I was very, very small. The cubicle walls were very, very tall. That was the entire issue, really. The contrast of those facts. The difference in-between. Small people never have it easy. Particularly small people who are kids, and pretty weak by proxy. I couldn’t get the lock to open no matter how hard I tried. It was well and truly stuck. I was crying.
I’m sure we’ve all been stuck in a loo at some point in our lives. Perhaps it was recently, perhaps it was a couple of months ago, ten years ago. Maybe it’s pending, and a little toilet cubicle is just waiting for you to go into it so it can trap you, rubbing its invisible hands with glee. Cheap thrills.
I was between five and seven when this happened to me, ballpark – very young and very weak, and not at all handy with rusty, jammed door locks (can’t say I am now, either. It takes like 10 minutes for me to leave my house every morning/get back into my house every evening. But don’t think I’m a vulnerable target for that, mind – I can throw a mean kick. [Just saying in case any prospective attackers are reading this]).
I remember feeling profoundly unimpressed, staring at that grey, unmoving door. That door was a mean guy. I was so annoyed by the sheer injustice of it all. I was on holiday. Bad things should never happen on HOLIDAY. And now my HOLIDAY was OVER, because seemingly I would be stuck in this unsanitary prison FOREVER, with ABSOLUTELY NO means of escape, unless I somehow underwent a Spiderman-like transformation right there and then which was unlikely, all things considered.
I was also afraid. I was afraid because I was young enough to still be under the impression that, without a parent or guardian present, Bad Things Would Happen to you, inevitably, and I desperately did not want Bad Things To Happen to me – eg., dying from starvation in that cubicle as no-one could get me out. (I also did not want to have to drink the muggy toilet water to survive. That would not have been cool.)
The cubicle door was unrelenting, and there were no gaps underneath it, and my mum was on the other side of the door, and she couldn’t get to me. These all seemed like Very Bad Things in my head which would lead to Bad Things Happening. My dad came in (to the girl’s loos! Horror! That just signifies how much he wanted to save me) and he couldn’t do anything, either. Despite the hopelessness of the situation they kept telling me I’d be fine, but I knew this was a greasy lie because they were also talking to each other in French, which they often did/do when they’re trying to have a shady conversation. (I assume at this point in my debacle they were planning my funeral arrangements, where I would look ridiculous, as I would have to be buried STILL within this cubicle to which I was eternally condemned.)
Fortunately, we never got to that stage. Fortunately, someone knew what to do.
I first met her via her foot. It was peeking over the top of the cubicle, soon after followed by an ankle, then a calf, then a knee, then a thigh.
The person coming over the top of the cubicle was the damn tallest person you’ve ever seen. She was a blonde, perhaps mid-thirties, and her legs stretched on, and on, and on. I remember them vividly in long, spider-like glory.
This woman wasn’t just a pair of legs, however (though I did spend most of my time trapped in the cubicle with her gawping at them from behind. They were immense to tiny me). They were, as is the case with most humans, attached to a pelvis that was followed by a torso and a face that determined her as human. She was so tall, and I was so young and imaginative, I may have been on the brink of deciding she was something other than, as no people are that tall in REAL LIFE. (I am aware now that this could have been a perspective thing, and were I to meet her again now I would probably decide that she was just a pretty tall person, as opposed to a humanoid electric eel in a black, tailored suit.)
The blonde lady smiled at me comfortingly. She had slight wrinkles around her eyes and on her cheeks. She smelled nice. She then turned to the business of releasing me from my prison/tomb. She grappled with the lock. The door swung open. I was free to forget it ever happened. Except I haven’t. Because of my loo saviour, I will remember it always – but chiefly, I’ll remember those long, spindly legs.