Antipodean: Pipes

Words by Annabel Brady-Brown

Pictures by Simon Cottee

Published on September 10, 2014

My laptop is hot on my thighs. I’m trying not to wake my housemates, so I’m whispering to your face on my screen. I tell you I miss the sunshine and sitting by the canal, watching the swans.
You say summer’s over and it’s okay, you ate all the swans. My face aches from smiling. These are the good bits. I’d do this all night if we could. But you’ve got class, I’ve got to be up for my PR job in the morning, and we reluctantly admit that after four hours of Skyping we both need to piss.
Before you hang up, you say that you’re going to piss down the toilet bowl towards my hemisphere. So that from our different ends we’ll be pissing towards each other, and our piss will find each other and make out somewhere in the sewer pipes in the middle of the planet. I laugh — there’s nothing else I can do — but it feels like the most romantic thing you’ve ever said.
In the bathroom of my sharehouse, I gaze at the flushing toilet. Like maybe I could just reach in and grab you, as if you were a hairball stuck in the pipes.
Or maybe the German swans are on their way; a pair of missives that you’ve sent me like a bunch of white, waddling roses. I see them clamber out of the toilet, head down the corridor and into my room, jumping onto my single bed.
They will rub their wet feathers against my body and honk through the night.
These are the shitty bits. The bathroom tiles are icy beneath my feet. I hear one of my housemates snoring and a possum foraging through the rubbish in the yard, and I feel hopelessly out of sync with the city around me. I hop back and forth on my cold toes as I watch the toilet, waiting for something that I know can’t happen, and it sucks.
And then I think, fuck it.
I strip off my nightie and grab the rubber gloves and goggles lying on top of the washing machine and, after a moment’s hesitation, also the inflatable ring duck someone left in the bath-tub, which I pull over my bra and undies.
Better safe than sorry, as you always say.
I yell down the toilet, probably waking the neighbourhood, “Outta my way, swans!” and I dive into the bowl. It’s dark, the water’s lukewarm — which is creepy — and it’s hurtling down like rapids. I cling to my duck. Schools of dead goldfish swim past, tangling in my hair. The current pulls me forward and under; I feel like I’m tubing with no end in sight, and I know it looks like I’m crying but I promise it’s just the pipe roof dripping toilet water on my face, and there’s no turning back now, and goodbye Australia, and shit do I have my passport? and BABY, BABY, YOU HEAR ME? I’M COMING FOR YOU, BABY, I’M COMING.