Under 18 Native English Speaker – Winner 2016

“Musings on the White Throne”

by Liam Wright

“How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world!”cried Hamlet in his first monologue of the first act. “For God’s sake get over it you whinging loon, the bloke was getting old anyway, it was bound to happen.” I muttered to myself from the audience. It bothered me that he was such a soppy moron at the beginning of the play but that he was capable of turning into this angry force of unstoppable vengeance later on. People don’t transform like that so quickly. I also didn’t like the fact that he was such a baby about his dad’s death. Of course he would be upset, but sad enough to cry a whole new North Sea? “Ah well,” I whispered “the rest of the play should be fine.”

Almost two hours later, in another, much more enclosed room, I realised my struggling was futile, leaned back and started to wind down. I started playing games on my phone but quickly stopped after repeatedly losing. “This is going to be the most boring hour of my life…” I sighed. It occurred to me that the worst part of this ordeal was its lack of severity and its humour. “I’m just going to laugh about this in a few hours.” I muttered. I was completely incapable of laughing then, which infuriated me. I sat up and tried the lock again, aggression radiating from my arms as I desperately tried to twist it. No luck.

My mind started to drift and the cohesiveness and quality of my thoughts started to become comparable to the water I was sat over. I heard Hamlet shouting passionately at someone and it suddenly occurred to me that we were actually quite similar to one another in our predicaments, which initially upset me, but upon further reflection I conceded to myself that the problem I faced made me just as pathetic as him. We both felt this strange and distressful disconnection from the world around us. Whilst it was for very different reasons, we both saw or felt this new perspective on things we just used to take for granted or accept.

After his father’s death, Hamlet was exposed to what death meant to people who have lost someone close to them; he saw more to death than just a thing that nobody can avoid, he discovered the aspect of sad and miserable loss. In the same way, I now saw to my scenario more than just a thing that happens to other people, I saw its significance and the feelings it provoked in the people affected.

Twenty minutes earlier in the evening I’d reached for the handle with my right hand and the lock with my left. My right hand twisted downwards a little but my left could not budge. “Damn it come on!” I thought to myself as I frantically tried to unlock the door, my breathing accelerating slightly. The play would begin again in about a minute and I didn’t want to run nervously to my seat in the very first introductory minutes of the second act. “Why will this not MOVE?!” I hissed. The lock refused to budge, even after my attempts at the tried and tested push-on-the-door-and-turn-the-lock-at-the-same-time technique.

At this point everybody was sat down and the music to the opening scene had begun. I started swearing rapidly under my breath and rattling the door. “Crap! Damn it, damn it, damn it come OOONN!” I said. The door, similarly to a disobedient puppy, refused to give in to my commands, partly because it was rusted shut but also because it was a door.

I had been manically shaking and beating on the door for ten solid minutes before giving up, pulling down the lid and sitting down. I furiously muttered to myself “Of bloody COURSE it had to be me! I could bet on my life that the twenty previous people to use this stupid cubicle thought to themselves ‘Hmm…That lock looks like it’s in poor condition, I’d better leave before I get stuck inside.’ GOD DAMN IT!” Sighing with exasperation, I pulled out my phone to try to text my father, who was sitting in the audience, amazed by Hamlet’s over-the-top twaddle, just like everyone else. “I’m trapped in the toilet.” the first text read. I followed it up simply with “Help.”

I pictured myself being saved by my ever-loving father, bright light shining from behind him as the door to freedom opened. After thinking up this terrible version of Rapunzel, I checked my phone for any replies and immediately saw a notification saying that I could not send the message at that time and that it would go through as soon as services were available. “Jesus Christ…” I sighed as I read the message. This pretty much sealed my fate to spend the next forty-five minutes trapped in a toilet cubicle.

After my initial thoughts on Hamlet, I noted my resemblance to him in how we both saw people differently. He saw his family and friends under a new light, he saw how little they cared for his well-being, in the same way that I could see how little the owners of the theatre cared for the condition of their toilet cubicles.

We were also both caught unaware by inevitable doom and that is what invoked fury into us. We both felt initial despair and distress, but when we got our bearings right, we knew how to strike, who to get pulverising revenge on. I felt genuine compassion towards this fictional character of grief and rage but also wit.

I spent the next twenty-five minutes listing common points between Hamlet and myself before a thought struck me. “This might not be bad literary material!” I then immediately realised just how absurd the idea of writing a story about some obnoxious teenager stuck in a toilet was, and sank deeper into my tired and mad thoughts.

One idea kept coming back to me, that of enraged revenge. The more that same thought bobbed down and back up to the surface of my brain, the more I started to feel that rage. My heart was beating faster and faster as it kept coming back. I looked up at the door as my mind fell silent. Revenge. I yelled a berserker’s scream and kicked at the door with all the strength left within me. The lock shot off and hit me in the arm as the door was blasted off its hinges.

Within the next thirty seconds, the janitor had rushed into the toilet having heard the sudden explosion of noise. “What the hell just happened?” he exclaimed. “I’m out!”I answered, breathing heavily and rubbing at the bruise caused by the speeding lock, “It was hell in there, but I’m out.” My father wandered into the room and enthusiastically said “So did you like the second half?”, completely unaware that I had been stuck in a self-locked cell.

As we started walking back home musings of triumph and glory raced across my mind. Sadly, I had forgotten my dear companion’s fate, his tragic death by the other edge of revenge’s sword.