This story is by Roseann Cotton and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Stepping from the bathtub, I tripped on a slipper. My body hurled head first toward the door like a football player tackling a wide receiver. The door, left slightly ajar because I didn’t trust the loose doorknob, slammed shut. I heard the glass doorknob, typical of homes built in the 1920s, drop onto the hallway carpet. I winced as the inside part of the knob hit my shoulder on its descent to the floor. After rubbing my throbbing shoulder, I reached for the object. I ignored the water dripping from my shampooed hair and the goosebumps covering my wet body. My priority was opening the door.
I growled at the piece of hardware as I inserted it into the hole. I turned the knob. Nothing happened. After a bazillion attempts, I shouted, “Damn it, Steve! It’s all your fault!” Every time I had asked my husband the past few weeks to secure the doorknob, he answered, “I’ll get around to it.” I flung the knob toward the opposite wall. The knob hit the toilet instead, bouncing upward and cracking the window.
My dripping wet body shook in a way I couldn’t control. I raised myself, slipping on the moist tiles. I grabbed the vanity to prevent another encounter with the floor. Snatching a towel, I rubbed the fluffy cotton material along my entire body, then let it drop to the floor, ready to dress.
Oh no! On any other morning, I brought my clothing to the bathroom. But today I disrobed and left every item in the bedroom. Even my underwear. I tilted my head upward, exhaling a heavy sigh. At least I’d turned on the furnace. I pulled the toilet lid down and positioned my bare butt on it. I bowed my head, clenching my fists until the nails dug into the palm of my hands. I didn’t notice. I was only aware of my pounding heart, moist eyes, and state of undress. Spotting my slippers, I reached for them and slipped my feet inside. Ah . . .
I’m stuck here until hubby gets home from work . . . eight rotten hours from now! I picked up my watch lying by the sink. Seven fifty. I should be walking out of the house on my way to school. What will my twenty-six fifth grade students and the principal do when I failed to show up? A hurricane of thoughts consumed me. Will they worry? Try to contact me? Come by the house? Today is Willy’s turn for his oral book report. He needs my moral support! I have to escape.
I paced back and forth like a caged tiger, weighing my options. There was one: climb out the window. Thankfully, the bathroom was on the ground floor and faced the backyard. No one, I hoped, would see a woman in all her naked splendor exiting the house and perhaps notify the cops. Hmmm . . . There was a tattered beach towel in the linen closet. I can wrap it around me. Notwithstanding my modesty, traipsing outside covered by only a towel was not a welcome prospect on a chilly February morning.
I approached the window and unlocked it. I attempted to push the bottom half up. Every muscle tensed as I used every ounce of strength I could muster. My grunts would have awakened the dead. The ringing phone interrupted my concentration. One, two, three . . . ten, eleven, twelve times it rang before silence. I’ll bet that’s the principal. My resolve increased. After several more unsuccessful attempts, I noticed the window was painted shut. Crap! I slumped onto the toilet seat, half crying, half laughing. Now what? I stared at the defiant window. Ah ha! Break it. It was already cracked.
I searched for something, anything that was heavy enough to break the glass. How about the hair dryer? Nah. I eyed a tiny screwdriver. Not heavy enough. My foot? I pictured myself taking a running leap and using a karate kick. Who am I kidding? I managed a subdued giggle at that ridiculous prospect. My arm. I found the thickest towel and wrapped it around my right arm. With much trepidation, I bashed the protected arm against the glass. Nothing. Not even another crack. I repeated the effort. Ditto. One more time. Same result. Crawling out the window was a stupid idea anyway. Even if I escaped, both the front and back doors were locked with no hidden key outside. I’d planned to place a key in a hiding place but never got around to it.
I collapsed onto my hands and knees, defeated. I crawled to the door and beat it until my knuckles ached. It felt like the walls were closing in on me. My heart rate began to speed up and my breathing became shallow and quick. Claustrophobia threatened. I couldn’t – wouldn’t – succumb. I lay face up on the throw rug, forcing myself to tense every muscle, inhale, count to ten, exhale. What seemed a thousand breaths later, my breathing returned to normal.
I had no choice. I was captive until hubby came home. Resigned to the situation, I dried and styled my hair, and killed time experimenting with different makeup combinations. I convinced myself an attractive woman was staring back from the mirror. It wouldn’t hurt to lose a few pounds, but my hubby loved every inch of my twenty-seven-year-old body. His opinion was all that mattered. Other men only noticed my breasts. No matter what style of bra I wear, they appear unnatural, enhanced. I hate them. If I could swap for smaller boobs, I’d do so in a heartbeat.
Noon arrived. My stomach growled. My body felt shaky. I was hungry as a bear in spring. I almost salivated thinking about the meatloaf sandwich sitting on the kitchen counter. Luckily, I could sip water from the faucet and relieve myself when my bladder filled.
I’d spent the last hours scrubbing every nook and cranny in the bathroom, even pulling out the slimy hair strands from the bathtub drain. Housework is my sworn enemy, but I’m not the type to waste time doing nothing. Besides, the spic and span cleaning kept my mind, a smidgeon at least, off this predicament. Cleaning practically nude. A new experience.
Devouring books is my passion. If only there was something to read. Even hubby’s hunting magazines would suffice. I willed myself to think positive thoughts when my heart began hammering in my chest and claustrophobia again stalked my mind. Exercise? I got on the floor and began pushups. Maybe I can get past twenty. One, two, three . . .
A few miserable hours later I heard my husband’s new 1975 Ford pickup roar up the driveway. As soon as his heavy boots hit the kitchen linoleum, I screamed his name and pounded on the door. “Get me out of here!”
“What the hell?” he asked, tossing his jacket on the floor and dropping his lunch box.
“I’m trapped inside,” I yelled.
He reached to open the door. “Where’s the friggin knob?”
“It fell onto the carpet. Can’t you see it?”
I heard the sound of the knob fitting into the lock, and to my relief, the click of the bolt sliding back. The door opened, striking me. I fell backward, landing on my butt. My legs spread apart and the beach towel slid off. I detected hubby stifle a chuckle at the sight of me sprawled on the floor naked as a newborn baby. He rushed to my aid. I hugged him with the strength of a weightlifter. I’d never been so excited to see him. Tears flowed as I could barely get the words out describing my day imprisoned in the bathroom.
I believe he deemed the incident amusing but didn’t risk expressing that. “So sorry.” His eyes focused on my tempting body. “I’ve never been greeted so warmly by a nude goddess,” he said, running his fingers up and down my spine.
I stepped back and bolted toward the door, to freedom.
“Wait,” he said, grabbing my arm. He reached into the linen closet and pulled out the flathead screwdriver I’d seen earlier. He waved it in front of my face. “All you had to do was insert this into the hole and the door would have opened. Guaranteed.”
My eyes glared at him and I shouted. “You mean, I spent the whole day locked in this damn bathroom when this would have opened the door?” I seized the screwdriver and hurled it. It hit the window, shattering the glass. Fragments sailed everywhere.
“Fix the knob. NOW!”
He kissed my forehead. “Don’t’ worry. I’ll get around to it.”