I wasn’t sure where it would be but my cousin remembered.  We took turns sticking our feet inside, then our legs.  The hole was shocking cold but the air was so hot that it made no difference to our core temperatures.

From outward appearances it was just a slightly darker circle of sand.  It was only when you pushed on it that bubbles came up and its nature was revealed.  It was easy to miss that circle on the wide beach and perhaps that’s why everyone wasn’t gathered around it, taking turns putting things in there.

Adults said it was an artesian well.  I wasn’t sure what type of well that was, if someone had dug it or if it was a natural phenomenon.  My cousin said there had, long ago, been a shack on the beach, and this had served as its plumbing source.  But during high tide that shack would have come into trouble.  Sinking down to his armpits, my cousin said there was a pipe down there, he was balancing on it, but I questioned how he knew what it was he was standing on, it might be a giant crab or something.  And it might very well have been nothing; my cousin might well have been lying; we often lied to each other and it would have been in both of our natures to try to get the other one to sink far down into the quicksand, looking for a pipe to stand on.

I never did, preferring to live in a world where my cousin was telling the truth this time, and a man long ago had lived in a stilted shack right out on the beach.  This had been his toilet.

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