A Stall Story

by, Isis Dae Duncan

Every time the bells of the campus church chime to announce the twelfth hour’s arrival, like clockwork my body signals that it is time to relieve myself. Therefore it came as no surprise that when I heard the routine noise I stopped highlighting mid-sentence, got up from my chair, and went to the nearest bathroom in the library. I pulled open the door to the restroom and immediately sensed the lemony scent of Lysol, an indicator that the stalls were freshly cleaned. For a second I felt guilty: by the end of the ordeal the scent would be replaced by an unfriendly odor. I decided that for the good of humanity (humanity being represented by myself) it had to be done. I was walking over to my signature stall when I heard a shuffle. 

Shit, I thought to myself. I should mention this thought was not towards the deed I was about to do, but a girl pissing in the next stall over.

I closed the stall door behind me and covered the toilet seat with a generous amount of paper, and then waited for my neighbor to flush, wash, and leave. Then came nothing. Not one sign that denoted she would leave soon. In a bold decision I cleared my throat. Still nothing. What is she doing? There was no smell coming from her side, so she hadn’t come for the same reason as I had. Everyone knew that if someone in another stall had pissed and remained on the seat for more than a few minutes, it was time for you to leave and give some privacy to the poor soul. It was already hard enough mustering the willpower to poop in a public restroom.

I tried to pass the time by studying the notes written on the stall walls. Typical curses took up the better part of the walls and clashed with the confessions of love sprinkled in. “No one likes you Becky!!!” was engraved on the door in Sharpie. Poor Becky, I thought. Someone must like her. I imagined the author of the note sitting down, using her pen to scribble out her frustration concerning the girl. What did Becky do to her? If I had brought my pen I would’ve made my mark too, writing out my problems or responding to everyone else’s. My eyes traveled down to the worn tiles of the bathroom, a checkered black and white. Some pieces were coming up and gray cement was exposed. Just like the tiles I would crack at any moment. I took a peek at the girl’s feet, totally relaxed in a pair of black pumps. There were no visible signs of strain or pointing of toes inward. This confirmed that she was done in the stall. 

A few more minutes of awkward silence followed, and then suddenly I heard the sound of a viral video come from her phone. Of course it’d be her phone, I thought. Everyone uses the bathroom with their phone. It’s quite nasty if you think about it. You wipe your nether regions and wash your hands, but do you ever wipe down your phone?

I heard a flush and the stall door creaked open. On cue my body geared back up, building up pressure in order to expel the unwanted contents. The water ran in the sink for a while, and Black Pumps ripped off a piece of paper towel to dry her hands with. She was inches away from pulling open the bathroom door and going back to the library when a friend came in. My insides tightened and a sharp internal pain shot up my sphincter. I knew what was coming: the “Hi, how are you?” questions, the subtle transition into gossip about girls they did like, didn’t like or otherwise had no opinion of but were included in discussion anyway, as well as touch ups of their makeup and hair mixed in. My bowel movement would be put off even further. It was beginning to become rather unbearable. 

I checked the newcomer’s shoes and saw fuschia colored flats. I let out a heavy sigh.

I looked at my watch some time later. I had been stuck in the stall for near twenty minutes now, and began to have what I would later deem a small existential crisis. Why has God kept me in the bathroom for so long? Have I committed some terrible sin? Is there some enlightenment to be achieved from this occasion?  What could I possibly discover about the world’s secrets from inside the shitter? Is there even a God? 

Leaning my head against the wall, I quietly chastised myself for such a melodramatic episode. The situation isn’t that serious. I’ll be fine. I half-listened to the girls outside of my stall and began to wonder why on earth girls insisted on spending so much time in the restroom. Granted I had been guilty of such on a few occasions, but never in such an extreme manner. How many people could you talk about, how many coats of mascara could you apply knowing someone else was in the bathroom listening in and waiting on you?

My questions were ended with an epiphany. Why was I waiting? The bathroom had been dubbed “the shitter” for a reason. Bathrooms were meant to be used to their full capacity. Publics bathrooms were no different! Who in their right mind would gasp and be offended by the occasional stench that only restrooms emanated? We were in college: we were all grownups here. Surely Black Pumps and Pink Flats could handle it. I relaxed and finally relieved myself of the load I had come so purposefully to dump. A smile spread across my lips. I had done it. I had shitted in the presence of the two girls without an ounce of remorse. I could feel my third eye opening. I unlatched the lock on the door and came out with my head held high. 

The girl who had been in the stall next to me stood back with her head down to her phone in order to avoid eye contact. Through her cascading blonde waves I could see her nose and mouth twisted up in utter disgust. I tried to conceal my smile. The newcomer studied her brightly colored flats and crossed her legs together, switching their positions every five seconds. At this point it took everything I had not to burst out laughing. Her green eyes were wide, shocked that I had actually pooped in the bathroom. I walked between them to wash my hands, taking my time to lather and clean every inch. The blonde cleared her throat. I glanced up towards the mirror and caught her brown eyes studying me. I couldn’t believe she was rushing me out of the bathroom! I had had to sit and wait out her complaints about Jen’s buck teeth and her subsequent lisp and how Maya had conspired to steal her boyfriend from her. After hearing her go on for a solid five minutes about her waist size who was she to ask me to hurry it up?  Pink Flats stayed silent and fidgeted impatiently. I decided it was time to go, as I was beginning to smell the aftermath of my act. I fled the scene with a proud grin upon my visage. A small step for me, yet a huge step for humanity! Upon this thought I felt as light as air. I hovered back to my chair and began to highlight the rest of my sentence when I realized my grave mistake. It hit me as hard as the stench had hit those girls: in my epiphany and self acceptance I had forgotten to flush the toilet.