Afraid To Go
by Jarrett Mazza
I pee in the middle of the night at least twelve times before I am finally able to fall asleep. My bladder is small, so small that I sometimes go only minutes after I have had anything to drink. I try not to drink, but Listerine dries out my mouth, and I find myself craving the sensation of cool liquid against my tongue and easing down my throat.
I don’t turn on the lights because they wake me up. Instead, I sit and I wait; and whenever I do this, that’s when it starts, when the pain comes, and before I can be rid of it, it’s inside me and I can’t let go, not until I pee, not until I go.
I live alone in a one-bedroom apartment in an overcrowded building and with tenants who are rowdy. I do not disturb anyone when I wake during the night. However, on the rare occasion, I will get a visit from our building superintendent, Mr. Bleesmen, but being a single woman in a somewhat busy city, I do try and stay quiet, and even though I try, and sometimes succeed, that still doesn’t make feel any better.
“Uhhhh,” I moan as I feel the stream approaching. There is nothing in the bathroom other than the darkness. I look down at the space between my legs and see that it is as black as the rest of the room. I cannot hear my urine when it hits the water and I also don’t see anything beneath. Sometimes I imagine that there’s something else swimming in the bowl. I know that it’s a dumb idea, one that only a child would think of, and yet each night I go to the bathroom, I feel as though there is something else lurking, waiting, watching me as I sit.
On the nights I am completely exhausted, almost to the point where I can barely stand let alone squat and push, I cannot tell if I am asleep or awake. Sometimes I dream that I am in the bathroom, going, and then I wake seconds later and discover that I haven’t gone at all.
I hate it when that happens.
I turn on the lights whenever I feel scared, but then I ask myself what is there to be scared of? Then I feel it again. It’s small, at first, or at least I think that it is, and if not for the fact that I am feeling frightened, I probably wouldn’t have felt anything at all. But, as I try to force myself to ignore what it is that’s happening, I soon realize that I can’t, because there is something crawling up the back of my leg, creeping up as I sit alone in the dark.
I rush off the seat, not pulling my panties up as I step. I turn on the lights, hurry back to see what it was, but I find nothing. I look down at the toilet, hoping to see something inside. Maybe it’s something small, like a tadpole or another fish that I have conjured from my imagination.
I wasn’t always this way; not afraid of bathrooms, of toilets, and certainly not of things that are swimming around in them. All of my fears have an origin. Like so many other things there is an explanation, a reason why people are the way that they are, and I know what mine is.
“Go on in,” my mother urged me.
I was ten when it happened.
“But I don’t wanna,” I remembered saying to her.
“You’re just being silly,” she snapped. “Now get inside and go like everyone else.”
My mother was frustrated and she always refused to give in whenever I whined. We were in a public restroom, in a trailer park we were visiting. Trailers also scared me. There was something unsettling about a place where people stayed so close to one another. I didn’t want to visit the park and I certainly wasn’t pleased to be where I was, in a public restroom, with wooden doors, and several kids who were all wet from swimming.
“Go on now!”
After my mother scolded me, she abruptly pushed me into one of the stalls while the other children chuckled and laughed. I could feel my stomach rumbling and wondered when my bowels were going to explode and, as soon as I stepped into the room, with all the other children, the urge to go had left me and I couldn’t go.
The toilets were dirty and there were only a few squares left on the roll for wiping, and I knew they wouldn’t work well because of how wet my anus was. I didn’t want to slip off my swimsuit because I knew how disgusting it would feel when it hit the floor. I also knew that there were other children waiting, and this made me more anxious, made my stomach ache, and made it that much harder for me to begin.
“Have you gone yet?!”
My mother shouted through the door.
I was trembling and when I pushed, I felt tension on my lower intestines, and I tried to fight to get the urge back but it was still gone. My mother was still yelling and I was about to shout back and tell her to piss off, but I knew that if I did that she would likely kick down the door, turn me over, and spank my ass until I shit all over myself. I felt like it was about to come out of me like lava, but then something else happened. There was a hand touching me.
“Uhhh, yeah, that’s it. Go for me, baby. Go. Go.”
I shuddered before leaping off the seat and to my feet. “Ahhh!”
I pulled up my swimsuit and looked into the bowl. Before I came here, I was under the impression that it was like all the others: private, secure, and with a drain that lead to a sewage system, but not this one. This one lead to the outdoors and there was no water or flush anywhere in sight. There was only a hole and a man standing in it, looking up at me with a pronounced, sinister grin and winking before he opened his mouth. “Go.”
The voice was ensnaring and, if it were an animate and tangible object, I imagined it would feel as hard as sandpaper and strong enough to bind even the strongest person. The man in the toilet was covered in feces and reeking of a smell so foul that I could still feel it crawling through my nostrils and down my throat, upsetting my fragile and scarred stomach.
“Finish.” His darkened eyes were the only part of his body left revealed amidst the blanket of waste that gave him the appearance of a swampy, monster of filth. He was watching me as if I were a twinkling star and, before he could reach up and snatch me, I yelled a terrible scream that quaked the entire room.
“Oh my God. What is it?” My mother burst through the door, grabbed me, and then looked down at the man. “Ahhhh!”
Her scream was the last thing I remembered hearing before the police came. After this man was apprehended, I awakened hours later, in a squad car, wrapped in a blanket and looking around at five cops standing throughout the area.
“It’s going to be all right,” one of them said. “You’re safe here, with us.”
The female officer who was speaking had given me a can of cold soda that she said would help take the edge off. For a while, it did, until I heard my mother screaming at another officer.
“Who the hell was that?! What the hell was he doing in the goddamn toilet?!”
The female officer urged me to drink more. “Just keep drinking. It will help.”
I sipped the juice through a straw and felt the sugar rushing through my shivering body.
“Why was he in there?” I asked, after I had gathered my thoughts.
“He’s a scatophiliac,” the female police officer replied after she too took some time to think about what she had said. “Do you know what that is?”
I didn’t know.
“It’s someone who likes to have other people...” she struggled to say the next part, “go... on them.”
“It’s complicated. I’m just sorry you had to see it, but you know what: the good thing is it’ll never happen, not to you, not again. This man is being charged and he will never be allowed on this property.”
I looked away from the female police officer and to the other car, where the man was being held. He had a towel wrapped around his shoulders but still looked brown and dirty. He was handcuffed, and his body was turned to face the window, a window that he was staring through as he looked at me with fierce and brooding eyes.
I learned that day, in more ways than I ever had before, that there are ugly things in this world; vicious, dark things. You don’t know about them, but when you do see such things they leave bad feelings inside your gut that go deep, and no matter how hard you might try to get rid of it, it finds a way to stay with you. It hurts. I didn’t think there were sick things like that, but there is, and it was at that moment, in the trailer park all those years ago, that I began to think if people like that can exist, then what else does, too?
I am sitting on the toilet. It is the middle of the night and this is the third time that I have awakened to go to the bathroom. I have tried to fall asleep and tried to forget what happened to me, but the fear, it still remains. I can control it, certainly, but controlling fear is not quite so different from trying to control the urge to piss or the urge to shit. The more you try, the more difficult it becomes, and the more you try to stay where you are, sitting alone in the dark trying to change what is, you eventually realize you can’t.
You’re done. You’re stuck.
There is a drop lingering that I struggled to get there. I still have to go, and the more I wait, the more the urge flees, and then I feel air blowing from underneath me. It’s small, the way it was the last time, and gentle, the way it was the last time, and although every ounce of logic assures me that what I think might be happening cannot be, I still have to go.
I hope I will and, when I do, I want to feel better than I do now. I hope I can stop being afraid and that I will sit on this toilet without having to feel something else creeping from below. I will turn on the lights and see if there is anything beneath me, but then I know that I can’t. I am still afraid of what’s lurking below.
Copyright © 2017 by Jarrett Mazza