Miriam Almost Dies Trying to Take a Shit

If I ever get a hernia, it will be from trying to take a shit, Miriam thinks. This isn’t something she would ever say out loud. Not Miriam. Well, maybe to her therapists. She can say just about anything to her therapists. Not to anyone else. Miriam doesn’t have friends—not the kind with whom one can share bathroom details. No matter. Miriam isn’t bothered by this. She doesn’t have a need for friends.

Right now, though, Miriam wishes she had someone to commiserate with her bowel habits. Or lack thereof. To her, shitting is an Olympic sport requiring hours of prior hydration and preparation, a Herculean effort, and the best she ever does, despite her (literal) efforts, is take bronze—if she even places at all. 

If she’s lucky, she finds herself on the toilet at some point during the day, alternating between deep breaths and pushing, deep breaths and relaxing. Rocking back and forth, rocking side to side. She can’t look at her phone. She can’t listen to music. She must concentrate. Not unlike trying to have an orgasm, but much less fun. 

Sometimes, she becomes so flustered and frustrated, she strips and throws all her clothes on the ground. Well, not in the bathroom with the littler box. Then, she just makes do with rocking. No matter. She can handle it. 

“When you’re trying to go, are your knees higher than your chest?” Kathy, her pelvic floor physical therapist, is great with this shit. She always has ideas. Innovative ways to coax things out. 

“What do you think about using the dilator rectally a few times a week?”

Miriam lies on her stomach, bottle of lube to her left, hot pink silicone dilator in hand. She puts lube on the dilator and slides it in, but she finds it’s hard to hold it there, and it doesn’t go in very far. Her arms start getting sore. She imagines it’d be easier with someone to help, but also how do you ask someone to hold the hot pink thing you need to stick up your ass?

She wonders how many times, and for how long, she’d need to do this before it actually helped her take a shit without almost dying. 

She twitches, and the dilator pops out like a projectile and lands on the floor, pointing straight up, lube sliding down the side.


Adrienne Marie Barrios has work forthcoming in superfroot mag, Autofocus Lit, Sledgehammer Lit, trampset, Rejection Letters, and Identity Theory. She is editor-in-chief of Reservoir Road Literary Review and edits short stories and award-winning novels. Find her online at adriennemariebarrios.com.

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