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News & Features » April 2018 » “The Piss of My Dreams” by Vashti Anderson

“The Piss of My Dreams” by Vashti Anderson

Are you a parent going through the Terrible Twos? Did you live through them and survive? Terrible Twosdays is a place to commiserate over the unending shenanigans of your Darling Children (as the online parenting communities say). Nonfiction stories will be considered, so long as names have been changed to protect the guilty. Inspired by our best-selling gift book for parents, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Terrible Twosdays joins the roster of our other online short fiction series. Unlike Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, we’re looking for stories with a light and mischievous feel, all about the day-to-day challenges of parenting. As with our other flash fiction series, stories must not exceed 750 words.

This week, no space is sacred for the mother of a toddler.

The Piss of My Dreams
by Vashti Anderson

I have a serious bathroom phobia, and when I say this I mean that there is actually nothing wrong with me at all. I mean, I have nightmares about using public bathrooms where, for example, there are no doors on the stalls, where the doors are not high enough to block someone of average height from casually looking in, where there are no stalls at all and just toilets facing each other. But whose subconscious doesn’t visit these scenarios? Sometimes in these nightmares I’m using the toilet and there are all-out spectators, or the toilet is missing a seat, clogged, overflowing, or it has no toilet paper. I’m sure there’s some dumb psychology name for this. But, it horrifies and astounds me that in the movies, when someone is hungover, or drunk, or sick, they invariably hug and rest some part of their face, if not their actual mouth, on the public toilets that from all real-world experience I know must be exceedingly filthy. They might as well be licking them.          

So when I’m at home, sitting on my own toilet, which I clean myself—so I know exactly how clean it is at any given moment—I can close the well-fitted bathroom door and experience a momentary break from the phobias of my dreams. In my stupid psychological analysis, I think these nightmares are really about not being able to relax. But I don’t know. I haven’t actually relaxed in the past two years, not even in my own bathroom . . .

The gentle sound of pissing. The soft hum of ventilation. A sigh. A deep breath. A slow exhale, then a violent, sharp interruption—thud! A no less assertive second THUD. Silence. The creak of the doorknob turning. The turns get faster and faster. My eyes make tiny movements tracking the turns back and forth, back and forth. Terror. Silence again. I almost sigh. A louder THUD. The distinct wail of a cat in heat, or maybe a chupacabra. But I don’t have a cat, and everyone knows chupacabras don’t exist. I get the chills. The doorknob turns more frantically, now screeching on each turn. Dear God, the door opens a crack. A giant eye meets mine, like the eye of the colossal squid as it was first seen in the deep. Before the door can be forced open further, I block it with the side of my foot, throwing off my pee stream. A little hand reaches around the edge of the door, and a tiny body with the brute strength of an ox forces it open a little more, mashing my firmly planted foot. Now two gigantic squid eyes look at me, as if seeing the world for the first time. A smile with well-spaced toddler teeth. Okay, so I give in to my nightmares. He’s standing in the bathroom with me, still trying to piss, his eyes scanning without restriction. He points at my crotch. I reach for the toilet paper. He blocks me, with the will and the force of a mule, and unrolls the toilet paper onto the floor as fast as he possibly can. I am barely able to pull up my pants, and he has already grabbed the razors, scissors, hand mirrors, and anything else that can shatter or potentially maim. I try to temper my panic, because when I panic, he laughs, flails his arms and runs away at the speed of light, still clutching whatever danger is in his hands. I take a short, quasi-deep breath and resign myself to a general state of anxiety and unease. And I thank God every day that this, and not the bathrooms in my dreams, is my nightmare.


VASHTI ANDERSON is a Trinidadian-American filmmaker who has won grants, recognition, and awards for her writing and directing. Moko Jumbie, her narrative feature film, premiered at the LA Film Festival where Indiewire named it one of its “10 Festival Picks” and New Machine named Vashti one of “6 World Fiction Filmmakers to Watch.” It has continued its festival run, winning Best Screenplay at the Mosaicc International South Asian Film Festival. The film’s European premiere will be announced in May 2018. Vashti has written about filmmaking for Moviemaker, Miramax and A&U and teaches directing in the Graduate Film Program at NYU.


Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Terrible Twosdays flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should focus on the challenges of parenting. Ideally, stories should be about children aged 0 to 5, but any age (up to early teens) is acceptable. Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.
—Include the child’s age at the time of the story next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Apr 27, 2018

Category: Original Fiction, Terrible Twosdays | Tags: , , , , , , ,