The Privacy Problem



Visit #1

“Mom!”

“What do you want, Mandy?”

“I want a door! There’s no door on the bathroom.”

Mom appears at the end of the hall. “Your brother took the old one down to shave the bottom so it would shut better. But then he sliced off too much, so he’s going to get a new one.”

“I have to go.”

“Don’t worry about it. No one’s here but you and me.”

“Where’s Buddy? Buying a door?”

“No, he went to the grocery for me. He’ll be back soon. I mean—I’m sure it will be at least ten minutes.”

“Where’s Grandpa?”

“He’s playing in the back yard. With Spotty. I can hold him off in the kitchen if he comes in.”

Mom heads for the basement stairway.

“Where are you going?”

“I’ll be right back. I just have to take a load of laundry out of the dryer.”

Eyes roll.

Feet slap across tile.

Shower curtain rings jingle.

Porcelain gongs under one foot, two feet.

Curtain crackles shut.

Tinkle tinkle.

Curtain again.

Thump, thump onto tile.

Tub faucet blasts for full minute.

Mom appears in doorway with basket of towels.

“Feel better?”

“Oh yeah.”


Visit #2

“Mom!”

“What is it, honey?”

“The bathroom door!”

“Isn’t it nice? Buddy bought it from a restaurant that was going out of business. He got a bargain.”

“Mom, it has a window in it.”

“Yes. I’ll make a curtain for it. When I have time.”

“And, Mom, it’s a swinging door.”

“I’m sure Buddy can rig up some kind of lock for it when he has time.”

“Where’s Buddy now?”

“Out in the garage with a few friends, working on the Jeep.”

“Where’s Grandpa?”

“Sitting on the front porch. With a few friends.”

“I have to use the bathroom!”

“Go ahead, dear. You don’t have to ask permission.”

Mom shuffles to the kitchen. After a moment, Mandy does, too.

Drawers sigh open. Slam shut.

“What are you looking for, dear?”

“Got it.”

Feet clump to the bathroom.

Light fixture snaps on.

Duct tape swacks free of roll.

Scissors. Pat pat pat.

Tape. Scissors. Pat pat pat.

Feet smack hallway, back to kitchen.

Drawers skim out, in, out in.

“What now, dear?”

“A black marker.”

Mom finds one.

“And a sheet of paper.”

Mom finds one.

Marker squeaks: OCCUPIED!!!!!!!

More duct tape fastens this to outside of door.

Mandy goes into bathroom, sits, prepares to leap up and stop the door from swinging in.


Visit #3

“I’m so glad you could come for the weekend, Mandy. It’s been so long since your last visit. So much has happened. Buddy got a job finally. And then he won $300 scratching a Lotto ticket. And that sweet boy spent it all on me and this house. He did most of the work himself to save money.”

“That’s great, Mom. You said the bathroom has a good door?”

“Yes, just wait till you see the bathroom. Go look at the bathroom.”

Feet flump up the hallway.

“Hey, a real door, Mom. Does it have a real lock?”

Knock knock.

No one answers.

Plunk of opening door.

Yep. A real lock on the inside.

Same old tile floor.

Same old sink, commode, tub.

Mom calls, coming to admire with her. “You recall how dark that room was. I’ve always wanted more light.”

Mandy looks up at the new light.

It’s a skylight.

Clear glass.

The neighbors are on their balcony, grilling hamburgers.


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