The toilet is outside. Not far from the house, but nonetheless. The door is always open. It’s a standard toilet in that you sit on a white ceramic bowl, and it’s flushed with water dripped into the cistern from one of the rainwater tanks. The sewerage is transported to a large septic tank deep down under the forest floor, in a hole dug by the previous owner, who built this place.

Other than that, it’s not a regular toilet. Sitting on it with the door open, I look out over part of my outdoor workspace. It’s stacked with discarded and broken pottery, china, and tiles, waiting to be repurposed into mosaic art. It’s coated with a fine, green growth, a sticky kind of mossy algae blown in from the trees by the wind. There are also many, many spider webs. A small trough containing edible plants and the forest trees behind it are next in view. Today everything is wildly swerving; Cyclone Dovi is visiting this small strip of land called New Zealand. The even smaller strip of land where I live, at the far, far north tip of the country’s North Island, is beaten up badly.

It is lovely to sit on this toilet and look out at so much greenery.

Most times, I like going to this toilet outside. It is spacious with a tiled floor, a gasfired califont shower, and a basin. The walls are made of corrugated iron, white painted cement board, and “four by twos”. To my right is an opening just above the floor between the wall and the tiles. I see a soft, brown built-up bed of fallen leaves and thick black soil created by rot and worms, ants, and fungi. The gap is there to drain the used water from the sink and shower.

At night, I’m sometimes a little freaked out to go out there. I force myself not to think I could bump into something, someone, some creature in the dark. A weta, a salamander, a frog, rat, or possum.

Actual view from the outdoor toilet described in this story. Image by Author.

There is an outside light, but the solar-powered LED bulb popped a long time ago, and because the lamp is hanging about three meters high overhead, I haven’t replaced it yet. It’s tricky to climb up so high, and I have so many other things to do first that I make do with how it is. There is no one around who can do it for me. As I write this, I resolve (once again) to fix this light up soon.

Sometimes I bring my phone and use its torch (the mobile signal cannot be picked up from here, which is just as well), sometimes a candle. Often I can’t be bothered, and just hope for the best. Occasionally, when awoken by an emotionally draining nightmare, I don’t want to go out there at all, and I pee in an emergency bucket. That way, I don’t have to go outside in the dark.

Once upon a time when I came out to use the loo, a juvenile possum (more accurately, a Phalangeriformes) was sitting on the tiles beside the toilet boil. It got a fright when it saw me, it probably had never seen a human before. It froze as only possums can, and I gently nudged it out, saying Shhh, shhh, I’m not going to hurt you little possum out you go. It lept back into its natural habitat, leaving me to respond to the call of my bodily nature in peace.


[Image inside the story is of my actual toilet. The main story image is not of the toilet described, but courtesy of Marcus Ganahl on Unsplash]

© Sitara Morgenster

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