“Ready or not, here I come!” Anna’s voice was muffled and distant.
I giggled as I stood behind the shower curtain in the bathroom. I was six years old. Anna and I loved playing hide-and-go seek! Our house had an endless supply of places to hide, and when I couldn’t find Anna, Maria would give me a hint. It didn’t occur to me at the time that she probably gave Anna hints too!
I stood behind the shower curtain for what seemed like years. I could hear Anna out in the hall opening and closing doors, but she still hadn’t come close to the guest bathroom. Finally I sat down on the side of the tub and waited impatiently. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood for hiding after all.
“Addy!” Anna said in a sing song voice. “Addy, where are you?”
I giggled as she turned the door knob and braced myself for being found. Maybe she wouldn’t check behind the curtain. The door knob rattled again and then I heard my little sister walk down the hall.
“I give up!” I heard her say. “Come out, Addy!”
Why hadn’t she come in? I climbed out of the cold porcelain tub and jiggled the door knob myself. It wouldn’t budge. I switched on the light and looked up at the top of the door, which stretched above my head for miles. The latch at the top of the door was locked. Who had locked it? I didn’t lock it! I couldn’t have.
I felt myself begin the panic. What if I was locked in the bathroom forever? What if I was in the bathroom until I was an old lady? What if I never ever got out?
“Addy?” I heard Maria call through the bathroom door. “You okay, senorita?”
“I’m stuck! It’s locked!” I cried banging on the wooden door with all of my might.
“Oh no!” Maria jiggled the knob. “Unlock it, bonita!”
“Found you!” Anna chimed in, not realizing the gravity of the situation at hand.
“I go get your Daddy.” Maria headed down the hall to find Father.
It took them what seemed like years to return to the door that stood between me and freedom.
“Addy?” Father called. “Can you reach the lock?”
“No! It is at the top, Daddy! I’m scared and I have to go pee-pee!”
“Go pee-pee then, honey! You’re in the bathroom. Go pee-pee and I’ll have you out of there in no time!” Father’s voice was reassuring. I scurried over to the toilet and hoisted myself up. Father jiggled the door knob and bumped into the door several times. I heard Mama’s voice in the hall ask what was going on.
“Mama!” I yelled frantically. I wanted out!
“How long has she been in there?” Mama asked. “Honey it is going to be okay!”
“Twenty minutes.” Maria said with sadness in her voice. Twenty minutes? I could have watched a whole episode of Andy Griffith in twenty minutes! I began to cry harder than I had before.
“Hang on baby, Daddy will get you out!”
I listened through tears as they concocted a plan. Father would take the door off of its hinges and free me. Maria hurried off for his tools and Mama assured me calmly that everything would be okay.
After a series of bangs and knocks, Father announced that it wouldn’t work. He couldn’t get the door off of its hinges. “Please get me out!” I cried beating on the door.
“Step back, Addy! I’m going to have to break the door down.” Father said confidently. “Go to the farthest corner of the bathroom!”
“Addy, go to the window. Get away from the door! It is going to be okay!” Mama said, I could hear the worry in her voice.
I ran across the cold tile floor and crouched down against the wall. I covered my head with my hands and hummed a Beatles song to block out the loud noises that were coming from the door. It was louder than anything I had ever heard. It took forever, but eventually Daddy came bursting through the broken door. I was rocking back and forth, humming, and crying.
Father took me in his arms and held me tight. Mama rushed in through the splintered wood and embraced us both. I was finally free. I was still humming “Eleanor Rigby” and didn’t even notice. “Shhh…” Mama consoled. “You’re okay now.”
I opened my eyes and looked around. The door was in a million pieces on the floor. I never played hide-and-go seek again.