Sunday, October 3, 2010


Prompt: Create a story based on this plot: gets trapped in the bathroom on Valentine’s Day


Response: Push

Eli sank down against the cold tile wall of the public bathroom, no longer concerned with the plethora of germ colonies that were certain to dwell on the smooth surface. He looked over at the closed door and thought again how very much his life was akin to being locked in a bathroom on Valentine's Day.

His suit, which he had pressed with even more care than he usually employed that morning, was wrinkled and looked like he had been wearing it for several days instead of the few hours he had actually had it on. He had hummed while ironing - a tuneless, somewhat irritating noise - and had looked forward to daydreaming about telling Veronique "Happy Valentine's" and perhaps smiling.

He had known that he would not be giving her the box of chocolates he had ordered from the inter-office candy message service and that he would not look Veronique in the eye, much less offer her a holiday salutation, but he had so looked forward to imagining it. And he had somehow managed to get trapped in a public restroom between his house and work.

It was so typical of his life that he should have expected it, he suspected.
It was the same as when he had almost decided to check out band tryouts in eightieth grade, leaving his clarinet in a teacher's classroom so that none of his classmates would tease him, only to have it knocked from its perch on a shelf and damaged beyond repair.

It was the same as when he had almost decided to ask Ingrid to homecoming in high school. He had practiced what he would say and imagined the scene all day, waiting for the faith period class they had shared together, only to discover that Ingrid was off visiting her step-father in New Jersey and would not even be home during homecoming.

Eli pulled the box of slightly worse for wear chocolates from his suit pocket and looked at them. He thought that he might as well eat them - if he did not, he might starve after all - but it seemed so unsanitary to be eating sat-on chocolate in a men's room.

He toyed with the idea of opening the box, but chocolate was so unhealthy anyway. Perhaps he would rather die of starvation than eat food that was both unhealthy and unsanitary, he thought.

As he came to the conclusion that he should wait a few hours longer before deciding, the bathroom door swung open.

The man who came in looked worried for a moment as though wondering if Eli was a vagabond hiding out in the bathroom to mug unsuspecting visitors and then he suddenly laughed. "Are you stuck in here, buddy?"

Eli felt his neck flush, but he nodded, not speaking. His eyes kept flashing to the door which had once again swung shut.

The man laughed again. He had a beefy neck that thrummed when he threw his head back. "Happened to me a few weeks ago."

He shoved one hand against the door. Miraculously, it opened.

"You just have to push really hard."

Eli nodded again, standing and edging toward the escape.

"Those chocolates for a girl?" The man asked casually.

Eli nodded.

The man laughed again. "Go get'em, tiger."

Eli turned to go and the man spoke again. "Remember, push real hard."

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