Holding It In

          Jim clutched a fistful of his stomach and wiggled the distended flesh. He lifted his left breast and let it fall back against his ribs. It folded and smeared the crescent ring of sweat in the crease. He slapped his gut and observed the undulations in the bedroom mirror, the echoes of disturbance fossilizing into cellulitic disgrace.
          His nipples used to point straight out.
          They now drooped down at oblique angles, differing in degree, and shifting with every movement of his body like two lazy eyes.  
          And his penis. What a tragedy.  
          Jim inspected his member. It was not the smallest thing in the world. And it was by no means the ugliest. After several moments of intense scrutiny, he accepted as truth that any penis hanging shorter than its testicles was simply a distasteful specimen. He gripped his foreskin and stretched his shaft down past his low-hanging fruit.  
          Now it was too thin.  
          Dismayed, he released his hold. His penis flapped up towards his navel before returning to its flaccid state.  
          And his skinny legs. No wonder I was never much of an athlete.  
          He glimpsed at his feet and quickly looked away.  
          “Hideous,” he whispered.  
          They got smaller every time he looked at them. Soon he’d be walking on nubs.
          He leaned forward, over the dresser, eyes inches from the mirror. A single bulb from the lamp beside him exposed his thinning hair. He ruffled his waning mane and for a moment, regained bounce and body, but the illusion proved brief as each strand settled to its previous state like the sediment of freshly-squeezed juice that required a stir between sips to retain its appeal. He shook his head in contempt and mused over the futility of form—its preordained prescription to fall and the mortality of his corporeal self.    
          “Are you coming?” asked Patty.
          She spoke loudly over streaming water. Steam seeped through the crack of the open door.  
          Jim broke free from his self-scrutinizing. He turned away from the mirror and his depressing image. The flowing water from the showerhead induced a need to urinate. He opened the bathroom door and lifted the toilet seat. The faux porcelain donut made a clinking sound as it tapped the tank.  
          “Are you using the toilet?” Patty asked, from behind the curtain.  
          “Taking a piss,” said Jim. “I won’t flush.”  
          “But then it will stink.”
          “So I’ll flush then,” he said.  
          “But then I’ll get burnt.”  
          Jim closed his eyes and dropped the lid. “I guess I’ll hold it.”
          Patty said nothing. Droplets rained down against the floor and the vinyl curtain.
          Jim slid open the curtain and stepped over the ledge into the shower. He recoiled beneath the scalding stream of water pouring forth from the showerhead.  
          “Jesus…” he said, stepping to the back of the tub. “How do you stand it?”
          “Turn it down,” Patty said. She tilted back her head into the water and combed her fingers through her hair. “Can you pass the shampoo?”
          Jim removed the plastic bottle from a small shelf in the rear corner. Patty popped open the lid with her thumb. She squirted a dollop into her hands and lathered the stuff through her hair. Jim watched and examined her body. It bore little sign of disintegration. Her breasts were still firm and symmetrical. Her skin, still tight, showed no visible sign of loosening or variation in hue—perfectly sheathing her components in a uniform bronze. Jim felt the rumblings of desire. He wanted to touch her and connect with her beauty.
          “You look like a model,” he said. “Like one of those girls in a shampoo commercial.”  
          Patty cracked a little smile.
          “Hmm,” she said, in a tone of mild amusement. She shifted her butt over to the left in an almost imperceptible twitch. She repeated the lathering process, this time with conditioner.
          Jim thought about pissing on the floor while her eyes were closed, but decided against it. His bladder felt swollen and distended. He sucked it in to compensate, which only added to his discomfort. He stepped towards her and wrapped his arms around her waist. With his head touching hers, he kissed her neck. Patty recoiled then caught herself and settled against him. They held each other for a moment, beneath the water. She then patted the back of his head dismissively and removed herself from his body. Suddenly, her eyes widened,and mouth opened.
          “You wouldn’t believe what happened at work today,” she said.  
          “What happened?” said Jim. He thought about sex and he thought about pissing.
          “I was in a meeting, with the whole department, and we were all discussing this new project and how it’s going to require a lot of Java programming, which I know nothing about—I mean, why would I? It’s a job that we should be hiring out for. That’s why we have a budget for contractors…” She waved her hand, signaling that the inadequate use of the department’s budget was not the point of the story. “Anyway, guess what my boss said.”  
          “What did he say?”
          “He said that we don’t have the money right now to hire out and that he thinks it’s best if I just handle it. Can you believe that? He’s just afraid to make a decision. So now I have to spend the next week in training. Learning how to program with Java. The IT guy even told my boss that he doesn’t think I’ll be able to handle it. He called my boss after the meeting and told him so. And do you know what my boss said?”  
          “What did he say?”  
          “He pretty much said he doesn’t care and that I’ll just have to pick it up somehow.”
          “Hopefully the training will be helpful.”
          “I guess.” She rolled her eyes. “Can you pass me my razor?”
          Patty applied a sheath of cream around her pubic area and made fierce swipes with the razor.  
          “Be careful,” said Jim, out of reflex. “You’re going to hurt yourself.”
          Patty responded with a sardonic laugh. “I think I know how to shave myself. I’ve been doing it long enough.”  
          Jim continued to watch Patty’s movements, part of him feeling defensive, like he should stop her from bringing the razor so close to his source of pleasure.  
          “Don’t you ever cut yourself?” he asked.
          “Every once in a while,” she said.  
          Jim flinched at the thought—the razor slicing that softest of skin. He thought about cutting his penis with the blade and touched his groin. Patty finished without a scratch.  
          “Can you soap up my back?” she asked.  
          Jim rubbed the bar of soap across her shoulders, moving his way down. With his hands he began to slide down, past her hips.
          She stepped beneath the water, stopping his movements. Jim pulled her into an embrace. With his hands on her lower back he kissed her on the lips. She kissed him back. The kiss felt wrong to him—inauthentic, like laughing at a bad joke out of politeness. But he continued to kiss her, with more passion and more hope. His limp member rested against her upper thigh, his round stomach touched her flat one.  
          “Sorry,” she said. “I’m just not in the mood.”
          “Are you sure?” he asked, lowering his voice. He reached down and touched her.  
          She pushed his hand away. “Maybe later,” she said.    
          Jim retreated under the stream of water.
          “Aren’t you going to wash yourself?” she asked.  
          “I haven’t sweated all day. I never sweat at work.”  
          “Are you done?” Patty asked, peeling back the curtain and stepping out.
          “I’m going to stay in for a bit.”  
          She made sure not to let any water out the side. Jim waited for her to dry off and leave the bathroom. He leaned forward and directed his humble manhood over the drain and pissed into the hole. The yellow stream flowed for what felt like an eternity. He touched his stomach, hoping that the emptying of his bladder had a noticeable effect on the size of his abdomen. It had not. The steamy air smelled of urine. Jim turned the nozzle, hoping for purification in the heat. His skin grew red. The steam grew thick. He couldn’t see a thing. His head felt dizzy. He sweated and squirted shampoo on the floor. But the stink of his piss remained.

Jon Herring lives in Philadelphia where he works in editing and writes during the evenings. In his free time he also serves as the Assistant Fiction Editor at Cleaver Magazine. His fiction, book reviews, and interviews have been published or are forthcoming at Cleaver, Crack the Spine, Foliate Oak, Philadelphia Stories, Piker Press, and Baby Teeth Magazine.