Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2020

Trapped in the Bathroom Stall

Trapped in the Bathroom Stall

Photograph via Flickr by cammom

Editor’s note: Once a week, Laura Morton will use personal history to put a Craigslist ad into perspective.

The Story

My freshman year of college I lived in a coed dorm. The floors were not coed—if a guy visiting our floor had to use the bathroom, he would run down one flight and use it on the boys’ floor. I heard stories of boyfriends illegally staying in girlfriends’ rooms overnight and using the women’s bathroom, but never actually witnessed it.

Until one evening.

During finals, students were either in their rooms quietly studying, or away, drunk and not studying. On a certain evening during finals week my first semester I was in my room. The floor of my dorm felt empty and lonesome and I felt like I was the only one with any finals left.

At some point, as would be expected, I crossed the hall to use the ladies’ room. There were two stalls on our side of the bathroom, with sinks along the wall, and one had to walk past a narrow hall of showers to arrive at the other identical side, which also consisted of two stalls and a row of sinks.

I walked in and used the right stall. Nothing very interesting, until two people came in.

I didn’t think anything of it, except how nice life would be once I could finally get out of the dorms, until I realized that one of the two people was a young gentleman.

He pushed through the stall door beside me and began to pee.

My door nudged open a bit from it hanging askew and I held it closed as best I could.

While he peed, I heard a girl’s laughter, the shuffling of feet, then someone making her way into the stall with him.

“Jesus, Jen, leave me alone,” the guy said.

“Baby, come on,” Jen whispered to him and slid her body against the wall of the stall.

I stared unflinchingly at my stall door, gray and rusted, with scratches in the paint.

I knew Jen. She was gorgeous with long, straight dark hair and a smoker’s voice, and completely invulnerable to the awkward social problems I faced. She lived two doors down from me and seemed to have a completely different college experience than I was having. I stayed out late occasionally at theater parties but spent most of my time in rehearsals or class, whereas she regularly walked into the dorms on early weekday mornings, clutching Silo cups, and laughingly telling me she didn’t know whether she’d get to class or not.

“No! I’m sick of this shit,” said the guy in the next stall, flushing the toilet and banging open the stall door.

I thought they would leave, but then I heard the faucet.

“Baby, I just think it would be fun to—”

“Look, I don’t want to do this, I don’t want any part of these games you play all the time. I want to—Jesus—stop!”

Silence in the bathroom. “I’m sorry, I thought . . .” her voice quivered.

“I’m leaving.”

I heard his feet squeak out on the tiled floor.

I heard her crying.

I held my breath and the door.

It sounded like she was leaving, her footsteps heading away, but then she turned around and tried to open my stall.

It didn’t nudge because I held it closed.

She tried again.


I quickly flushed the toilet and opened the door.

“Hey.” I walked over to one of the sinks.

She stared at me for a long time. I couldn’t stop smiling, as if pretending like we just happened to be passing in the bathroom, exchanging common pleasantries, and could forget about what just happened.

“Did you hear all that?”

“Um . . . yeah . . . I guess I did.”

She reached in and grabbed some toilet paper and blew her nose.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said, wiping her smeared eye makeup, “he’s an asshole.”

She threw her tissue into the trashcan and walked out.

I turned and looked at myself in the mirror. I was wearing my glasses and a sloppy ponytail with not a stitch of makeup. I looked as colorless as the bathroom tile.

I dried my hands, threw away the paper towel, and headed back to my dark, quiet room to study.

The Ad

CL > evansville > all for sale / wanted > arts & crafts – by owner

the he said-she said – $100

a fight between two people in love…….100.00

The Response

Who doesn’t want an awkward piece of art to remind them of an awkward, horrible moment in a college dorm bathroom?

I know I do.