Photo by Sergio Souza (Pexels)

Anyone Who Has or Has Had Diarrhea in the Past Two Weeks Shall Not Use the Pool

Sarp Sozdinler

Because life is hard and full of surprises.

Because pipes are easily clogged and cost more than what they are worth.

Because even the water can be stained, the guts irreversibly scarred. The mind unapologetically damaged.

Because diarrhea won’t cleanse your body; it will stain your soul. Along with our pool.

Because the opposite of diarrhea isn’t necessarily constipation as one might assume, as much as the opposite of hating on yourself isn’t necessarily loving yourself but tolerating your own guts, figuratively or otherwise.

Because diarrhea is an exorcism of the self, and a pool is no place for exorcism. Nor the self.

Because your intestines are long and temper is short and the world is probably fed up with both.

Because you are probably as weak as you appear.

Because the microplastics in your guts glitter with excitement to meet their maker. Because they show.

Because diarrhea is the kind of intimacy that can’t be shared with others. Because we, thank God, are the third wheel.

Because a pool often goes overcrowded, its hygiene under-appreciated. Its funding overlooked.

Because it’s not your fault you’re suffering from this, we get it, because even the studies show that every four out of five people are stricken with this illness, like all the time, like it’s one of the more common domestic medical conditions across the nation, after colds and heartbreak.

Because your guts are your most intimate organ, which can suffer with or without love. Or affection. Or discarded chicken wings. Or your mama’s sweet paprika. Or water. Just not our water, please and thank you.

Because it’s better to let some things run its course rather than treat it.

Because a lot of us grew up in dysfunctional families running on malfunctioning intestines. Because we know the struggle is real.

Because everyone will remember you as the dude whose self-worth outweighed his sense of judgment.

Because, let’s be real, no one will even notice your absence if you skipped a day or two.

Because no one will miss you.

Nor your guts, really.

Sarp Sozdinler is a writer of Turkish descent and has been published in Electric Literature, Kenyon Review, Masters Review, DIAGRAM, Normal School, American Literary Review, and Maudlin House, among other places. His stories have been selected or nominated for anthologies (Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions, Wigleaf Top 50) and awarded a finalist status at various literary contests, including the 2022 Los Angeles Review Flash Fiction Award. He's currently at work on his first novel in Philadelphia and Amsterdam.

X (formerly Twitter): @sarpsozdinler

Instagram: @sarpsozdinler