I had a lot to do over the summer: clamber over bales of hay, ride my horse, and hang out in one of the cherry trees. A dash to the two-holer in the back yard was simpler than running inside, up the stairs, and into the bathroom.
I left the door open to get some fresh air and have enough light to pour over the Sears catalogue. I imagined wearing all sorts of pretties, before I put a page to use.
One summer, I noticed that someone had used a red crayon to print the mysterious letters CIOATFTP on the wall across from the seats. I bounded into the kitchen and said, “Mom, somebody wrote letters on the privy wall. Do you know who did it? What does it mean?”
She chuckled and said, “I did. You and your sisters have the whole summer to figure it out.”
We screwed our heads around this cryptic message and came up with wishful thoughts such as “Candy is only a thing for two pennies.” or silly things like “Cooties in oranges are too feeble to pray.” Our little brother was closer than we knew when he asked if the letters “TP” were about toilet paper. Mom kept smiling and repeating, “Wait until school begins.”
The day finally arrived, and Mom gave us the code to the mysterious letters CIOATFTP: “Cut it off at the first thin place.”
I nearly puked. “Oh, Mother!” I paused before emphasizing my next words, as if I were a hammer hitting steel. “That’s not even funny. That’s disgusting.”
I abruptly ended my outhouse days for the season—perhaps forever.
Fay L. Loomis /she, hers/ grew up in rural Michigan, migrated to California, and now leads a quiet life in the woods in upstate New York. A member of the Stone Ridge Library Writers and the Rat's Ass Review Workshop, her poems and prose have appeared in numerous publications.