Translation of Dutch shortstories by Yara Dhont.


2. Best friends

“Manners, one way I’ll teach you manners!” Miss Verwalle yelled.
Behind her back everyone burst out laughing again. It was just funny how a teacher obviously couldn’t control a class.
I laughed along, I followed the others.
You only live once and I’m not going to let that be ruined by school. Having fun, my friends did it too.
“Just wait, mob of troublemakers,” Miss Verwalle mumbled pissed.
The bell rang. Quickly some more paper balls were fired and paper planes lanced.
I grabbed my backpack and coat and hastily leaved the class room, my bladder was about to explode!
“Don’t throw those damn paper planes!”
I don’t get the thing about those paper planes. Never ever I’ve seen someone getting one in the eye. Same thing with banana peels. Have you ever seen someone slip over it? No, but that doesn’t mean you can let them lying around; you can’t with any litter.
But still we do it all the time, me too, because when that damn paper falls on the ground I don’t want to bow over to pick it up.
As a rocket I flew in to the small toilet room, closed the door lock, put the seat up, drew my pants down and finally did what I had to do. Having a piss.
“Katinkaaaa?” someone shouted at me, it was Karen.
Weird conversation; something you could only manage with your best friend.
After a while in the almost deserted ladies room she continued: “Are you ready yet?”
“Yeah, I aaam!” I lied, because I had to poop and that would take a while.
I did the job as fast as possible, because the toilets smelled like hell. It was a kind of musty stench. Everybody always said it was the last toilet shrouded in the dark because of a broken lamp. That didn’t make the space very popular. De locked door of the so-called defect toilet made everyone shiver. Many rumors swirled. There would have been a dead body flushed away or a girl would have committed suicide and had been lying there a month before anyone noticed she was dead.
I flushed the toilet and saw Karen lighting a cigarette when I leaved the ugly blue-painted cabin.
“You want one too?”
I quickly washed my hands in the mouldy sink and walked back to her. She gave me a cigarette and lit it up with her lighter.
We smoked here often and we weren’t the only ones. Teachers never came to this place and the smell of the last toilet covered the smell of our cigarettes. Also called obtaining an advantage from a disadvantage.
“Hey,” Karen asked, “have you ever tried weed?”
“Nope, you?”
“Yeah, at that sick party last week. You feel so high, really cool.”
“That’s not fair, I was grounded,” I sighed unnecessarily. Why did no one ever feel sorry for me?
I blew the smoke out through my nose, it pricked a little. At the same time I felt anger flare up. If Joachim hadn’t cheated on me I wouldn’t have played hooky.
“Yeah, sad story for you.”
“Pff, that’s what calls itself a best friend.”
“I had warned you for that bastard, Katinka.”
She leaned against the wall and took another puff.
“The worst thing of all is that he now acts like nothing ever happened! He’s just wooing at every girl who walks by!”
“That’s how Joachim is,” Karen tried to slush me. We couldn’t make too much noise.
“If I had known.”
I felt tears well up in my eyes, but bravely stopped them. I couldn’t erase the picture from my head.
I wanted to surprise him; I had even put on matching underwear! He once had told me he was home alone that Saturday, but apparently he had forgotten he had told me that.
So I rang the doorbell, but no one answered. I knew where the spare keys were, he also once blabbed that out. Underneath the doormat I found the key.
I opened the door; loud music was playing through the whole house. I called for him, but he didn’t answer. So I walked upstairs to his bedroom where the music was coming from and I found him on top of that slut, Clare of Science Class. I had been so furious; I threw everything I could find. By the time I was done raging they had put on their clothes and Joachim came with that stupid excuse of him: “We had to work on an assignment together, babe, it’s not what you think.”
“O, is it?” I had replied, “Let me guess? Biology, the human sex!!!”
Crying I had ran away. The bastard and the slut.
“What’s becoming of this world?” I sighed.
Karen made an approvingly sound. We stood there for a while in silence. The bel rang but we didn’t move. First we wanted to smoke our cigarettes, such a waste to be thrown away.
“Ready?” Karen asked when she put out the butt under her shoe. I wasn’t yet finished completely, but put out my cigarette anyway.
We walked towards the door, which we had locked to smoke. No one had even noticed it.
I pushed the handle down and wanted to open the door, but the force I had didn’t move it.
Karen laughed at me and accused me of being a stupid chicken because I hadn’t unlocked the closing.
“But, I did,” I said.
“Come on, out of the way,” she laughed, “let me do it.”
She pushed the handle down, I saw her push, but nothing happened.
“Oh shit, stupid door.”
She pushed with all her weight, but nothing happened. And when she tried to pull out of desperation she suddenly had the handle in her hands.
With open mouths we looked at each other in surprise. Panic rose. I tried again to open the door by slamming against it, like in police series. It was nu use, we were locked in.
So we started to scream for help.
“Heeeeeeeelp!!! Someone!!! We’re trapped!”!”
“Get us out, heeeeeelp!!”
We hung on for five minutes, but no one who could hear us. Everybody was in class, the lessons had started.
My battery was dead, Karen didn’t have service. The handyman or secretary never came here; the toilet was a separated building from the school on the playground. We were trapped like rats.
“Goddamn,” Karen cursed and she lit another cigarette. I didn’t want one, but was grateful for the smell to distract me from the rotten stank from the last toilet. That could impossibly come from a clogged toilet?
Now we were locked like this I started to think about it. I tried not to show my fear. I wasn’t a coward, on the contrary.
“Hey, Karen,” I asked, “You know a lot of gossip and so one, do you know more stories about that toilet?”
“The ladies restroom in the block? Yes.”
We were sitting against the door, the handle beside us on the floor. We stared at the dark at the end of the room.
“Tell me some.”
“About the girl who killed herself? Or the killer handyman who flushed a body there?”
“No, those I already know,” I interrupted her. She blew out the smoke in my face, I didn’t mind. It had something pleasant compared to the stale stench that lived here.
“Uhm, there was a boy once who claimed that this building was built on someone’s grave, someone who got killed by a serial killer. He even claimed that there were multiple bodies between the pipes in the ground.”
“How incredible a story.”
“Yeah, say that.”
“And the serial killer was the handyman who suggested this building?”
“So cliché.”
Karen offered me a draw, I took one. Now the break was over it was even more silence than anytime else. It was creepy.
“Twenty years ago,” Karen started telling, “there was a boy, and he was a real ego-tripper. His friends dared him to enter the girl’s restroom, so that’s what he did.”
“Apparently he got so scared he didn’t dare to come out of the cabin for the rest of his life, he died here.”
“That’s a pathetic ending,” I remarked.
“I’ve got another one,” she continued, “about a girl who got bullied. The bullies chased her here at the end of the room against the wall and beat her up. But they were too enthusiastic and killed her. Out of fear to be blamed they put her head down in the pot and they locked the door with a coin, you know how it works.”
“Okay, that story I find creepy.”
“Me too.”
“Would there exist a story in which an ex-girlfriend kills her boyfriend in that toilet everyone’s afraid of?”
“Are you still plotting murder on Joachim? Oh girl…”
“I’m sorry,” I apologized, “I can’t help it.”
Her second cigarette of today was out. I thought so, because maybe she smoked for breakfast, who knows.
After she had put it out she stood up and wiped the dirt from her jeans.
“What you gonna do?”
“Have a look at that toilet and find out the truth.”
“You’re kidding?”
My heart started to beat faster. I stood up quickly and walked behind my best friend. The closer we came to the darkness the slower we walked. Karen took her phone and used the screen as flashlight to see in the dark. It wasn’t much, just two cabins hiding in dark with nothing suspicious on walls or floor.
But the smell became worse, we had to squint our noses or we would pass out.
“Oh, ew,” I chugged in discus.
The silence surrounded us; the half-darkness put a scary glow on our faces. We stood right in front of the cabin.
“Come on, Katinka, don’t be so hunted by those stories.”
We could see the door was locked. There hung a paper with the words ‘defect toilet’ in a clumsy handwriting.
I looked for my purse in my handbag; from with I took a coin. My hands were shaking. I almost had to retch of the air. It’s origin was now obviously from behind this door. I placed the coin in the lock and opened it.
“Ready?” Karen asked boldly. She swung the door open, the smell hit our faces. Our eyes got used to the dark and with the light from Karen’s cellphone we could see the secret of the last cabin.
I stiffened; a shock through my body. I screamed and filled my lungs with the stale smell of the rotting body.

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