One Page Stories

Potty Break

Hanna reached up and pulled on the door handle, but the door was too heavy for her to open. It hadn’t felt this heavy when she pushed it open to come in, but now, even though she was hanging off the handle with her whole weight, she couldn’t pull the massive wooden door toward her.

“Mommy!” she called. “I can’t get the door open!”

From the other side of the door, she could hear a lot of noise. Everyone was talking so loudly! It was like they were all yelling at each other. How was her mother supposed to hear her over all that yelling?

“Mommy!” she called again. “Help!”

The yelling out in the restaurant grew even louder now, and Hanna struggled not to cry as she assessed her situation. She looked around the single-stall bathroom, but there weren’t any windows or anything. “Mommy,” she whimpered, tugging again on the door. What was going on out there? It sounded like banging now, and Hanna couldn’t understand why there would be banging – or yelling – at the Billy’s Burgers. Billy’s Burgers was a nice place. They always had good food, really fast. There was no reason to get angry at them. Something was really weird, she thought. “Mommy?”

There was a lot more banging, and the yelling had turned to screaming. Hanna started to feel strange about it. At first she had been afraid that she’d be trapped in the bathroom forever, but now she was almost afraid that the heavy door would open. She reached up and pushed in the little button that locked the door. “Mommy,” she whispered. She turned and sat down in the corner, and pulled her knees up to her chest. “Mommy.”

She waited for a really long time, until all the screaming stopped, and all the banging. She thought maybe she should try to open the door, but she didn’t want to. She stayed huddled in the corner, trying to disappear into the tile floor, and didn’t make a sound.

After what felt like hours and hours, the handle on the giant door turned and jiggled. “Hello?” a man’s voice called. “Is someone in here? It’s the police.”

Hanna debated answering. Sometimes on TV the bad guys pretended to be police. Her mother had said not to talk to strangers unless she knew they were police, and Hanna couldn’t see if the man was really a policeman or not. But she had been in here for such a long time, and she didn’t know where her mother was. She didn’t want to be in the bathroom forever.

“I – I’m in here,” she said. She started to cry. “I want my mommy!”

She heard the man’s voice talking to someone behind him, and then some rustling, and the sound of a key. The handle turned again, and the heavy door swung inward. The man walked in, and he was wearing a uniform. When he saw Hanna he crouched down immediately and held his hand out to her. “Are you okay, sweetie?” he asked, gesturing at someone out in the restaurant.

Hanna nodded. “Are you really a policeman?” Hanna asked. “I’m not supposed to talk to strangers unless I know they’re policemen.”

The officer smiled. “I really am,” he said, pointing to his badge. Behind him, a woman entered the bathroom; she was also in a uniform and had a badge.

“Come on, honey,” the woman said, and bent down and held her arms out to Hanna. “We’ve got to get you out of here, okay?”

Hanna eyed the badges. They looked real, and there were red and blue flashing lights reflecting off the walls outside the bathroom door. “Okay,” she decided finally, and allowed the woman to pick her up. “Do you know where my mom is?”

“We’ll find her, okay?” the woman said. The policeman had a towel, and he covered Hanna’s head with it.

“Close your eyes, sweetie,” he told Hanna, and Hanna did what he said. Why did he put the towel on her head, she wondered. But she was too tired now to do anything but rest her head on the woman’s shoulder.

She peeked down as the woman carried her out of the bathroom and then out of the restaurant; the floor was covered with glass and red stuff. She wanted to ask what it was, but she didn’t want the policeman to think she wasn’t listening to his instructions. She closed her eyes again, and, maybe because she had been scared for so long, she fell asleep somehow, and didn’t even notice the woman setting her down in the back of the police car.

She slept a long time.

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