The Gurgle: A Short Story

This is a short story I wrote for my creative writing class. I think it’s funny. I hope you enjoy the fact that I submitted this for a grade.

It all started with a gurgle – a slight grumble in his stomach. It wasn’t a particularly large gurgle, so Tom chalked it up to hunger. He was, after all, on his way to dinner. Dinner, he thought to himself as he looked over to his girlfriend, Gabby. She was sitting in the passenger seat of his Toyota Camry with AirPods in as she wrapped up a conversation with her mother.

“We’ll see you soon,” Tom heard her say before hanging up. Ordinarily, Tom would’ve asked what Gabby’s mother was making for dinner, but fear of breaking some kind of social rule of the first time meeting your girlfriend’s parents stopped him. He kept his curiosity about the contents of his next meal to himself.

The thought of food should have excited him, but instead he felt no desire to eat. Probably just nervesRelax. He turned the music up and checked the ETA on his Waze. Thirty minutes left. That’s when the second gurgle hit. A gurgle that warranted a small glance over from Gabby. Now, anyone familiar with gurgles knows that they can be most similarly compared to birthing contractions. They begin far apart, but as time goes on, they happen closer and closer together and get more and more intense. Tom was not a person unfamiliar with this knowledge. He knew he still had some time, but he also knew he would soon have to worry.

The rest of the drive went without much excitement. Foolishly, Tom believed he was safe. Maybe it was just because I’m hungry, he thought, but as he walked to the door with Gabby next to him, the third gurgle came. It was as if a hibernating bear suddenly snored from his stomach, and Tom quickly took notice of an intense pressure in his stomach that he knew would need to be resolved in the next five minutes – and even five minutes seemed like it might be too much time. Gabby’s mother greeted them at the door with a big “Hello!” and a hug that only sped the already time-sensitive process these gurgles had started along. Tom tried to put on a brave face as he shook Gabby’s father’s hand, but his desperate need to find a toilet was quickly overtaking his ability to make any small talk upon his entry into their home.

“Is there a bathroom I can use?” Tom asked after feeling like he’d said enough words to warrant use of their facilities. Preferably one out of earshot, he added in his mind. 

“The upstairs bathroom is being redone, but there’s one down the hall you can use,” Gabby’s mom told him.

Fuck. If there were any room for Tom’s stomach to drop, it would have. The devastation he felt when he heard the news must’ve been quite visible in his eyes – or maybe it was the charley horse he’d given himself after spending several minutes tightly clenching his buttocks. Whatever it was, it became very apparent to the people around him that he was in extreme discomfort, and as he walked toward the bathroom that felt more and more like a safe haven for his almost volcanic bowels, he could hear whispers from his girlfriend and her parents behind him. The only words he could actually make out were “penguin walk,” but at this point he was beyond caring about being embarrassed. The final three steps into the bathroom, shutting the door, locking it, and sitting down took more than an eternity, but the wait felt truly worth it when he could finally allow the gurgles to take over. 

From outside the bathroom, Gabby and her parents heard a medley of sounds that would make most small children begin to cry – and that’s not even to mention the smell. The smell that quickly encompassed the entirety of the house caused Tom’s audience to gag profusely, and Gabby’s father began to taste the remnants of his egg salad sandwich from earlier that day work its way back up his esophagus.

Inside the bathroom, Tom sat completely nude and leaned back on the cool porcelain with a grin of victory on his face. He slowly began to put his underwear and socks back on, and when he was fully dressed, he washed his hands and face in the sink, using paper towels to dry the sweat from his body. As he dug through the medicine cabinet in search of deodorant, he heard a knock at the door, and Gabby’s father’s voice snapped him back into reality. “Everything alright in there?”

He’d completely forgotten about the dinner he was meant to be attending, and when he checked his watch, he saw that thirty-seven minutes had passed since his entry into the bathroom. He felt his pockets for his phone, keys, and wallet, and when he confirmed that he had all his belongings, he only hesitated for a second before opening the door. 

Tom’s car ride home was gurgle free. It was also Gabby-free, but he hadn’t given her much choice in the matter. He’d barely even looked in her direction as he walked past her parents and right out the front door. He was sure he’d heard shouts of protest from both Gabby and her mother, but he didn’t care to truly listen to what they were saying. The deed had been done, and there was no coming back from it. Perhaps Wendy’s was a poor choice of lunch, but it certainly couldn’t do any more harm for dinner than it already had, so he put it into his GPS and pulled out of their driveway. 

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Written by TFM

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