://goo.gl/yHwakm and some information here http://goo.gl/6LCkgz I’m back online at the moment! I hope it stays that way! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Charli Mills

        Great name, dunny! Thanks for sharing the photos and interesting dunnies across the outback! Yay! Glad to have you back online!

      • Norah

        Thanks Charli. It’s great to be back! Lots of catching up to do! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Charli Mills

        Pick up where you can! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Charli Mills

      So many tales of the toilet! Thanks for flushing, I mean flashing, your own! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Pete

    Mason was lapping up the water from his favorite commode when they arrived. He came up for air, tilting his head as toilet water dripped from his jowls.

    He arrived with a sliding to a stop, just before he ran out of hardwood. Aunt Janice scowled so Mason ducked under the table, finding Alice, who was always ready to scratch an ear. Detecting some cracker remnants, he couldnโ€™t help himself from dragging his tongue up her cheek to check.

    โ€œMason, no!โ€ Steve said, but Alice laughed.

    โ€œOh, itโ€™s okay, they say a dogโ€™s mouth is cleaner than a humans.โ€

  12. Pete

    Waterlogged

    Mason was lapping up the water from his favorite commode when they arrived. He came up for air, tilting his head as toilet water dripped from his jowls.

    He slid to a stop just before he ran out of hardwood. Aunt Janice stood scowling so Mason ducked under the table, finding Alice, who was always ready to scratch an ear.Detecting some cracker remnants, he nosed closer, unable to help himself from dragging his tongue up her cheek to check.

    โ€œMason, no!โ€ Someone yelled, but Alice laughed.

    โ€œItโ€™s okay, they say a dogโ€™s mouth is cleaner than a humans.โ€

    • Charli Mills

      I think we got to watch your writing process, Pete! ๐Ÿ™‚ It looks similar to my own. This story reflects the preferred dog bowl in our house. An added benefit to indoor plumbing!

  13. Norah

    Hi Charli,
    There’s still no internet available on my home computer so I am unable to post on my blog. I’m going to experiment by re-typing my flash response on my iPad and copying and pasting it into your comments. So if you are reading this, I’ve been successful! Yay! I’ll publish my accompanying post once I have full internet access again.

    Toilet Sanctuary
    “Miss. Marnie’s locked herself in the toilet and won’t come out.”
    “What now?” I thought, scanning the troubled face pleading for assistance as much as to be absolved of blame.
    “Okay,” I reassured Jasmine. “Let’s go see what’s up.”
    As we hurried to the toilet block Jasmine reiterated her innocence, she hadn’t done anything, she didn’t know what was wrong (it wasn’t her fault).
    “I know,” I smiled. The toilet cubicles had frequently been Marnie’s sanctuary. But not for weeks. Jasmine’s kind-hearted friendship had seen to that.
    “She’s got her unicorn again,” Jasmine whispered.
    “Oh,” I said.

    • Charli Mills

      Yay! You were successful! Bummer about the Internet, though. Hope you get back online soon! But also, enjoy the freedom! ๐Ÿ™‚

      This character of yours is getting into my heart. I hope you continue to write her story!

  14. Norah

    Thanks Charlie. I’m pleased it worked. Just needed to think outside the box a bit! Thanks for your encouragement re Marnie’s story. I appreciate your prompts that enable me to explore it a little more. Will think about it taking it further, though fiction is not a priority at the moment. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Charli Mills

      Marnie has such potential for not only her own story, but a tale of what matters in education as an institution that serves children. I’m glad you continue to explore it!

      • Norah

        Thanks Charlie, I am enjoying doing so. Who knows where it may take me. Here is a link to my post which I’ve finally been able to release! http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-lx Thanks for your support, encouragement and patience! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Charli Mills

        Yay! A terrific post, too! I have your title linked to it now.

      • Norah

        Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Tally Pendragon

    Oh dear, talk about silly billies and woolly heads, this week I had the flash ready, all neatly tied up in bog roll in its blog post, published it, then forgot to post it on Carrot Ranch! And I soooooo enjoyed the theme this week too. Well, I’m posting it anyway, even if it is technically too late! So here it is, for the toilet humoured among us …

    http://wp.me/p4rcRJ-g2

    Slightly less than brightest blessings this week, but still blessings,
    Tally ????????????

    • Charli Mills

      That’s okay because the magic of digital is the ease of updating! You will find your story and link among other toilets in the compilation! Bright blessings as always! ๐Ÿ™‚

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 99 word flash fiction: Toilets | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist) - […] side to toilets which is the reason that something to do with toilets became the topic of this prompt…
  2. Flush with ideas | TanGental - […] Anne Goodwin started it with her post on World Toilet Day. A serious topic that is reeks of humour.…
  3. In the Bathroom | freshpaula - […] November 19 Prompt: Toilet (Write a story that includes a toilet. In honor of World Toilet Day) Flash Fiction…
  4. Which is your favourite thinking room? | Norah Colvin - […] decided to use her flash fiction challenge to โ€œspread awareness that toilets matter.โ€ She invited readers to โ€œHelp spread…

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