If I had known I’d be stuck in a modern day outhouse overnight, with my daughter, I would have dressed differently. But here we were in the middle of the desert, stuck in a sanitation jail.
My sister Sami, wanted a destination wedding, to get married in Sedona in September. It sounded fun. She wanted my daughter to be her flower girl. And who would say no to that?
She had one request. Have Emily potty-trained by the wedding.
I wanted to explain to her why it wouldn’t be a big deal if Emily was still in diapers. But it was her day, and I didn’t have much else to do. So I agreed.
In retrospect, that might have been my deal with the devil.
As patient as I’d been with Emily, she was making no progress and the wedding was just two months away. So I called in the higher ups.
“Mom,” I tried not to sound too desperate. “I could really use some help with Emily. She’s still having lots of accidents, and Sami’s going to freak if she’s not ready.”
For the next few weeks, my mother was a potty-training drill sergeant. But she was successful. With three weeks to spare, Emily was officially diaper-free.
“Momma, I need go pee pee.”
Emily’s curls looked like a halo in the light. I was grateful Sami had sprung for the high-end portable bathroom. Without the skylight, it’d be pitch black in here.
My finger traced Emily’s ear. She was so patient. She hadn’t whined about anything, while my tears stood sentry at the corners of my eyes, ready to spill on command.
“Okay, kiddo, let’s get your underpants down.” I’d long given up on keeping her dress, or mine, clean.
“Can I have a canny now?” Her feet kicked wildly at the sides of the toilet bench.
“No, sweetheart, remember? Mommy doesn’t have any candy with her.”
The kicking stopped. “Oh. I member.” Emily sighed. “Okay. I done.”
I settled back on top of the toilet lid, and she lay down on the bench, resting her head on my lap.
We’d been getting ready in a tent. This destination was too remote for a bathroom. It had a sink, but no toilet. I thought about letting Emily pee in the sink but I knew if Sami spotted us she’d have a conniption. The rehearsal was still thirty minutes away. I figured I could take Emily and be back with time to spare.
We’d been driving for an hour before I realized I’d left the travel potty at home. I asked Derrick to turn around but he just rolled his eyes at me. “You worry too much, honey,” he patted my lap. “Sami won’t get married without a bathroom.”
When I realized we were stuck I called him. “This is your fault! We’re stuck in a bathroom because you wouldn’t turn around and let me get the travel potty!” It was valuable time wasted. The sound skipped like an old record. “Honey? Help! We’re stuck in the porta--.” Too late. My battery was dead.
Derrick had dropped us off at the rehearsal and left for a conference in Phoenix. No one else seemed to be around. I’d pounded on the door and screamed for a long time. It didn’t do any good and it scared Emily pretty bad.
The sound of the truck backing up startled me from my dozing. I pounded on the door. “Help! Somebody! We’re stuck. I’ve got a little girl in here, help, please!”
Men’s voices rose and fell in mumbles. And laughter?
Metal scraped against the door and it opened. I threw my arms around the man who’d come to our rescue, but he held me at bay.
Remembering where I’d been, heat rushed through my cheeks. “Sorry. I’m just so glad to be out of there. I don’t know what happened. I couldn’t get the door open for the life of me.”
“The lever,” Robert, according to the embroidery on his shirt, was clearly stifling a laugh. “Ma’am, after you flush the latch unlocks. It’s our high-end model. Safety feature. So long as you flush, the door will open.”
Shock dropped my jaw as the truth made its way inside. Emily hates the flushing noise. I was going to let her outside and then flush. If only I had flushed.
If I didn’t laugh then, I would have died crying.
[No authors were harmed during the writing of this purely fictitious piece.]
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