The Compost Bin – A Short Story

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The world is in trouble. We’ve all known this for a long time, but conservation efforts are no longer only made by bearded liberals. Here in my country, we have state mandated recycling programs. In the basement of my apartment building, we have separate bins to sort our used cans, bottles, paper, and even old clothes. My favourite bin though, and the subject of this tale is the compost bin for our food waste.

I was overjoyed when I first saw it there. I like the idea of saving the planet, and food in the garbage often stank up my apartment, especially during the summer when it’s hot. A big grin could be seen stretching my lips on my return journeys from the basement after the compost bin showed up. It was the satisfied smile of a man playing his part for the environment.

About 2 months after this big brown bin appeared, something very special happened.

It was an exceedingly hot day, and the bowl I used to collect my food scraps was emitting an unpleasant odor. It contained the carcass of a rotisserie chicken and half a withered red onion. This fine feast was topped with some rancid yoghurt that should have been thrown out months before. When I found the yogh-cartons at the back of my fridge, I emptied their contents on top of the chicken skeleton and proceeded to rinse out the cartons so that they too could be recycled. As I carried the bowl of compost downstairs, its powerful stench waves assaulted my nostrils.

The air around the larger compost bin downstairs was worse. Every breath within a 5 meter radius of it tasted like a mouthful of hot, rank soup. After the slow process of emptying my bowl and all of its slimy contents, I was starting to feel nauseous. I hacked the phlegm from the back of my throat and voided my rheum into the compost bin.
I walked away feeling upbeat and refreshed. On my way up the stairs, I wondered about the fate of the phlegm and spittle I had left atop the stinking pile of rot. Slowly but surely, it would become an indistinguishable part of the slurry, its molecules mixing with those of the chicken carcass, and those hybrid molecules would go on to mix with the remains of the vegan curry that I had earlier smelled cooking in my neighbour’s apartment. After the mixing would come decay, but after sufficient rotting had ensued, the compost would be spread on a farm, and crops would be grown from it. My loogie might go on to become part of a carrot, and due to my faith in the cyclical nature of the universe, I felt it fairly likely that I should be the man to eat that very carrot.

What a reward! I had become an active participant in the circle of life. From thereon, it was a rare occurrence for me to take out the compost without leaving a little of myself in the mix. Mostly it would be a little spit or a large crispy snot, freshly picked, but sometimes I would go further and merrily give a a handful of toenail clippings.

I quickly became fixated on giving myself to the task, and little would be emitted from my body that would not end up in the brown bin downstairs. My compost bowl that I used leave on my microwave could often be seen housing a mushy tissue or a piece of skin picked from my foot. Once every few months, it would cater to the needs of my freshly clipped hair, both cranial and pubic. I once gave it my beard trimmings, but they were a nuisance to get out of the end of the bowl after mixing with the sickening sooly that lurked there.

Now every man has his limits, and while I am a dedicated conservationist, I also have my dignity. I refrained from ever putting my feces into the compost bin, not for any moral reason, but because doing so should properly stink out my kitchen. Yes, I refrained from doing so, but I can’t lie and say I never thought about it. In truth, it became a fantasy of mine, and you can only imagine my mirth when my stars aligned and there was a plumbing failure in my apartment building that took away our running water and prevented the toilets from flushing.

I was lucky. My toilet was clean and flushed when the failure occurred, so my house was not immediately effected. The landlord hired a portapotty for my neighbours and I, but it was not sufficient defense against the army of bowels in need of evacuation in our building, and this facility was quickly rendered unusable by a veritable mountain of dung that peaked well above the toilet lid. Only a contortionist would have been able to use it without making a repulsive mess of themselves.

I resolved to stay at home and to satiate my need in an environmentally friendly manner. I squatted above a large sheet of butchers’ paper (folded twice to protect my carpet) and squeezed out a hard lump of blackened gick. The process was made painful but rather tidy by the fact that I hadn’t drank anything in a couple of days on account of the lack of running water in the building. The painful mass of hideous scum that I produced was truly a labour of love.

It took but two crisp wipes with some more butcher’s paper to tidy myself up, and after doing so I placed my little parcel into my compost bowl and took it straight down to the basement. Dropping off my dropping was like seeing off an emigrant child at the airport. It was hard to say goodbye, but it was also exciting to think of the prospects of that small part of me to which I was bidding adieu. My pellet was fresh and ready to fertilise.

The plumbing was soon fixed, but I had developed a taste for leaving different parts of myself in the compost bin. I became obsessed with spreading my DNA. The more I gave, the more likely it would be that somebody of great importance might some day ingest a small part of me. I found momentary satisfaction by donating my collection of the baby teeth of my childhood, but I could feel the urge growing. My mantra became, “To live, I must give.”

One day, while preparing an offering of my toenails, I dug a little too deep and ended up with a small slice of flesh under the blade of my clippers. It caused great pain, but the agony was outweighed by the ecstasy of knowing that this tiny slice of flesh would go on to give life. I couldn’t stop myself from digging a little deeper under the next nail, and a little deeper on the next.

In the ensuing weeks I read several books on the anatomy of the human being. Using these books as a I guide, I plotted a map of the least essential parts of the human body, and over the following months I used this map to guide my trusty nail-clippers to the parts of my person that could be slowly excavated without serious risk to my survival. As time went on and I became accustomed to the pain, I began to use a pair of scissors to remove larger chunks of useless flesh, starting with my earlobes and moving on to larger, more sensitive unnecessaries. I’m not stupid though, and I have refrained from removing anything that could prevent me from making my nightly trips to the compost bin to present my offerings. Acquiring sustenance has become more difficult though, and recently I have been having all of my food delivered. I leave the money on the doorstep and collect the food only when I am sure there is nobody in sight. There is very little left of my face, and my skull is showing through several parts of my head. I fear that anyone who sees me might fail to understand why I’m doing what I’m doing. No, the layman might not be capable of appreciating the generous and spiritual nature of my sacrifice.

I feel now though that the final stage of my gift to the world is approaching. After I finish typing this manuscript, I shall take a knife and dice my flesh, leaving sufficient strands of skin and muscle to hold me together for my final journey. This slicing will be no act of masochism but a carefully planned act that should speed up decomposition. At this stage you will have guessed my destination, but do not, gentle reader, deny me the pleasure of announcing my plans. Yes. Oh yes, yes, yes. Tonight, I shall undress, wait until the coast is clear and then walk down to that big brown compost bin for the final time. With glee I shall climb inside that reverse womb and continue my journey towards rejuvenation and rebirth. Death is an illusion. I shall become life itself.

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