The voice startles me, being unaccompanied by a face.
“Go on, shit yourself.”
I turn towards the sound, and find a man, about my age, fixing me with an insistent stare.
“I’m sorry, have you mistaken me for—”
“No time for chat, only time for shitting yourself,” he spits.
“I don’t want to shit myself?” I reply, the heavy absurdity of the words leaving my mouth slowing my meter.
“Ridiculous. How do you know unless you’ve tried?”
Somehow this gives me pause. But I’m not sure what the pause is for: forming an adequate retort, preparing to laugh, or making my excuses. It seems dangerous to laugh at a stranger imploring you to shit yourself.
“Listen, I don’t know what sort of—”
“Shit. Yourself. Shit yourself. It’s simple.”
Simple? Is simplicity enough? Just because it’s easy to... wait! Why am I reasoning with this? It’s silly.
“Look, I don’t know who you are, but it’s pretty well established that—”
“Yeah, yeah. Everyone says not to shit yourself. You think I haven’t heard that one before?”
Wait. How many people has he been telling to shit themselves? And who? And why am I still trying to grapple with this nonsense? That voice again.
“Look, you can’t just go through life avoiding what others’ tell you to. Just because 99% of people say shitting yourself is bad, doesn’t mean it’s true does it? Argumentum ad populum, mate.”
I mean... technically he is right there. There’s more to it than that, of course! But on that specific point... in terms of...
“Well?!” His voice coarsens as the urgency increases. He’s hitting his wrist where his watch would have lived.
“Look, it’s not that. It’s just... well... it’s just obviously not a good...”
“Oh! Obvious, is it?” comes a cruel laugh. “Was the theory of special relativity just OBVIOUS? What about microcomputing? Would have just been OBVIOUS to you, I suppose.”
“What? Microcomputing is clearly not the same as—”
“Biased! Shit yourself.”
“Look, babies shit—”
“Anecdotal! Shit yourself.”
“What? Who the hell are you anyw—”
“Ad hominem! Shit yourself.”
“Fine!” I shout, and in a confusion of defiance and compliance I make it happen. I put an end to it. And as I do so, I watch his face soften, the creases dissolving one by one.
“Thanks, mate,” he beams, patting my shoulder. “I didn’t want to be the only one with shat trousers at this wedding. Which side are you, anyway? Bride or groom?”
“Bride...” I hear myself say, my mind departing my head.
A ghost, I join him up the steps into the chapel, arriving precisely on time.