Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Secret Stall

"Come on man. Hurry up." Ken pounded against the sandy colored stall, dancing erratically. He'd been holding it in since the day began, but the school lunch seemed to shoot right through him. Now he was past the bursting point. The point where you begin to sweat from the sheer strain of flexing every muscle in your body in an attempt to hold it back. The point where you're about to pop like a balloon, and your face turns blue with a lack of oxygen.

"Just use the next one over!" a flustered voice called out from behind the door.

"You know I can't," Ken said, glancing at the only other stall in the bathroom. It was known as the "secret stall." Nobody could manage to pull the door open. It had been shut for as long back as Ken could remember. He'd tried to open it once, when he was a Freshman, but it was locked from the other side. Nobody seemed to care enough to crawl under the door and unlock it, and the toilets overflowed often enough that thought to try immediately decided against it.

Still, he really had to go. Telling himself that it was a stupid superstition, Ken reached for the stall door. He pressed against with all the force he could spare, but the door didn't budge. It didn't rattle the way most stalls do when they're locked, it simple didn't move. As though something were pressing against it from the other side.

"Sorry about that." The toilet flushed and the door to the first stall swung open. A tall boy with dark hair stepped out, tugging up the zipper of his jeans. "If they'd just install some damn urinals in this place, we wouldn't have this problem."

"Yeah," Ken nodded as he rushed into the stall, barely remembering to push the door shut behind him. His jeans were hardly around his ankles as he found his center on the ceramic seat, and he was too relieved to care about the rank odor that spilled out of the bowl.

"I mean." The boy's voice carried into the stall as the sound of running water echoed off the tiled walls. "Just because this was an all-girl's school means we have to suffer? Bull shit."

"Yeah," Ken agreed, though he wished the boy would hurry up and leave. Talking wasn't something he'd wanted to do when he came to the bathroom. The boy blabbed on a bit longer as he dried his hands, then his voice disappeared behind the bathroom door.

Calmness swept over Ken as he went about his business. In the silence he couldn't help but notice the graffiti littering the walls. He scoffed at most of the stupidity. Misspelled curses carved into the sandy walls or bled in with sharpie were the most abundant pieces of literature. There was also the occasional angry boyfriend claiming his now-ex was a whore, and the desperate drug dealer scribbling an advertisement near the toilet paper. The most intriguing piece was a chain story about a man jacked up on shrooms tearing through a city like Godzilla. Ken dug around in his pocket for a pen to continue the tale, but just as he pulled off the cap the lights died out, casting him into darkness.

Five or six minutes passed before they flickered back to life. An odd sensation overcame Ken, and he grew eager to finish and leave, the graffiti story now the last thing on his mind. He tried to reason that it was just a loose bulb or wire, but he couldn't shake the feeling that thousands of tiny spiders were rushing up his back.

Then he heard it. A low wail and a moan, followed by a series of sniffles and sobbing, from the stall beside him. Ken sat there for a moment, unsure of what to do. The person had probably thought that the bathroom was empty, and he didn't want to embarrass them, but it didn't seem right to just let them sob. Slowly, so as not to alarm them, he cleaned himself and pulled up his pants.

"Are you alright?" he asked, as he zipped his jeans. The crying stopped, but Ken waited a minute to see if they might answer. When he heard only silence, he flushed the toilet and walked out of the stall.

As he washed his hands he eyed himself in the mirror, wondering if he should shave his stubble or let it grow into a beard. That's when he noticed it. Just beside the reflection of his chin. The door to the "secret" stall slowly creeping open. He spun around. For some reason his heart pounded against his chest and cold sweat drizzled down his face. He could feel his legs crying out to run, but he couldn't understand why/ Not until she drifted out of the stall.

She was a short girl with beautiful black hair, and a pale complexion that made snow look black. Her eyes were heavy and blotched with tears, her gaze fixed on the ground. But her most defining feature was…
"Where are my legs?" She asked as she floated toward him.

"I-I don't know." He tried to take a step back, but he found himself cornered by the sink.

"Where are my legs?" Sorrow filled the air as she drew closer. Then panic as Ken realized her gaze wasn't fixed on the ground. She was staring down, but not at the floor. At his legs.

"Where are my legs?"

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