Surely there are better ways to die! Pedro thought to herself. This is too embarrassing. How did I ever get myself in this kind of situation?
The back of her neck was throbbing. She tried to raise herself up, but her neck felt like it would snap, so she lay back on the floor. She felt a warm trickle down her neck, definitely blood, but she hoped it was water.
Pedro attempted to raise her legs, but they didn’t even twitch. Her clothes were soaked; she could feel the water on the back of her head, down to her waist.
She tried to remember how she got here. Where is “here” first of all? She blinked her eyes repeatedly, as if to view her thoughts clearly, then looked around at the corner of the room, making out tiles on the two walls she could see. She looked up at the ceiling, moving just her eyes, but the pain was too much. She squeezed them shut. Of course!
It hadn’t taken more than a second to observe all these and figure out she was in the toilet. In that same second she figured out how she got here: through the door.
She tried again to bend her knees, but there was no movement.
Pedro opened her eyes and stared. How do I get out of here? I’m not going to die. Death is too far down the list, just above where the embarrassment should be.
It was as if someone forgot to turn off the tap through which her strength was leaking; everything was getting blurred, and grey, like she was entering a dream.
Her ringtone suddenly pierced the converging mist. It sounded distant at first, then she remembered she had been holding it when she entered the toilet.
Great! That must be Chude.
Pedro had been chatting with him. Hopefully he had realised she wasn’t responding, and was calling to find out why.
She tried to move her arms to reach the phone, gritting her teeth against the agonizing pain, but the phone was too far beyond her feet; all she could do was stare till it stopped ringing.
Call back, call back! Please.
But the phone remained silent near the shallow pool of water.
Somebody is going to come to check on me, she thought, like it happens in movies.
But that thought was swept aside as quickly as it sprung up. It’s Sunday morning. Who’s going to come here?
It’s said that at the point of death your whole life flashes before you, you see everything clearly.
Obviously the people who say this haven’t died before. But they must be right, because Pedro had enough time to think through everything, over and over again.
Each time though, she arrived at the same questions:
What if I had gone to the hospital for the ECG? What if I had agreed to lose some weight? What if I had told Nonso to stay till Monday? What if I had gone to town with her?
What am I even doing here? Why didn’t I go to church?
She had been chatting with Chude since she woke up, having nothing to do that morning. It was Sunday, and though she knew she should go to church, she gave herself the excuse that she had woken up late. She had lingered in bed, rolling from side to side, and stretching her legs around. The first thing she had done was to reach for her phone. Any new messages? Of course; chats from last night, or rather early this morning.
Pedro couldn’t remember how many people she had been gisting with at the time she slept off, but from the messages she saw, they obviously didn’t find it funny that she slept off on them.
She had replied only Chude, just to see if he hadn’t gone to church. Thankfully, he hadn’t, and had responded.
That was how her day had started. They had continued from where they stopped, from one topic to the other. It wasn’t until around 11 o’clock that she realised she had to go to the toilet. She had gone earlier to urinate, a little after she’d woken up; but this time it was number two. So she had gotten up and stretched a bit. She had staggered towards her wardrobe to get a roll of toilet paper, then managed to get to the door, and into the toilet, still holding the phone.
“Lemme stat makin noodlz” she had typed, as she sat on the toilet seat, smiling to herself at the wonders of modern age. If only Chude knew where I was…
She had lingered on the seat a little longer than was necessary, so the undersides of her thighs hurt a bit. She remembered getting up to clean herself, feeling a little disoriented as she reached for the toilet paper she had stuck to the nail behind the door…
That was it, then this water or whatever it was on the back of her head.
Pedro hadn’t used the toilet paper. It was no longer hanging behind the door, so obviously it was on the toilet floor, certainly soaked, unless some little angel had flown in while she was unconscious, and wiped her butt with it. Even if somebody happened to come by, she imagined them taking her to the hospital with her stuff “unwiped”…Embarrassing!
The pain was less now. She raised her head a bit; her shorts were still around her ankles
She slowly propped herself on her elbows. Each wrong move sent searing pain up her neck, so she tried to keep it as stiff as possible.
The cold water on the floor was the least of her worries. She placed both palms flat in the water and pushed herself up. She was now sitting with her legs stretched out in front of her.
She tried again to move her legs, nothing. She tried wriggling her toes, nothing. She tried to reach forward to lift her left knee it up, but her hands stopped at her thighs. Oh Lord! I can’t walk!
Now she could hear her heart drumming in her ears. What is this? she thought, Save me!
She placed her palms flat on the floor again, straightening out her elbows and lifting her torso up, then she pushed sideways. It was a slow, excruciating process, but she was able to move around and back the door. She was now facing the toilet seat, or what was left of it.
It was in two main pieces; one part was still stuck to the base cemented to the floor. A large blood-stained chunk lay near where her head had been. That explained the pain at the back of her neck. She silently thanked God it wasn’t her head that had hit the WC; she wouldn’t have had to worry about an embarrassing rescue, she’d have left an embarrassing corpse.
By this time she had reached her phone, but the water had reached it too. She picked it up and looked at the screen. It was still on, but it had all kinds of unfamiliar characters on the screen. The buttons were not responding either. She turned it round, opened the back and took out the battery. The whole thing was just too wet, so she dropped it on her laps.
Pedro reached for the door handle and turned it, then pulled. It opened and hit her. She silently cursed whoever it was that decided that doors should open inwards. She had to move back, out of the way for the door, going through the harrowing movement again. She managed to get the door open wide enough, then pulled herself out. The floor tiles were limited to the bathroom and toilet floors, but there was a smaller space with a sink and another door separating the toilet from the outside. This meant she had to drag her bare bottom on the hard concrete. But she couldn’t feel a thing there, so she continued, leaving behind her a trail of blood and water, moving backwards towards the door.
She was almost at the door when she heard the voices. Finally. She let out a sigh. She stopped and listened; different voices, many voices. I hope there’s no guy among them.
Two opposite thoughts immediately entered her mind. First she was practically naked, and didn’t want to be seen this way, so her first impulse was to shut up. On the other hand, she really needed help, which she wouldn’t get if she didn’t call out.
She hesitated at first, then called out “Hel…!”, but the word didn’t make it past her throat. She flinched. Her heart was beating so hard she imagined they would hear it through the door.
She braced herself, turning her neck sideways towards the door, and called out again “Heeeeeelp!”
Then there was silence. The footsteps stopped. They were probably trying to figure out where the voice was coming from. She tried again, “Heelp!”
She heard the footsteps, fast, coming closer. It was then she realized her mistake, she tried to move out of the way of the door, but too late, out of the corner of her eye she saw the door swing open, a little too fast, then blackness…