[From a novella in progress.]

Anna had to make a wee, but the bathroom door was closed. Although the knob was above her head, she could reach it on tiptoe — a glass knob, with little smears of white paint on it. She turned it and pushed the door halfway open.

The toilet was right behind the door. Her naked father stood in profile, holding some part of himself over the bowl. She never saw his face. She never saw what he was holding. As soon as the door opened, he slammed it shut again, just missing her. His voice was a roar: “DON’T YOU EVER COME INTO THE BATHROOM WHEN I’M IN IT!” Why was he so angry when she hadn’t known he was there?

And she had to go so badly! She burst into tears. Her mother came running. Now her father was yelling at her mother. Her mother spoke through the door, saying calm-sounding things in the foreign language they used with each other sometimes. Then she took Anna away to the kitchen, where she taught her to sit on a saucepan on the floor whenever she had to make a wee or a stinky and her father was in the bathroom. The saucepan dug a circle in her hiney. It hurt.

“Sometimes I have to use a pan, too,” her mother confided.

Grown-up Anna occasionally looks at the height of doorknobs, trying to estimate how old she could have been when this happened. Certainly not more than three.



8 thoughts on “BATHROOM

  1. martha mendelsohn

    Mmm, this is whetting my appetite for the rest of the novella! I once walked in on my father in the shower when I was very little and he had a fit, too. But I did get to see the forbidden body part.


  2. Martha, you DID hear more of this novella (although not all) three or more years ago when I was still coming in to New York for the SLC Prose Writing Group. I gave up after about forty-five pages. (I’m a strong starter, not so good at finishing. That may be why blogging works for me: Begin, say a little bit, and goodbye!) Perhaps the novella reads better in teeny tiny bits? At any rate, I may now have to sit down and try to finish it, wherever it goes. I just had a nibble — keep your fingers crossed — from an agent! And I have no merchandise (other than one unsold story and the blog) in inventory to show him! P.S. Thank you — at last, at last! — for the “follow.” I see you finally figured out how to do it. 😀


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