Saturday, November 25, 2017

11/3/17 Friday Challenge: Entry #6

Fiction: “Sofia’s Weekend,” by Lucrezia Ferri

Several months ago, my health insurance carrier offered me a deal too good to pass up. PremCare offered me a $600 per month reduction in my already ridiculously high premium if I would allow them to install the new Total Toilet™, a state-of-the-art “smart” device designed to make management of chronic health conditions easier for the patient and caregiver. Once installed, the Total Toilet would analyze everything I put into it and stream the results directly to my doctor at the clinic.

Six hundred bucks a month was money I sure could use, so I agreed. PremCare arranged everything, from the Total Toilet delivery, to installation, to Wi-Fi hook up. What PremCare did not disclose was the constant shaming and nagging that came along with the TT.

What a crock.

Over the next three months, I grew to hate the Total Toilet and all the, pardon the expression, crap it gave me. It wasn’t a convenience, it was a nightmare, but one that started as soon as I woke up and shuffled into the bathroom.

“Good morning, Sofia,” chimed the Total Toilet as soon as I sat on it. “You have gained five pounds this month. Perhaps you should consider a diet.”  A little while later, it added, “Sofia, you have been advised repeatedly not to eat corn. Your body does not digest it completely.” 

Oh, no, my toilet was not going to fat-shame me today, or ever again. “Sofia you will be receiving another telephone call from your clinic today. This will be the eighth call since installation three months ago. This is not acceptable.”

I finished up in the bathroom and wandered into the kitchen. The coffee maker still wasn’t finished, so I pulled up the news feed. I had to wade through the adverts first; they scrolled by so fast.  An advert for hole-digging. Still fuzzy-headed from the lack of caffeine: hole digging?  The coffee maker finally said it was done, so I poured a cup of coffee and looked out the kitchen window, into the neighbor’s yard.  Several of my neighbors had installed new storage sheds. Strange.

I then noticed the incessant chirping of my mobile phone.  Grimacing, I looked at the caller ID.  With extreme trepidation, I answered. “Hello Phyllis, what now?’ She responded that Dr. Kiv had flagged that the level of the pain medication Damital in my system was higher than usual, and there were some trace amounts of alcohol. Phyllis also stated that there were some irregularities in the levels of my statin Cholestoff and my mood elevator Britemor, and reminded me that I was eligible for a dosing ‘bot through my insurance.

Yeah, right. One more piece of policing in my life.

I returned to my coffee and news feed, and the advert for hole-digging scrolled by again. I was able to click on it this time. I called about what was necessary to get a hole dug. I was told it could be done quickly, as several of my neighbors had had this done and the block was already surveyed for utility lines. In fact, they had had a cancellation and could get to it this morning. I made all the necessary arrangements.  It seems my life was looking up.

I hopped in the shower, only to hear the Total Toilet. “Sofia, you should not urinate in the shower!”  How did it know? Now I was really determined.  Finished with the shower, I dried off, combed my hair, and brushed my teeth: all the while listening to the TT remind me that I had not had a complete morning bowel movement.

I quickly got dressed, grabbed my keys, and went off to Ikea for a little retail therapy.  I knew exactly which kit I was looking for. I did the store maze just to blow off some fat-shaming anger.  Yes, there they were, and three models to choose from. After carefully inspecting all three, I decided on the camo version. I pulled the stock ticket and meandered over to the area where the kits were located, and found two beefy guys to help load the box onto my cart. One of them commented that these kits were going fast, and suggested that if I did not have a drill, to stop and get one. 

Next stop: the big-box hardware store for an electric drill and an outdoor extension cord. I did not want a drill that I needed to charge. I was a woman on a mission. I was going to take care of this TODAY.

When I finally got home, I drove my SUV onto the grass and into the back yard. Yeah, yeah, not good for the grass. I opened the hatch and started opening the kit.  Ran the extension cord to the back door outlet, spread a tarp. I began assembly.  My neighbor Fred wandered over with his usual Old Style beer in hand and asked if I needed help. I am no fool; I gladly accepted his help. We had it assembled, erected, and anchored to the ground in less than three hours. Fred also installed an extra ventilation pipe below the seat. I thanked Fred and told him I owed him a case of Old Style. We sat and drank several beers.

I test-drove my project before going into the house. The first thing I heard was, “Sofia, you are off schedule!”  I ignored it, washed my hands, brushed my teeth, and crawled into bed, exhausted and pleased.

Since it was the weekend, I slept-in an extra hour the next morning. It was the damned Total Toilet that woke me up. “Sofia, you are due for evacuation.”  Yes, I am, thanks for the reminder.  I donned my robe and slippers and went outside, to blissfully use my new analog outhouse.  Once done, I went inside to wash my hands at the kitchen sink. The Total Toilet kept getting louder and louder, plaintively wanting me to use it.  I only went into the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth. I ignored my porcelain monster.

Later that day, I was in my back yard when the police and ambulance showed up.  Of course, this drew out the neighbors, including Fred. Fred was the one who suggested that the police check the back yard. I was quite surprised to see the police and the EMTs. They asked my name: yes that’s me. The nice officer explained that the Total Toilet had called in a welfare check because I had not interacted with it all day.

After the excitement was over, one of the policemen pulled me aside and slipped me a card with the name and phone number of a plumber who still had analog toilets for sale. After all, outhouses in below freezing temperatures are no fun.



Lucrezia Ferri lives with her dogs in the frozen tundra of the Upper Midwest. She used to think she was destined to be a crazy old cat lady, but the dogs set her straight. She took up writing later in life and while she has sold non-fiction, this is the first short story she’s felt brave enough to let other people read.


Editor’s Note: This story was written in response to the 11/3/17 Friday Challenge. We received so many good stories in response to this challenge that we’re running new stories daily all this week. We encourage you to comment on the stories and to vote for your favorite as soon as the polling widget goes live, as the author of the winning story will receive a $25 Amazon gift certificate. Thanks for participating!

Another Note: We’ve learned that the polling widget is not accessible in some web browsers, particularly those found on smart phones. If you can’t see the polling widget in the upper right corner, here’s a direct link to it: