Nov 012010
Authors: Jim Sojourner

The floor smells weird with my cheek pressed against it. There are warmish spots in different places on the cold linoleum where I keep moving my face, trying to find somewhere that smells better.

Sometime in the last hour the plates of food I crammed down my throat at Cinzettis have started to congeal in what feels like my upper intestine into a putrid soup of Italian food, microbrews and stomach bile. It feels bad.

I shouldn’t have eaten the calamari. Fried cephalopod revenge in my guts. Karmic law manifest in rotten, squidy tendrils.

“I regret it, my soft-bodied, ocean-going friends. I repent, forgive me.”

They don’t. I invoke Jesus. They don’t care. I writhe.

Somehow, though, in between stomach spasms caused by my internal death stew I can’t help but try to figure out when we last mopped the bathroom floor. I already know the answer, but I hope that if I think hard enough, maybe I’ll convince myself otherwise.

Nope. Not working. We haven’t mopped it since we moved in back in August. I crave the burning aroma of ammonia.

From my vantage point underneath the toilet bowel, I notice a wet, brackish stain behind the toilet. I notice the toenail clipping a few inches in front of my nose that wavers every time I breathe out. I wonder if it’s mine.

My stomach clenches again, and I moan like a primeval beast, lurching off the floor and pulling myself up to kneel before my porcelain god. For a few seconds I don’t think about the toenail or the stain while I dry heave. Nothing but spit. Arg.

With my arms crossed over the gaping mouth of my deity I can feel hairiness all over the rim of the bowel. Fleetingly I wish I’d done a better job cleaning up my hair after I shaved my head yesterday before I realize the hair makes the toilet bowel warmer. Comfort is a rare commodity tonight. I’m grateful for my laziness.

I nod out and find myself back on the floor.

The heater purrs behind my back and water gurgles giddily in the pipes above my head, mocking my anguished groans. I curse their malevolence and try to shake my fist in rage, but it’s trapped under my hip. In my head I visualize hammers, wrenches and smashed, twisted scraps of metal.

I start to grin in imagined triumph, but as my stomach pain returns, a grimace replaces my budding smile. The heater and pipes keep chattering. You win this time.

Time must be thin here on the bathroom floor. In the darkness of my lair, time doesn’t pass. I’m stuck in time. I’ve been curled up in a ball for a decade. I’ve been curled up in a ball for a second. I’ve been curled up in a ball for too long.
The M*A*S*H theme plays in my head.

“Suicide is painless, it brings on many changes …” I hum. I stop when I reach “The sword of time will pierce our skin” line. I remember the sword of time has no relevance in stuck-time. My hammer of timelines is in the next room. I think about braining myself into coma sleep. Then I realize I’d probably throw up on my bed on the way there.

Not worth it.

Non-time continues to pass until I finally feel something thick and acidic moving up my esophagus. I retch and drag myself off the damp, unwashed rug that’s become my comfort blanket in the lonely darkness.

I’m a blob of molasses with a liquid vomit missile blasting up the silo of my chest, leaving a trail of acid-burned throat lining in its wake. Destiny speeds toward me in the dark and panic grips my soul.

I lurch forward on my knees, reaching the toilet just as orange sludge bursts from my mouth. Mouthful after mouthful of tomato-tinged mire spills over my lips and into the water below. Tears blur my vision but not enough to miss the hunks of half-chewed squid happily spinning in the mixture below.

Be free, I tell them, and collapse.

The floor smells weird with my cheek pressed against it. I don’t care anymore.

Managing Editor Jim Sojourner is a senior journalism major. His column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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