Trust No Fart
The night air was thick and warm as the streets of Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City pulsated with energy. I slipped into a local supermarket to grab some last-minute snacks, something that had become a ritual when prepping for an overnight bus ride. The supermarket aisles were just as relentless as the motorbike filled streets. All I wanted to do was run in, get what supplies I needed and get out.
Tall shelves cascaded over me as I tried to make out the aisle signs. Busy lives pushed past with baskets and trolleys, oblivious to my presence. I stood there in a daze. The hairs on my arms rose as a cool sensation swept through my body and turned into a burning fire.
As I held onto my lower gut, another wave came crashing, then disappeared as quickly as it had arrived. I tried to disregard the sensation that crept over me, sending further uncertainty through my body. My stomach began to feel as if it was performing an acrobatic routine with gasping twists, turns and gut-wrenching tumbles. My breathing became heavier and I started reciting the items on my shopping list over and over in my head – trying to drown out the gurgling coming from my stomach with the sound of my own voice.
Water, Oreos, crackers, GURGLE!
Water, Oreos, GURGLE, crackers!
GURGLE, water, Oreos, crackers!
I spotted the snack aisle and beelined towards it, pushing past anybody that stood in my way. As the gurgles began to overtake the sound of my chanting, a feeling of urgency came upon me, so I scanned the shelf, sifting through seaweed and mi goreng-flavoured chips. Losing sight of my mission as the “exotic” flavours of the snack aisle took my attention, I felt another wave, except this time it was more like a tsunami.
Just like that, there it was: warm but subtle as it slipped right through me, taking advantage of my distracted mind. As it broke the air, I snapped out of my trance, trying to clench my butt cheeks together, but it was too late. The deed was already done.
I shat myself. In public. Wearing nothing but a skimpy g-string in an A-cut style mini dress.
There was nothing to conceal what I had bestowed upon the local supermarket shoppers, who just innocent bystanders to my atrocity. Droplets of sweat formed on my forehead and cascaded down my face to meet with my tears of self-pity. I couldn’t believe my own body had defied me as I stood there, holding in every last bit of what was left of my lunch.
I wanted to throw myself onto the floor, cover my eyes and pretend this wasn’t real life. However, considering I was standing in a pool of my own filth, lying there wasn’t really a viable option. Although I knew I had to move fast, tiny waddle-like steps was all I could manage to pull together for my walk of shame to the bathroom, which was conveniently located on the upper level on the other side of the store.
A trail of what I can only assume was once a bánh xèo left traces of evidence behind me in small pancake-shaped droplets as I scurried from the scene of the crime. I couldn’t help but make eye contact with the many civilians on my way through. Peering into my soul, their judgemental eyes burned more than the fever that ran through me.
As I reached the stairs and pulled my shaking body up along the railing, a tiny little hand reached out towards my dress, tugging at the corner. It belonged to a local boy whose innocent face looked down at the mess on my legs, concerned I didn’t know what was going on. With a gasp, his mother yanked him away from me in disgust, muttering something I can only imagine translated to, “You are a disgusting, horrible woman.” Making it to the top, I swayed, increasingly becoming disorientated as another gurgle followed by a stomach rumble left my body.
I sat on the toilet letting go of everything I had left in me as my head fell into my cupped hands. I tossed my soiled underwear onto the floor, discarding it like I did my dignity. I could hear women wheeze as they were engulfed by the smell that mixed with the warm air of the toilet: an ambiance I had solely created. Wiping away any last traces of evidence, I splashed my face with cold water in the sink before springing out and down the flight of stairs, my eyes glued to the floor.
I avoided the snack aisle as an employee swiped a mop across the floor, wondering what he had done to deserve such a fate.
Cover by Ryo Yoshitake