Five minutes of this, ten. Maybe fifteen. I thought about jumping up and running, shouting from the toilet stall, "I can't take it anymore, I just can't take it!" I had an image of my rushing through the main hall of the restaurant and out onto the sidewalk and down the street with this long, flowing, undulating, thin white membrane snaking and snapping behind me, getting caught in pedestrian's feet, having dogs and cats chasing it as if it were some sort of plaything. So I kept sitting. Almost sobbing.

The routine reinstated itself. Toilet paper, stifling sobs, reaching down, pulling it out, hand over hand, the zigzag feeling deep in the guts, thinking about grocery lists, wondering about the meaning of life, pulling and lip trembling and knowing I had had killed it without thinking – never even given it a name or or taught it to do tricks. Then suddenly, I reached down and there was nothing there. Nothing dangling. Just air!

I leapt up straight into the air, spun around, and nothing spun around with me. I faced the bowl. Slowly, cautiously, I moved my face toward its opening, wary that the worm might leap up at my throat. There it was. Twisted around in all sorts of swirls and crisscrosses, resembling limp linguini. There was also a hell of a lot of toilet paper in there.

My tapeworm did not pant, did not throb, did not shake or tremble. It lay tangled in itself, seemingly harmless, and I had a momentary urge of scientific inquiry, wondering whether I should not scoop it out with my bare hands, place it in an airtight jar, and take it with me on trips to show to people when I tell this story and relive this life-changing experience. Share. Publish it online or in learned print journals. With illustrations.

As if. I flushed that sucker goodbye.

What's lived in you?