Bonesetters

by David Byron Queen

Grab the Sharpest Blade

by Chelsea Voulgares

A Trickling, a Loosening

by Elisabeth Ingram Wallace

Girl Garden

by Michael Seidel

Ladies and Magentamen

by Allison Kubu

My Coworker Aldona

by Michelle Ross & Kim Magowan

Marrakech

by Santino Prinzi

for daws to peck

by Timston Johnston

Last Known Movements

by David Alexander

Anything Else

by Claire Hopple

Bananas on the Roof

by Noa Sivan

Like Fireflies Over Lake Erie

by Jennifer Harvey

Chicken Woman

by Melissa Wiley

oats & nuts

by Raina K. Puels

Corners

by Christine No

Architecture

by Doug Paul Case

A Hot Summer

by Charmaine Wilkerson

What is an unexpected / disheartening / scatological experience you've had?

Meg Tuite

So There Was that One Time

I pooped in the gondola at Keystone, CO. I pooped on that one guy’s porch, those several times, actually. And then when I put my poop in a brown paper bag and lit it on fire on a stranger’s doorstep. That happened several times too, never works how you want it to. Or when I pooped on her driveway and then used sticks to pick up the poo and put it in her mailbox. Or when I threw my poop into the girl’s bathroom at one of my Jesus camps. The youth pastor guilted the culprit into admitting his crime. I confessed, and almost got sent home. Or that camping poop that came out perfect soft serve, like coffee-flavored frozen yogurt. I sharted on the day of his funeral. Still haven’t pooped while floating in the ocean swimming with dolphins or in zero gravity, but yeah, I guess you could say I’ve had a good run.

Levi Andrew Noe

The Carpool Situation

On our last gig, he confided, “I officially give no shits.”

But in his car, a stink hits my nostrils, as if a dog left fresh turd, or a rancid cigar lingered. Still, I’m grateful to carpool.

He revs the ignition. Icy air conditioning masks the stink. “Too cold?” he asks, odor worsening as he talks.

“Heard you’re getting dental work in Peru,” I mention casually.

“Actually, my search for dental implants led to my latest endeavor, teaching massage to natives. Americans fear massage overseas. But if Betty from Ohio sees ‘Certified American-Trained,’ she’ll feel safer getting massaged after hiking Machu Picchu.”

“Makes sense,” I say, examining our gig sheet. “Wasn’t Gina originally hired for handwriting analysis tonight, instead of me reading tarot?”

“Yeah.” Jim drives in silence a while. “Gina doesn’t like me,” he sighs.

“Nonsense,” I reassure.

“Well, parties often hire a male and female psychic, like you and me, tonight.” I nod in agreement.

“So Gina’s friend, Rebecca, and I marketed ourselves as a team. Some ginseng affected me. While picking Becky up for a trade show, I used her bathroom and literally exploded everywhere. Now Gina won’t even say ‘hi.’”

Later, I google “ginseng, diarrhea?”

Katharyn Grant

Interior Decorating

It was his cousin’s in-law’s party. Everyone except us was either an investment banker or a stockbroker, apart from Uncle Felix, who sported extravagant nostril hair and called himself a member of the diplomatic service in the sort of voice that suggested you were meant to infer that he was a spy, but who was really a secretary. My husband was a plasterer and the black sheep of the family and I was a decade younger than everybody else and staying at home to look after the baby and nobody knew what to say to us, so they mostly didn’t, which was ok by me.

We marveled obediently at the new, £120-per-square-metre, pure-silk flocked wallpaper until my perfect, beautiful baby needed changing. He celebrated the sensation of cool breeze around his nappy area with a perfect, beautiful parabola of liquid yellow baby faeces that arched high into the air to paint a vivid, sunny line down the silvery wallpaper, itself the product of a million silkworms’ arses, tailing off into a pointillist abstract across the white carpet. There was a strong aroma of egg.

My husband high-fived the baby when we got into the car. We were not invited back.

Helen Rye

Six in One Hundred

“Are you praying?” he says, wheeling me through the ward.

I look down and release my linked fingers.

“No,” I reply.

* * *

“You may experience mild discomfort as I inflate your bowel, but this is completely normal.”

The thin black tube uncoils and swings its bulbous head toward me.

“Other than that,” he says, “you should not feel any pain.”

I watch the screen as the lighted camera winds through a red-pink tunnel and sinks its fangs into my bowel.

* * *

“I’ve had enough! Get out of me!”

“Just relax. Keep your knees up.”

“Get. The. Fuck. Out!”

* * *

“Slight progression of inflammation, but the biopsies are clear.”

He consults his notes, glances at the raw acne bifurcating across my face.

“I am required to inform you that there is a marginally increased risk of skin cancer from long-term exposure to the medication, but stopping or reducing your prescribed dosage may aggravate your condition. The choice is entirely yours.”

“I’ll ask my wife,” I say.

* * *

I pop the foil and tip two round, pale yellow tablets into my flat palm. They lay between my life and fate lines, which flick outward from my wrist like a forked tongue.

Christopher M. Drew

Shit or Get off the Pot

We called our toilet “The John” and we had two toilets; one in the hall near the Comus Den and the other in the back yard shed. Uncle Ike used the shed john or we’d have to if he ensconced on the inside throne. For my uncle, shitting was an elaborate affair requiring books, magazines, and a couple of hours of quiet.

Diaper rash afflicted me as a baby. Dr. Neff, the pediatrician, recommended going diaperless so I pissed and shit everywhere, even in my playpen. Mamoo reported I once sampled my own little chocolate balls. Constipation beset us all and great attention focused on evacuations. Suppositories were our life.

Mamoo’s toileting routine began with a morning coffee and an after-breakfast cigarette, which sent her sphincter straight to the john.

She oversaw my daily evacuations. “Darling, did you have a bowel movement today?” she’d ask.

I answered dutifully until age twelve when my period arrived and revolt set in. “Did you have a bowel movement, Mamoo?”

“Oh, yes, I did, darling. I had a perfectly beautiful action.”

Lucinda Kempe

A near life experience

I was seven at the time and my mother had taken me to the lake for an afternoon swim. We were there for about half an hour before mum said, “shall we go?” I agreed. But when I began gathering my things, I realised: I’d lost my Power Rangers ring—the most cherished of all my childhood toys. I still remember the feeling in my stomach—like I’d lost a part of myself and the hole it left ached with sorrow. I had never lost anything so precious, and after an unacceptably brief look, she said, “there’s nothing we can do.” I didn’t respond, struggling to hold back the tears. But on the walk home I began to think (perhaps for the first time in my life) and I realised, like a sober awakening, that things don’t always magically work out. Sometimes, unspeakable things happen. That’s life. Deal with it. But as we passed our neighbour’s house we stopped in and Fred pulled the ring from behind my left ear. I was speechless but I greedily snatched it from his fingers—no questions asked. Happiness tends not to require answers. And I enjoyed the ring for many years more.

Jamie van Netten

The Cruel Offering

Phil found it first.

He summoned me to the living room without telling me why and from his expression I could tell that there was reason for distress. My eyes went first to the overturned table that had been brought out for beer pong at last night’s party, and then to the chair that was oddly positioned in the middle of the room. From there they found the brown smudge on the side of chair, and then moved to the floor, where a trail of smears finally came to rest in a menacing lump so dark brown it almost looked black.

We didn’t have a dog. The doors were all locked, except for the boiler room. Our remaining four roommates all feigned equal horror as they were summoned to investigate, but I knew one of them must be guilty. Each seemed as sure as the next that they were not the culprit.

We never solved the mystery definitively and so I have had to lead my life since then wondering if my memories are not really as they seem, and despite my resilient certainty it was I who shit on the living room floor.

Emma Sklar

The Annapurna Trail

I fall instantly, completely awake, claw my way out of a nest of blankets woven by local Gurung tribes, my only thought, “Out. Get out.” I fumble for the door handle, the blackness so absolute I can’t see my hand in front of my face and panic, thinking I’ve lost sight with altitude. I click on my torch with a desperate, shaking, sweating hand. And then – I run. A half-run, lest the motion hasten something awful, dislodge something evil, something inevitable. I follow the wavering yellow beam like a searchlight. I almost make it. Almost. Behind a blue door that doesn’t shut properly is a room with an icy long drop. Intoxicating, blessed relief. Heaven. Sweet delight. But then—oh, fuck. The roll of toilet paper, still on the shelf in my room—sweet Jesus—the torchlight fizzing and dying out—no, no, not now, why didn’t I change the fucking batteries—the blackness. The hopelessness. I’m blind. I can feel the cold, wet dampness of my trousers. Realisation comes in waves. I am thousands of miles from home, halfway up one of the world’s most remote mountain ranges, in true darkness, covered in shit. I want to go home.

Victoria Richards

Lovely Ireland

I gotta gotta gotta go go go go. Now. The bus, between Galway and Dublin, has no bathroom, and IS NOT GOING TO STOP, according to the driver. And if I don’t drop a deuce NOW, everyone on these wheels is going to be talking about this for years. Isn’t there a passage in the Old Testament like this? Fucking should be. So, is there a God? We get stuck because of roadwork (it’s the same guy, doesn’t matter what country–same guy holding the stop/go sign–same cigarette, same boredom-to-coma look on his face). We’ve stopped right next to a pub. The driver says I can’t leave the bus. The look I give him promises violence after. I hit the pub—barkeeper says I gotta buy something—I tell him to smoke a bone and hit the commode–my whole life, everything I am, was, will be, squeezed down to this: I pinch the loaf. It was ordained; it had to be. My world refills with everything besides shitting. I run back through the pub—barkeep says something coarse and colorful–I hit the street. My bus is gone. God’s busy, possibly in the bathroom.

Oliver Knudsen