In the amount of time it took twenty friends to passionately perform the Friends theme song, Erin Minami was able to pound and yell for her friend, Jessica Morris, to open up her dumb, stupid, jammed bathroom door a grand total of eight times.
All to no avail, of course, because her desperate pleas were drowned out by the worst rendition of Friends to reach another living being's ears.
When everyone moved onto Bohemian Rhapsody, Erin finally admitted defeat and flopped onto the bathroom floor. You know, she rationalized, this might not be so bad. There were worse places to be trapped, after all. The Morris family's spacious bathroom was actually quite nice—warm white lights, dark ebony cabinets, two marble sinks, a large bathtub, and a frightening number of fluffy towels. Heck, the Morris' entire house was great, thus why Jessica usually ended up hosting these house parties.
Erin tilted her head against the cool bathroom tile wall and sighed. The party had been fun, don't get her wrong, but this whole locked-in-the-bathroom situation could potentially—
A person's groggy and very off-key voice reverberated from the Morris' luxurious bathtub. Erin nearly jumped ten feet into the air. Oh my gosh, I thought I was alone in here.
"Didn't mean to make you cryyyyyyy."
A hand shot up from the tub and gripped the rim, bringing a head of coffee-colored hair and a crumpled red sweatshirt into view.
"If I'm not back again this time tomorrowwww"
Mercifully, Malcolm Bradley stopped "singing" to rub his bleary eyes. He opened his mouth to attempt the next verse when he met Erin's horrified gaze.
"Yoooo," he woozily pointed. Erin could practically hear the gears turning in his mind as Malcolm tried to remember her name. "Erinnnnn!" He finally cheered. "What's up?" Power switch, power switch! She screamed internally. Erin imagined one of those large stadium levers turning on inside of her, lighting up an entire baseball field. Every single light bulb illuminated. Bright, brighter, brightest.
"Malcolm, oh my gosh!" Erin laughed, her voice rising a few pitches. "I had no idea you were in here!" Malcolm gave a sloppy smile and asked,
"So, like, was that you screaming at the door?" Erin clucked her tongue and gave an exaggerated grin.
"Yeah, it had it coming though. Door's jammed, it looks like we're stuck in here for a while." Malcolm didn't notice her inner panic as he ruffled his hair and looked down at himself.
"I feel bad for being in their bathtub," he muttered. "I don't even remember how I got in here."
"How about at the party before this? And the one before that?" Erin preened. That got a chuckle out of Malcolm.
"Oh man, it's a distressing trend, huh?" Erin bobbed her head and looked down, silently wracking her mind about what to say next. What now, how can I fill this dead air, what do I say…
"Oh," Malcolm piped up, looking alert. "Oh shoot. You probably have to, uh, go to the bathroom or something. Uhhh…" he glanced at the window, but the tiny circular glass pane was not a viable exit strategy. "I can lay face down in the tub, grab a towel, and put it over my head. O-or something else…" Erin blanched.
"Uhhh..." This is weird, she thought. Considerate, but weird. "Actually, I didn't come in here to…you know," she stumbled, pulling at her fingers. "I just wanted some peace and quiet." Malcolm tilted his head.
"You don’t seem the quiet type." Power switch on, power switch on! She willed those stadium lights to brighten up inside her.
"Oh," Erin giggled artificially, waving her hand. "Long day, gotta rest sometime, you know?" Malcolm lazily nodded, resting his chin on the bathtub rim.
"Yeah, yeah. Totally. But, like, you're always so…I don't know, energetic?"
Something about the way he said that rubbed Erin the wrong way.
"Why, is that so bad?" She jabbed. Malcolm blinked a little in surprise.
"N-no, obviously not." He watched Erin nod, like she was saying I-told-you-so. Or reassuring herself.
"Good," she muttered. She glanced up and noticed Malcolm uncomfortably scratching the back of his neck. Probably subconsciously. She had made him feel uncomfortable. "Sorry," Erin whispered at last. "I'm just a little burned out." Malcolm grunted as if he understood, but made a point to study Erin's face. The two of them were not close. He knew Jessica and Erin were good friends, whereas he was a friend of a friend. Erin and him had been in the same English class last semester, but the two of them never had the opportunity to talk. She was always quiet in class, so he assumed she was serious about school and all that. Whenever he passed Erin in the hallway though, she was always animated and enthusiastic. Kind of like those old wind-up toys.
Guess this is when they stop, he mentally noted.
Malcolm couldn't think of anything else to say, so he settled into the quiet for a few moments. He figured Erin would appreciate that too, so he was surprised when she suddenly broke the silence. "So...uh," she began, twisting her fingers again. "Since we're kind of stuck in here, what do you want to do?"
"I can't think of anything besides attempting origami with those towels," he shrugged, tilting his head towards the huge pile in the corner. Erin laughed like Malcolm had made the funniest joke in the world.
"Oh, that's good!" She giggled. "We probably shouldn't mess up the Morris' towels though," she babbled, swinging her arm in a 'darn it' motion. This weirded Malcolm out. Erin had gone from needing a break to being her "characteristic" self that fast? The change felt like whiplash and very artificial.
Maybe if he wasn't as confused as he was now, Malcolm wouldn't have said anything. But he was, so he did.
"Uhh, no offense Erin," he blurted, "but that sounded kind of...well, fake." Oh no, that came out wrong he thought, bracing himself for the backlash. Instead, Erin just slumped her shoulders and tiredly agreed.
"Sorry, sorry," she breathed, rubbing her arms. "I just didn't want to make you feel bad."
"Make me feel bad?" Malcolm joked. "Ending up in a bathtub hardly wounds my pride." Erin shook her head.
"No, no, it's not that," she remarked, shifting her position. "I just..." she paused, and Malcolm waited for her to continue. "People like happy, bubbly people, right?"
Oh, he realized after a moment. She's asking me. He sat straight up and pondered Erin's question.
"Yeah," he answered slowly, "but I think they like genuine people more." Erin sighed.
"I know, I know," she groaned, running a hand through her hair. "But, people like me now. Like this." Erin liked Jessica. She liked a lot of people. And she thought if she put herself aside, acted the way she thought people wanted, they would like her back. Malcolm understood this feeling.
"I, uh, know a lot of guys who have struggled with the same thing," he confessed. Erin met his eyes, urging him to go on. "Well," Malcolm continued, shifting his weight, "they realized there was no point in putting all that work into being seen as 'happy' if they couldn't really be happy. You know?" Erin nodded but continued to tug at her fingers.
"I just don't want to rock the boat and upset anyone. Or be alone either." The two of them heard the end of Bohemian Rhapsody followed by a series of laughs from outside the bathroom door.
"I don't think they're the upset type," Malcolm joked. "But," he emphasized seriously, "if they leave you for being you, they're not worth your time. I think you're a good person, Erin. Good people never end up alone in the end." Erin's mouth tugged upward, but she still looked unsure. Malcolm didn't know what else to say, so he stretched his arms into the air. "Ugh," he groaned. "I highly recommend not sleeping in a bathtub."
"You better remember that next party, then." Erin teased. Malcolm nodded.
"But," he challenged, inspired. "What if it makes other people laugh? Even though it's uncomfortable for me?"
"Still not worth it." Erin retorted. "Do you know the amount of back problems you could be causing yourself now and in the future? You could—" she abruptly stopped. "You just made a metaphor using a bathtub."
"Yup," Malcolm grinned, impressed with himself. "Is it too late to change to an English major?"
"Never too late," Erin reassured as she stood up. "Let me help you out of there." Malcolm nodded.
"Exactly," he concurred as he gripped Erin's hand. "Never too late." Erin smiled gratefully and pulled him upright.
"Thank you," he insisted, stepping out of the tub. He glanced around at the ceiling. "So," he stated, "where would you rather be right now?" Erin laughed.
"Not locked in a bathroom?"
"Oh me too," Malcolm beamed. "But I mean the party. If you weren't here now, where would you be instead?" Erin sighed longingly.
"Honestly? Home. Or on a walk. Maybe the library. Oh, the cafe on Main Street!"
"Well," Malcolm proposed. "You should go then." Erin shifted her weight. She loved the idea, of course. It was just that doing it—how she thought people could react—was an entirely different matter for her.
"We gotta get out of the bathroom first," she indicated. As if on cue, someone pounded on the door.
"Yo, hurry up whoever's in there! Other people need the bathroom too!" Erin and Malcolm glanced at each other in disbelief.
"Door's locked, dude," Malcolm yelled, walking over and tugging at the handle. "We've been waiting in here for someone to let us out!"
"Oh, Jess mentioned something about that door being busted," someone on the other side mentioned, "let me get her." Malcolm shook his head.
"You yelled at that door for five minutes when all you had to do was wait for nature to take its course." Erin smirked.
"So foolish of me, I know." The two of them stood in silence for a few moments. Erin couldn't stop her mind from searching for something to say to fill the silence. Malcolm noticed her concern.
"Hey, it's okay," he reassured her. Erin tensed for a second but then relaxed.
"Yeah," she nodded. "It is okay." The door handle shook a few minutes later and finally pulled open.
"Erin, oh my gosh there you are!" Jessica squealed, running into the bathroom. "I was wondering where you were! I swear, I've been telling my dad to fix this door but he keeps on forgetting. Whatever, let's go do some karaoke, there's this one new song we just got to..." Erin felt the air build up in her throat.
"Actually," she interjected, tugging at her fingers, "I’m a little tired. Is it okay if I call it a night?" Jessica looked surprised, but her expression quickly shifted into one of understanding.
"Sure, no problem. We can always give karaoke a go another time!" Erin laughed.
"Maybe. I'll see you soon, okay?" Jessica concurred, hugged her friend, and ran back into the party. Erin turned and faced Malcolm.
"Night, Malcolm. I'll see you later too, alright?" He grinned and gave a small salute.
"Yes, ma'am." Erin beamed and knocked on the bathroom door frame as she headed to the exit.
"Just try to avoid any bathtubs from now on, alright?"
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Phoenix, Almost had a "Breakfast Club" feel about it (am I aging myself here?). I loved that Malcolm called Erin out for not being herself. It was very intuitive of him. Great story! The setting was humorous and yet so realistic. -A:)
Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I have never seen "The Breakfast Club," but I am officially putting it on my list of movies to watch!
This was hilarious and wholesome, I loved it :) <3 The bathroom at the party vibe was perfect for this prompt
Thank you so much, I'm glad you enjoyed it!