For the month of February, each writer’s post will begin with the same line, which we’ve borrowed from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five.
All this happened, more or less.
Scene: A small, one room apartment. Perfect for one person living a quietly lovely Parisian life. That one person kind enough to let three poor college students from her alma mater crash on her floor for a few days while they see the sights. This room is the kind of small that doesn’t allow for a couch of any kind. There is a lofted bed under which we, the aforementioned college kids, make our bed. There is a shower. There is a stove. There is a space heater. There is a large-pizza-sized table. There is a window overlooking a courtyard down below. There is a door. On the other side of the door, there is a hallway and a bathroom. But in this particular room, there is no bathroom.
0700 hours, Luxembourg Gardens, Paris, France: March 2013.
Wake up to our first Parisian morning. Today’s docket includes Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe, but our first mission is the Eiffel Tower, which opens at 0930 hours. We will be early and we will take the stairs, maximizing both our time and financial resources. But first breakfast and necessary morning preparations.
Will not be arriving at Eiffel Tower early. Companion has discovered a door malfunction interfering with our plans. In short: it will not open. It is locked. From the outside. Apartment owner has accidentally locked us in. We do not the spare key because it was put in the hallway for the plumber who is supposed to come this morning.
Wonder how early French plumbers start their work day.
Bobby pin located by companion, lock picking commenced. She picks. I pick. The lock is deemed unpickable.
Internet connection is non-existent. The password we were given does not work. Attempt contact with host via text message, hoping our British cell phones are willing to communicate with French ones.
Destruction of morning agenda equates to ample time for showers. Silver lining located.
Destruction of morning agenda equates to ample time for napping. Silver lining increases.
Continue lying in bed until sound of footsteps rouses hope of plumber.
It wasn’t the plumber.
Contemplate eating breakfast but worry about digesting fiber given current lack of bathroom facilities. Companions eat a granola bar. Seems like a risky choice to me. I go for the apple instead.
Try to tentatively re-plan day. Struggle given lack of knowledge concerning at what time day will actually commence.
Quadruple check that there is absolutely no way to open door. There is not.
Agree that host must be busy and will check phone during lunch.
Open curtains to indirectly experience beautiful day outside. Also to flag down any person passing in the courtyard below. Practice our best “M’aider!” but realize we do not know enough French to tell anyone passing to go open the door in the corner, climb the stairs, find key in the white electrical box in the hallway, and use it to unlock the door at the far end of the hallway to let us out. Decide to cross that bridge when we come to it.
Commence card playing.
Discuss bladder alleviation strategy. Designate shower as best option.
Wonder how beautiful the Eiffel Tower looks in the morning sunlight.
Contemplate whether host said that plumber was coming this morning or just sometime today.
Curse the plumber.
Recall that several other classmates are currently in Paris and may be able to help. Send out a friendly “Are you near Luxembourg Gardens?” to see if anyone is nearby.
No response to text. Send out slightly more desperate “M’aider! We need help!”
Receive worried phone call from classmate. Previous message made classmate believe we were hurt or in danger. Neither is true. Classmate returns to regularly scheduled tour.
Consider tying sheets and towels together and scaling the building. Drop of questionable distance necessary. Decide to reserve as last resort.
Make up new card game to stave off lethargy. Such pathetic attempt only multiplies depression.
Wonder aloud if others can recall when hopes were high and life worth living. Companions respond with great concern for my mental and emotional state. Decide to stop using Les Miserables as template for all forms of suffering in Paris.
Receive promising message from another classmate. Current location: Notre Dame. Approximately twenty minute walk from captivity address.
Classmate arrives at captivity address. Celebration commences.
Captivity fini. Embark for Notre Dame.
Use bathroom first.
Catherine Kramer (’14) has a degree in English and works in publishing. Her continued existence is made possible by grace, warm hugs, and iced chai lattes.