an occupied bathroom and ill-timed bodily functions
Welcome, weary travelers, to The Inn Between, a scripted audio drama. Join Gabriela Jones, a recent botany undergrad who takes a job as Innkeeper near the rural town of Shearwater. The trees are green, the rooms are cozy, and the guests are just a little bit strange.
GUESTBOOK SEGMENT: Special thanks to Colin and his poem, “Subtopia.” Colin James has a couple of chapbooks of poetry published: Dreams Of The Really Annoying from Writing Knights Press and A Thoroughness Not Deprived of Absurdity from Piski's Porch Press along with a book of poems, Resisting Probability, from Sagging Meniscus Press. Formerly from the UK, he now lives in Massachusetts.
LAND ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This podcast is inspired by and recorded on the Indigenous lands of the Coast Salish people of the Pacific Northwest. We celebrate and honor these ancestral lands and their stewards--past, present, and future.
THEME MUSIC: Yonder Dale / Tiny Surprises / courtesy of www.epidemicsound.com
Welcome, weary travelers, my name is Gabriela Jones, the new innkeeper of The Inn Between, where the trees are green, the rooms are cozy, and the guests are only a little bit strange. Whether you’re listening for the first time or have been here before, come on in and prop up your feet-metaphorically speaking of course—and pour yourself a cup of coffee.
Well. It’s been quite a day, dear listeners. I already know some of you listening will think what I’m about to tell you is TMI. But I am a woman and a scientist, and as a botany student who knows a little too much about the birds and the bees and how the squirting cucumber sexually reproduces, I am no longer phased by something as quaint and normal as human bodily functions, which I believe we should always discuss unabashedly. All of this to say, I woke up on my period this morning, and if you know, you know.
And if you don’t know, my stomach hurt, my head hurt, my back hurt, everything just kind of hurt, not to mention the bleeding. As I rose from my bed and put on my robe, I went down the hall to take care of business and was surprised to see that the bathroom was in use. Not knowing what else to do, I got dressed and decided to start my day downstairs.
A self-check-in guest had arrived overnight. In their breakfast requests, they specifically asked for spice in their food. I finished up the paperwork then went back upstairs to check the bathroom availability. To my dismay, it was still in use.
A young man on a writing retreat was ready to check out. He had come by a few days earlier and when I asked which room he wanted to stay in, he said he was partial to mermaids which made me laugh. So I went back downstairs to get him all checked out. He must have sensed I was antsy because he asked me if everything was alright. I told him that I simply needed to use the restroom. I guess it must have inspired him because he pasted the following into the Guestbook:
By Colin James
Some prophet left
the toilette seat up again.
assuring a way out
of the underworld.
His mother unamused.
The room needs wallpapering
and that nice Mr. Ulysses
is off on the morning tide.
Change the strings on your Lyre
and your underwear.
The sirens are desperate
this late in the year.”
I admit that I laughed a little given my situation. And knowing that I too would soon need a fresh pair of underwear, I promptly went upstairs once the young writer had departed to check again if the bathroom was available. The door still said occupied.
I’m not proud to admit this, but I put my ear to the door to try to figure out what on earth was going on in there. But I mean, what would you have done in my position? I heard shuffling and the slightest groan, so I for sure knew someone was still in there. I gave a gentle rap on the door. I barely heard whoever was inside, as their voice was faint and small, but I could make out enough words to understand that they’d be right out.
So I went out to feed the goats then back to the kitchen where I laid out some hot red pepper flakes. I was in the middle of cracking some eggs and whipping them up in a bowl when a stab of pain went through my abdomen and I knew I couldn’t wait much longer to take care of things. So I marched back upstairs.
The bathroom was still unavailable.
I knocked on the door, asking if they were okay in there.
“Fine, just fine,” they said back, again barely loud enough for me to hear.
Now you might think at this point I was a bit frustrated, and that would be fair. But then what happened next happened, and I wasn’t really sure how to feel after that.
The voice in the bathroom called out, telling me to watch my step, and the next thing I knew lava was spilling out from under the doorway. This is not a metaphor or hyperbole. Bubbling, red, molten lava was coming toward me, and I jumped to the other side of the hall to avoid my sneakers getting burned. It oozed, hissing up into little orange flames now and then, and I expected the whole floor to melt or burst into flame. then. With a shriek, I yelled for the guest not to worry, which was not the smartest thing to say as I’ve had little experience with lava and had no clue what to do in this predicament.
I did the only thing I could think of which was to run downstairs and grab the fire extinguisher from the kitchen. How effective is a fire extinguisher against a river of lava? I have no idea.
By the time I had gotten back upstairs though, the lava had already turned into a trail of cooled rock. There were though bits of hot red ash glowing on the bottom of the bathroom doorway, like an old campfire log barely emitting any heat, which I blasted with the fire extinguisher. I then followed the river of black rock that stretched the length of the hall and ended at The Lion Room.
I cautiously knocked on the door.
“Sorry about the mess,” came the voice. “Just some tummy troubles.”
“Can I get you anything?” I asked.
“I’d just like my breakfast now please,” came the small voice. “Just leave it outside the door.”
There was nothing to be done in the mess in the hall and unsure of what else to do, I finished making the eggs, but decided it was best if I left out the red hot pepper flakes or any other spice. Just in case.
I went about the rest of my day as best I could and decided I needed to cool off by working outside. When I returned from the barn, a new trail of molten rock came down the back steps and disappeared into the forest. Inside by the front desk area, the leatherbound guest book was open with a round but roughly textured piece of black lava rock sitting on top. My ailed guest had written a short note in splotchy handwriting before their departure that read:
“I look forward to coming back someday after getting settled in Mt. Saint Helens. Hopefully, I’ll have gotten things a little more under control. Thanks again, and my apologies.”
I really wasn’t sure what to do about the trail of rock left all over the place. Before dinner, I decided to give Nancy a call over at the General Store and see if she would be willing to make an emergency delivery of a package of extra feminine hygiene products and explained the situation to her for good measure. She told me not to worry about it, that this thing happens every 20 to 30 years or so, and that she would have the boys down at the hardware store clean up the molten rock in no time, so I’m leaving it in her capable hands.
Now if you’ll excuse me, my legs are sore, and I need a heat pad and some ibuprofen.
Till next time listeners,
Be kind, take care of yourselves, and don’t forget to water your plants,
Hey, it’s Bailey Loveless, writer and reader of Gabriela & The Inn Between. Thanks for tuning in to this week’s episode. If you enjoyed the show, please consider supporting via Ko-Fi, link in the show notes below. It costs less than your favorite latte, and your contribution keeps the show self-sustaining and advertisement free.
Special Thanks to Colin, this episode’s Guestbook contributor. Colin James has a couple of chapbooks of poetry published: Dreams Of The Really Annoying from Writing Knights Press and A Thoroughness Not Deprived of Absurdity from Piski's Porch Press and a book of poems, Resisting Probability, from Sagging Meniscus Press. Formerly from the UK, he now lives in Massachusetts. Thanks again Colin for letting me read your work!
To submit short prose or poetry to be featured in the Guestbook segment, please send us an email or visit our website for more information, link also in the show notes. New episodes of Gabriela and the Inn Between release twice a month during the quarter moon phase. I look forward to seeing you on the next episode. In between time, keep warm and keep well See you next time, folks.