We hold hands going down the steep, old wooden stairs one at a time; each step a challenge for my little legs. My dad goes into our bathroom and shuts the door behind him. From inside he tells me not to open it and to wait for him.
So I wait. I hear the toilet flush. “Daddy are you there?” I wait. “Daddy?” I wait some more and try to pretend I’m not in the scary basement where I’ve never been on my own before. When my bravery finally vanishes and I am about to try and scale the steps back up to the bright kitchen, I hear a creak and look up to see my smiling Daddy standing magically at the top of the stairs. I gaze at him in wonder. “How did you do that Daddy?”
“I flushed myself down the toilet and it took me outside.”
“Of course. How else could I get back here?”
I get him to do it time and time again to solidify this amazing thing only he can do.
As a young adult I finally asked my Dad how he did the impossible; confessing how I had told countless children about his trick. Laughing, he told me about the wee window high above the cistern that my three year old self never saw and how he squeezed himself through the narrow gap into the garden and came back through the front door.
Thinking about this now, I realize that the memory of his laughter as he explained his Houdini act is as precious to me as the actual performance.