The first in a 3-part series called “The Locked in Series”. As we are all “locked in” at the moment, let me tell you a true childhood story about being locked in the toilet.
From the age of six to thirteen years of age I lived with my mum and dad and four older siblings in a two storied railway house. A two storied house, or a ‘double decker house’ as slightly older sister and I used to say, weren’t so common in those days of the late fifties and sister and I were as happy as sand boys to live there.
The toilet was situated upstairs at the beginning of the landing in the top corner of the house. It had a key on the inside so the door could be locked. This lock was only halfway through the door so that there was a keyhole and key on the inside of the toilet, but not on the outside.
One lovely sunny day when I was about six or seven, while playing on the lawn outside with my broomstick horse jumping over old fruit boxes, I realised I needed to go to the toilet.
‘Slooow, Midnight’, I called to my horse with its black socked head as I came to a stop. ‘Wait here’, I said, and tied Midnight’s rope reins to the clothesline pole.
I went inside the house and up the stairs to the toilet. Mum was in the kitchen making scones, Dad was reading the newspaper at the dining table, and older siblings were in various places such as the lounge or the bedrooms doing whatever older siblings did. Nothing interesting like riding a champion horse called ‘Midnight’.
Naturally with so many people around I locked the toilet door. After finishing what was needed and cranking the flush handle, I got distracted by a couple of dead moths on the windowsill.
Somehow, I had the idea that the golden dust on the wings of moths sprinkled onto a person would enable that person to fly. I think this idea was derived from the fairy; Tinkerbell in the Peter Pan stories.
The moths were dead so I knew I couldn’t cause them any harm. I removed as much golden dust from the moths’ wing and dropped it onto my shoulders. I then flapped my arms and hoped my feet would lift off the ground. It didn’t work of course so I tried it a couple more times just in case.
‘Blast’, I thought to myself. ‘That didn’t work’.
With that out of the way, I unlocked the toilet door to return to riding Midnight. At least I tried to unlock the door. The key didn’t fully turn and click as it normally did. I gave it another go. No luck. I tried some more times. The door didn’t unlock.
I started to panic. I imagined myself stuck in the toilet forever. I would die here. There was water in the bowl (yuck) but no food. I would starve. The panic increased.
‘Help’, I yelled. ‘Help me. Mum, Dad, help me. Oh, please help’. I banged my fists on the door and screamed with rising hysteria.
Mum came running up the stairs with Dad not far behind her. ‘What’s wrong?’ called Mum.
‘Mum, I’m stuck. I can’t undo the lock’.
‘Turn the key slowly, Susan. You can do it’. I tried.
‘No, I can’t. It won’t open’.
Dad said, ‘Yes, you can. Try it again. Turn it slowly and firmly’. I tried but the door wouldn’t unlock.
My siblings joined Mum and Dad on the landing. They made encouraging noises but I also heard some laughter (the dirty rats). I started to cry and tears ran down my cheeks.
‘I’m going to die’, I wept in distress.
‘No, you won’t’, said Dad. ‘I’m going to get the axe and break down the door’.
He went downstairs to the shed outside and returned with the axe.
‘Give it just one more go’, he said.
I did, and the door unlocked. I flew into Mum’s arms and she comforted me with a hug and soft words. Dad hugged me too. My older siblings found it very funny, but Mum told them to ‘cut it out’.
Mum took me downstairs and gave me a hot buttered scone. Dad returned the axe to the shed and my siblings returned to whatever they had been doing. It took sometime before my nerves settled and I swore I’d never lock that toilet door again.
And I didn’t.
Read part 2 of The Locked in Series here.