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Day Twenty - Susan Shiney

Susan Shiney is a Californian living a creative life in France. She has been published in A Story in 100 Words, Flash Fiction Magazine, Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, and The Serious Flash Fiction Anthology-Volume 6. She writes surrealist, magical realist, and low fantasy stories and is working on her debut novel. 

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Don’t Forget to Ask for Permission  by Susan Shiney

I always played games at night about turning on the lights. My apartment’s walls and door distances burned into my brain. It was about three o’clock when I shuffled to the bathroom that night.

I plopped down on the toilet seat and bent over to scratch my ankle. My arms erupted in goose pimples immediately. I had the sensation I wasn’t alone. Pain radiated on my right buttocks. Something had come up from inside the toilet to attack me. Like I had been kicked with a spiked boot.

I screamed and straddled off the seat with my sweat pants stuck around my calves. I scratched at the wall to find the light. The paint from the wall crumpled and collected under my fingernails. I flipped on the light and looked at my fingers that had grabbed my butt wound, there were droplets of blood on them. A snake with a diamond-shaped head slithered from the toilet bowl and curled its green and gold scaled body around the top of the seat. It reminded me of a bike tube. Its tongue flopped in and out of its mouth as it swished its head side to side arching the front of its body before me.

I was frozen in place, so cold, fluttering my lids to try and make sense of what I was seeing. Stiff. I stared at it as if staring would stop it from biting me again.

The snake’s yellow eyes locked on mine. "Don’t you ever do that again," it said.

"Wh..What?" I said feeling dizzy and swallowing the vomit at the back of my throat.

"You heard me. That was a warning shot, I didn’t release my venom this time," the snake said as it studied me.

"Warning shot?" I murmured and rubbed my sore spot.

"Precisely. This is my home. Usually I live in the water tank with the clean water, occasionally I need to get some exercise and move through the pipes. That is what I was doing when you so rudely came here and almost diddled on my head."

"I didn’t know. How did you get here?" I said as I leaned against the bathroom wall for support and slowly pulled my pants up.

"Your husband picked my home up off the side of the street where my last landlord dumped me. He decided having me in his dwelling was more that he could handle," it said while moving his head down low.

"He didn’t tell me..."

"Well, he did. Your husband didn’t see me because I was able to keep myself hidden, I am quite the acrobat, if I do say so myself," he said as he pulled his body into a tighter circle around the toilet seat.

I still wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or not at this point. Whatever this moment was, I wanted it to be over. "I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to..."

"What’s done is done. From now on if you or your husband need to use the restroom, ask me first," it said as it held intense eye contact with me.

"Ask you?" I said while trying to envision a life where we would just go on living with a snake in our toilet, a demanding one at that.

"Yes, something along the lines of : ‘Mr. Serpent, May I go now?’ Yes, I quite like the sound of that."

"I don’t know if that is… Can’t we just return you to wherever he found you?" I said while planning to scream at my husband for getting a used snake infested toilet from off the side of the road.

"Absolutely not, the last two moves were highly traumatic. I want to stay here and that is final. If you try to move this toilet, I will retaliate," it said as it arched its back to grow taller.

"Ok, ok. I understand. Let’s stop, Mr. Serpent, please," I said while backing up out of the bathroom.

"Where are you going? Don’t you need to relieve yourself?"

"I don’t have to go anymore."

It took us a month to get the courage to ask the snake permission to use the toilet. We went to the gym, our neighbors, or used the bathtub. Even though the snake always allowed us. We were constantly terrified he might attack.

One morning, I woke up to finding its skin that it molted and left on our bed pillow, just to remind us he could move anywhere silently. That we would watch us when we slept.

We moved, of course. It could have the apartment. My anxiety was through the roof. I don’t know what the next tenant did. I wanted to warn them, but who would believe me?

I can tell you this much, every toilet to this day, every one, I can’t help asking it for permission before use.

20th. HS2 0XA - St Moulag @ Lewis.jpeg

Today's church door... 

St Moluag, Lewis

St Moluag, or Teampull Mholuaidh as it known in Gaelic, is reached from the road by a long, narrow path between two neighbouring fields. It’s so long and straight, in fact, that it resembles the kind of vanishing point road you see in movies. Its exact construction date is unknown, but the current T-shaped building is believed to have replaced the original 560s structure, somewhere between 1100 and 1500. 

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