Turd by Ilan Herman

Maybe it was the spinach salad mixing with her four daily apples, or maybe the Grande whole milk cappuccino in tandem with large portions of raisins and strawberries, but Julia’s morning bowel movement, most always generous and smooth, was more generous, and smoother, than usual. It lasted only four or five seconds but she felt considerably lighter after completion.

As she always did, she glanced to evaluate the result. Health magazines insisted that much could be concluded about one’s health from one’s excrement. The main objective, the health experts said, was that the specimen be long and thick and easily find its way out of the body. They also advocated that a healthy crap didn’t smell bad, really shouldn’t smell at all, and that if it did, that was a sign of the body ridding itself of toxins.

Julia gasped in disbelief: the bowel movement consisted of one turd, about a foot long, maybe longer, and more than an inch in diameter. No aroma wafted from the toilet. The turd, like a dormant snake, curled at the bottom of the bowl, but part of it floated on the surface. This, according to the experts, was a good sign. A floating turd meant that her body was properly hydrated, that she was drinking enough fluids. The experts also commented that the ideal bowel movement should be light-brown, as that hinted at the body’s proper balance of minerals.

Julia noticed with pride that the turd was indeed light-brown, and then chuckled with satisfaction. All indicators confirmed that she’d laid the perfect turd, or if perfection, elusive as it is, was unattainable, the results still pointed to an extraordinary achievement. Julia strongly believed that one’s gateway to a balanced emotional and spiritual life lay in a good night’s sleep followed by an effortless and abundant morning expulsion of bodily garbage. Deny a person either of the two, she claimed, and see the joy trickle away from their eyes. A tired or constipated human being is prone to moodiness, lethargy, anxiety, maybe even clinical depression. She confessed to herself that the turd's great length and thickness probably had to do with her own physical attributes. Julia was five foot eight, and weighed one hundred seventy-five pounds. Far from fat, by American standards, she was nonetheless considered big-boned, with healthy thighs and a large bottom. She ate well, of course, and exercised thrice a week; but the extra thirty pounds refused to shed. Her good friend, Amanda, said that Julia gave too much credence to her physical imperfections, that she needed to learn to accept herself and take care to be beautiful on the inside. Julia believed Amanda was sincere in trying to help, but she also knew that it was easy for Amanda,—petite and slender,—to be somewhat superficial about Julia’s weight struggles.

Feeling proud in sophomoric ways, Julia wiped, and then bade farewell to the turd and flushed the toilet. The water whirled and drained, but the turd did not follow. It writhed for a second and then settled at the bottom of the bowl. She waited for the toilet reservoir to fill up, and then flushed again, but the turd had a mind of its own and ignored the sucking sewer.

The toilet reservoir chugged to fill up again and Julia wondered how to deal with the turd when the phone rang. She rushed to answer the call.

“How’s my queen today?” said the caller.

“Hi Bobby, I’m fine. I was hoping you were the bank calling back about the loan.”

Bobby, flamboyant and very gay, was her most trusted confidante. They’d known each other ten years and, many times, had found solace and camaraderie in sharing with one another the pitfalls of life and romance.

“Jerry left me, again,” Bobby said. “He thinks he’s so macho but he’s not.”

“I’m sorry,” Julia said. “He’ll come back. He always does.”

“Well I’m done with him,” Bobby whined. “I’m not taking him back.”

Julia imagined him sitting on his maroon living room couch, thin and pale arms crossed in helpless anger.

“That’s what you always say,” she said with love, “but you don’t really mean it.”

“This time I do,” Bobby huffed. “He’s such a turd.”

Julia giggled.

“What was that?” he asked.


“That was a coy giggle. I know one when I hear one.”

Momentary silence ensued while Julia considered her response. They’d had plenty of late night conversations laced with locker room humor and descriptive references to bodily fluids. Most of the references came from Bobby, who had a very busy sexlife, but she’d been a willing listener and had contributed a few morsels of her own.

“I’m waiting,” Bobby said in his lilting nag. “You know I’ll badger you until you divulge, so you better spare both of us the drama.”

So Julia told him about her glorious and odorless turd, how long and round it was, how light in weight and color, and how it refused to flush.

Bobby snickered like a little boy; Julia laughed, delighted in her ornery ways. “I probably broke the Guinness world record. Do you think they have one for the longest turd?”

“Probably not,” Bobby said, “but they should. Can you excavate it? You could put it in the freezer so it hardens.”

“But it’ll thaw when I take it out and probably crumble.”

“I guess you’re right,” Bobby said. “So what are you gonna do with it?”

“I don’t know, flush it I suppose.”

“I guess,” he said…and silence lingered. Then he said, “If you chop it up it’ll flush for sure.”

“That’s gross,” Julia said. “Besides, what would I chop it with?”

Holding the receiver up to her ear, Julia was now in the bathroom. The turd had taken on water and had grown plumper and lay curled up like a satisfied python digesting a mouse. “I’m gonna try flushing one more time.”

“You go girl,” Bobby cheered on.

She pushed down on the handle. The whirlpool rushed around the slippery bowl and gained speed. The turd unraveled and, like the aforementioned python, gracefully slid into the dark tunnel and disappeared into its nest.

“It’s gone,” Julia whispered, like she stood graveside and eulogized a friend.

“Don’t be sad,” Bobby said. “I promise there’ll be many more.”

Ilan Herman is the author of The Gravedigger (Casperian Books), Chan Kim (Savant Books & Publications) and Lord of the Cats (self-published), all of which can be purchased on his Amazon.com page.