World Toilet Day happens every November 19th to remind us of the vital role toilets play in our health and happiness. In this collection, we celebrate the toilet in its many forms and influences.
Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.
Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.
Toi Let or not to Toi Let by Bill Engleson
Sometimes the prompt is rather iffy,
I rarely dwell on it;
I jot down thoughts…in a jiffy,
A flash, a song, a sonnet.
Yes, I have raw writer’s remorse,
A dose of white porcelain regret,
You write your bit, stay the course,
complete your work, your sweet vignette.
And then one day, a newer tone,
A wondrous prompt, a flash quite spiffy.
An account of the basement zone,
The tailback john, the backup biffy.
We had but one in my long ago,
It opened to the kitchenette,
We would watch the traffic flow,
From table et to loud toilet.
Ode de (bleep) by Dog Jacquier
In the fifties in the USA
on TV this was a word you couldn’t say.
‘Powder your nose’ if you were a ma’am
or ‘see a man about a dog’ if you were Sam.
‘Bathrooms’ were allowed but never an inkle
that this was where you went for a tinkle.
I suppose it was for our moral improvement;
that ‘To Let’ was born from creative vowel movement.
Here in Australia we were proud of our dunny*
where we deposited our stools, either firm or runny.
Amongst the redbacks* and the daily news,
be it Number Ones or Number Twos.
Dunny – Australian slang for (bleep)
Redback – Venomous Australian spider, inspiration for the song ‘Red Back On The (bleep) Seat
Oasis Stasis by D. Avery
It was not a mirage, it was marriage, marriage all-inclusive, with children, pets, dishes, laundry, and working from home. It was enough to blur her vision and make her misty at times but there was an oasis, a peaceful place to recover, to take respite from the whirlwinds that swept through the house.
Gathering up clothes and other debris, flotsam wake of the twins, she paused and smiled at the picture book, Everybody Poops. It had been a hit with her older children too.
She shuddered with a sudden realization. Potty-trained twins would mean increased competition for her oasis!
The End by Norah Colvin (with apologies to Alan Alexander Milne)
When I was one and had just begun
Nappies were where my business was done.
When I was two, not nearly so new
A training potty was home for my poo.
When I was three, I was learning to pee
In a toilet that flushed away to the sea.
When I was four or not much more
I learned to be private behind a closed door.
When I was five, school days had arrived
And toilets were places to play and hide.
When I get old, or so I am told,
A clean handy toilet is precious as gold.
Time Out by Joanne Fisher
Tess sat on the toilet. She usually avoided loud parties, but had been dragged to this one by a close friend. It didn’t take long for her to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of people in the house, and so she ran off to the bathroom where she could be alone. She could leave, but that would involve trying to find her friend again. Tess sat there listening to the music thudding through the walls. All she wanted was to have just a few minutes of peace and quiet to gather her thoughts. Someone knocked on the door.
Last Room Standing by D. Avery
“Really? I’m going to the bathroom!”
(A euphemism. She’d already gone to the bathroom, was now in the bathroom and sitting on the toilet using it for its intended purpose.)
Though originally she’d gone just to be away from him. Victor was getting carried away again. (Another euphemism; he was out of control yelling and screaming.) Not at her. Something on TV. Still. And now he wanted her to unlock the door?
Victor yelled a lot but had difficulties communicating clearly. He never stated why she should let him in…
The tornado carried him away. (Not a euphemism.)
Hole In One by Ritu Bhathal
“But I need to go, right now!” Serena squirmed in the backseat of the car.
“Hold on. It’s not like England, here.” Her mother leaned forward. “Will we be able to stop soon?” She asked her husband, sitting in the passenger seat, as the driver weaved between the traffic.
They pulled up at a small roadside restaurant, with a few tables set, haphazardly, outside.
“There.” The driver pointed to a tatty door.
Serena ran in, and straight out.
“That was quick!”
“I can’t go in there. It’s just a hole!”
“Welcome to India Memsahib!” The driver grinned.
The Little House by R. V. Mitchell
Some called it “the little house on the prairie,” and others the latrine or head. But that little corrugated steel shack was the prime real estate in camp. Yes, the “head-shed” or battalion headquarters might’ve been more prestigious, and the CP tent that served as the chapel might have been more revered. Many would tell you that the chow hall was the most important structure in camp, or the dugouts and bunkers if there was a mortar attack going down. But, truth be told, when several days of backed up C-rations called, no place else was going to compare.
Sanitary Arrangements at the World’s End by Anne Goodwin
How dare he? My hand trembles as I slide the bolt across the bathroom door. We are not savages. Yet!
A weekly wash in a bucket of water. Cooking on a fire built from antique furniture. Feasting on food I would formerly have thrown away. But nothing will induce me to shit outdoors.
Grime coats the basin. The stench goes beyond my unwashed clothes. But I have three packs of quilted toilet roll with aloe vera. I refuse to straddle a trench.
Unzipping my fly, I raise the lid. Recoil in horror as a rat leaps from the pan.
Waiting by D. Avery
“Don’t make me laugh, Angela. I have to pee. Bad.”
“Me too. Let’s go.”
“I can’t go in there.”
“It’s the ladies’ room. Come on.”
Celia pulled back when Angela took her hand, leading her toward the entrance. “Angela, no!”
The old towel woman stood, picked up a broom. Head ducked, she watched the girls carefully. The other women paused in their gossiping to turn tight-lipped stares on the girls. Celia broke away and ran off to the further toilets.
One woman swept. The other women resumed their gossip. All paused again when Angela started running.
“Celia! Wait up!”
Love and Porcelain by Kerry E.B. Black
“You’re my best friend. That’s why I’m hugging you. I hug what I love..” Starr leaned against her smaller – and less drunk – friend, Autumn.
Autumn shifted her weight to support her friend. “Love you, too. Keep walking, though. You said you didn’t feel well.”
Starr froze, concern broadcasting across her features.
Terror gripped Autumn. “Hold on, honey! Just a few more steps.”
They plod-hurried like ungainly sack-race contestants into the bar’s women’s room. Autumn held Starr’s hair. “Better out than in,” she reassured.
Emptied, Starr clasped the cool porcelain. “I love this toilet bowl!”
“Well, you are hugging it.”
For the Love of a Toilet by Peniel Gifted
Jim! Mama shouted as the door flung open. Like a purging soul, Jim hurried to the toilet. “M….a…” he answered in a sickly voice. “Where are you, didn’t I ask you to take this clothe to my tailor?” His mother echoed furiously. “I’m running stool” he replied. “Oh sorry, I’ll take it there myself. Take good care of yourself.” Mama said and left for her tailor. Jim was so glad. He had pretended to be ill so he won’t go to the tailor and would have time, chatting with his girlfriend. Taking out his phone, he pressed and blushed.
Like a Toilet by FloridaBorne
In 1950, Alexander whined, “But, Mom…”
“Not until we find a toilet!” she said, marching toward her target location.
“No!” he yelled, running to the toy section.
An 8 year old was so predictable.
She rushed to a stall, cursing the day she was forced to marry at 44, relieved when Alexander couldn’t be found, happy to lose the husband who had a heart attack over his son’s loss.
She hadn’t expected the couple who’d bought him to die in a car accident, or to be reunited with her son, now 20.
Like a toilet, he could be useful.
(35) Damned Family (Jesse’s Uncomfortable on the Golden Throne) by JulesPaige
tormented visions she sees
her cheeks reflected in mirrors
Jesse tried to use the fancy Presidential suites commode. There were just too many mirrors. Looking at her reflection – her thoughts were far from down to earth flopping between “She just gets it” or “She lies”.
Norman’s journal wasn’t really revealing much. Even the pages with invisible words that she brought to life with ultraviolet light. It’s just smoke and mirrors – what was Norman up to. She found a name though that didn’t fit. She’d known him as Norman North… she’d found an invisible acrostic with ‘Mae Norwich’.
The Throne by Ruchira Khanna
“Sure, I can babysit my seven-year-old niece.”
“Thanks, Sis.” Pedro grinned, “I’ll pick her up by 9 p.m.”
The evening was going well until Sarah needed to use the potty.
I took her to the bathroom. She stood there with a dazed look. I beckoned her to sit on the potty; she squealed and placed her fingers on her parted lips, then moved back n forth.
Perplexed, I left her alone and stood outside. Time ticked away.
I peeped in to find that she was seated on the floor and playing peek-a-boo with her reflection on the gold-plated toilet.
Two Worlds by Saifun Hassam
The cottage toilet was ordinary enough, with a faux wood seat, and cover. For Caitlin, it was her own private place. The cottage, with its fragrant shrubs, was a refuge from her caregiving duties. When her stomach roiled from overwhelming worries and arguments, the toilet eased the tension.
Caitlin was a caregiver for her Aunt Shelby, whose three daughters had neither the willingness nor the patience to care for her. How could the family drift away from each other?
Caitlin was an orphan and a student at the community college. The cottage with its own toilet was sheer luxury.
Hideaway by Eliza Mimski
It was her safe place, her special place where she went to hide, the bathroom lock punched in, her husband given no other choice but to pick up the screaming baby because here she was on the toilet, the glorious toilet, her hideaway where she could make her escape and no one, not one person could expect anything from her – nothing! -for the next two minutes or even thirty seconds, giving her time to lay her head down on her lap and almost relax for a blessed amount of time that came in second only to her broken sleep.
Toilet Training Gone Awry by Marsha Ingrao
When her kids started toddling, Sarah Clay guarded minutes of alone time like a jeweled crown. With few places to hide, Sarah treasured the toilet time. She clicked the lock.
The two year old twins wailed.
“Lance!” she said, pulling him inside. The twins tumbled in waving books.
No more locks.
As her ducklings aged, they invited friends in too.
“Sorry,” George said.
George wasn’t sorry.
“We can’t reach the milk,” Lance followed George in.
Sarah peered over the paper on her lap.
How did toilet training go so wrong?
The Toilet to Hell by Joanne Fisher
“Ashley honey, you okay?’ Steffi asked as she knocked on the door. Ashley had been in the toilet for quite some time now. Cautiously Steffi opened the door to find she was gone. “Son of a bitch!” Steffi shouted as she closed the toilet lid.
Everyone had wondered how Steffi could afford her luxury apartment that was in an ideal location. She told everyone it was because the toilet was demonically possessed, but nobody believed her. Regardless of that, she loved her new apartment even if her toilet did occasionally eat people. She was going to miss Ashley though.
Alone with the Throne by Cara Stefano
Ever since she could remember, Mary, often considered an odd duck, had loved to clean – especially bathrooms. It gave her such pleasure to see the sparkling mirrors, the fresh waters of a newly cleaned toilet bowl, to know she was seeing a job well done. When she bought a little miner’s house in upper Michigan she was disappointed to realize it only had one bathroom! Her first day home she descended into the gloomy basement, only to stop, amazed – in a halo of light, standing alone in the corner, another toilet!
The Privy by Jaye Marie
I am old enough to remember sitting on an outdoor toilet, or privy as some people call them.
How dark it was in Winter, with spiders lurking, patiently waiting to drop on your head while you spent a penny.
If you go back far enough in time, hardly anyone had indoor plumbing. The age of an outdoor water pump and a tin bath in front of the fire. Just one bath full of warm water for everyone on the family to use.
I often used to wonder if the last person came out dirtier than when they went in!
Feeding the Soul by Sue Spitulnik
The night before Thanksgiving the No Thanks Needed welcomed military members only. The Band of Brothers served turkey and fixin’s, prepared by their families, to any service person who came through the door. After the meal, Mac announced, “Being thankful for family and friends goes without saying, but if you ever fought in a warzone, hot running water, and a flushable toilet are right up there on the list.” The crowd cheered with understanding and others shouted; food, clean clothes, life, the brotherhood. Service-related stories were shared openly until the wee hours of the morning in the comfortable safe-haven.
Aged Timbers by Ann Edall-Robson
His hat tipped back on his head, a visitor of years rests on a creaky wooden seat smoking his pipe. Wispy tendrils of smoke drift through the doorless entry. From behind relaxed eyelids, the memories sidle across the meadow.
He appreciates the slightly askew structure. The only building still standing in these parts. A welcome respite after hours in the saddle. More comfortable than the log his bare behind would have sat on had he trailed the heifers across the creek.
He wondered how long the aged timbers would stand. He’d miss this old friend and their quiet conversations.
Revenge Awaits by Donna Matthews
“Let me tell you something,” I whisper gently.
His body, interested, shifts toward me.
My lips brushing against his ear, and with as much volume as I can muster, I scream,
“YOU LEFT THE TOILET SEAT UP AGAIN LAST NIGHT, AND MY ASS FELL IN THE WATER! NOT ONLY DID I GET WET, I JERKED UP AND SLIPPED ON THE SPLASHED WATER!!! I SLIPPED AND HIT MY HEAD ON THE CORNER ON THE TRASH CAN!”
Startled, he rears back, trying not to laugh, apologizing all the while untangling himself from the bedsheets, wholly unaware of the revenge awaiting him.
Tanks Anyway by D Avery
“Pal, where ya headed? We need ta confer on the Saloon schedule.”
“Stand jist outside the door if’n it cain’t wait, Kid.”
“Ah, shift, yer headed ta the outhouse!”
“Nope. Shorty’s brought plumbin’ ta the bunkhouse, got us a flush toil-it. Now shut the door or it’ll be a blush toil-it.”
“Well don’t toil too long in there. What was wrong with the outhouse anyway?”
“Don’t be anti-septic Kid. My home’s my castle, I reckon I’ll set on the throne once in a while.”
“Won’t be rushed. An’ no job is finished till the paperwork is done.”
How an’ Zen by D. Avery
“Sorry, Kid, didn’t see ya in there.”
“Well I am. Kin shut the door anytime Pal.”
“Yep. Ya remin’ me a thet statue, The Thinker.”
“Settin’ an’ thinkin’, Pal.”
“Yep. ‘Cept might be more acc’rate ta call ya The Stinker.”
“Funny. The door?”
“What’re ya thinkin’ ‘bout?”
“Was readin’ here ‘bout a Zen master asked a monk, ‘Where will ya go after death?’ Monk says, ‘’Scuse me fer a minute, I gotta go to the toil-it.’”
“Deep shit, Kid.”
“Yep. After, might go set in the Poet-tree, write an ode ta the commode.”
“Pal. The door’s still ajar…”
I’m usually rather squeamish about toilets and what goes in them (says the horror writer 🙄), but I enjoyed reading this collection. There’s always several different ways to approach the subject and this collection shows it.
Says the horror writer, lol! Yeah, it’s a shared taboo subject that makes us feel uncomfortable, yet a topic that we can include to help create toileting awareness. It was interesting to see themes and ideas emerge, including horror.
Congrats to all. None of you were s***house. Special calls of nature to Norah, Davery, Ritu, Anne, Kerry, Ruchira and Eliza.
This week’s top prize…Yellow Ribbons for Special Calls to Nature! 😉
Charli takes a “break”. Does the Ranch go to sh**? No and yes. I was glad that World Toilet Day was featured at the Ranch. I’m not the thinker that Kid is, but I definitely learned from this prompt and this group. I’m sure this prompt wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but underneath the humor is the growing awareness of a dire situation worthy of our attention. Thank you to those who spread WTD’s message and mission and provided information, links and background through your comments and at your sites. It is clear that this community of writers and readers give a crap. (https://au.whogivesacrap.org/pages/our-impact)
Thanks for talking crap and keeping it real, D. Who Gives a Crap allows us to keep on giving! Time to Deck the Stalls (their holiday logo).
Fabulous collection. Thanks to every writer who joined in.