“HOLLY KENNEDY? ARE YOU HERE?” the karaoke host’s voice boomed. The crowd’s applause died down into a loud chatter as everyone looked around in search of Holly. Well, they would be a long time looking, she thought as she lowered the toilet seat and sat down to wait for the excitement to settle so they could move on to their next victim. She closed her eyes, rested her head on her hands and prayed for this moment to pass. She wanted to open her eyes and be safely at home a week from now. She counted to ten, praying for a miracle, and then slowly opened her eyes again.
She was still in the toilet.
Why couldn’t she, at least just this once, suddenly find magical powers? It always happened to the American girls in the films and it just wasn’t fair. . .
Holly had known this would happen; from the moment she opened that envelope and read Gerry’s third letter, she foresaw tears and humiliation. Her nightmare had come true.
Outside, the club sounded very quiet and a sense of calm engulfed her as she realized they were moving on to the next singer. Her shoulders relaxed and she unclenched her fists, her jaw relaxed and air flowed more easily into her lungs. The panic was over, but she decided to wait until the next singer began his song before she made a run for it. She couldn’t even climb out the window because she wasn’t on the ground floor, well, not unless she wanted to plummet to her own death. Another thing her American friend would be able to do.
Outside the cubicle Holly heard the toilet door open and slam. Uh-oh, they were coming to get her. Whoever they were.
It was Sharon.
“Holly, I know you’re in there, so just listen to me, OK?”
Holly sniffed back the tears that were beginning to well.
“OK, I know that this is an absolute nightmare for you and I know you have a major phobia about this kind of thing, but
you need to relax, OK?”
Sharon’s voice was so soothing, Holly’s shoulders once again relaxed.
“Holly, I hate mice, you know that.”
Holly frowned, wondering where this little pep talk was going.
“And my worst nightmare would be to walk out of here to a room full of mice. Now could you imagine me?”
Holly smiled at the thought and remembered the time when Sharon moved in with Gerry and Holly for two weeks after she had caught a mouse in her house. John, of course, was granted conjugal visits.
“Yeah, well I would be right here where you are now and nothing in the whole world would bring me out.”
“What?” the DJ’s voice said into the microphone and then started laughing, “Ladies and gentlemen, it appears that our singer is currently in the toilets.” The entire room erupted in laughter.
“Sharon!” Holly’s voice trembled in fear. She felt as though the angry mob were about to break down the door, strip her of her clothes and carry her over their heads to the stage for her execution. Panic took over for the third time. Sharon rushed her next sentence. “Anyway, Holly, all I’m saying is that you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. Nobody here is forcing you. . .”
“Ladies and gentlemen, let’s let Holly know that she’s up next!” yelled the DJ. “Come on!” Everybody began to stamp their feet and chant her name.
“OK, well, at least nobody who cares about you is forcing you to do this,” stammered Sharon, now under pressure from the approaching mob. “But if you don’t do this, I know you will never be able to forgive yourself. Gerry wanted you to do this for a reason.”
“HOLLY! HOLLY! HOLLY!”