Panic Room

We were in the theatre bathroom. It was a school night, and like everyone else we wore coats, and like all the girls we wore lipstick. She said I have to tell you something while I was in the cubicle. I said Go for it and flushed. When I walked out she was standing in between two sinks with her hand in her bag.

I washed up in the sink beside her and asked her What’s up? She shook her head. Her hand was still in her bag. I laughed at her, because that was what we did – we laughed at each other. The sides of my red lipstick were smudged, so I leaned in to fix it, fogging up the mirror.


When I turned to her, still cleaning the red off my front teeth, she was holding a white plastic stick in her hand.

She said It’s the second one. I was still standing with my index finger covering my tooth. I didn’t take it out of my mouth until she added They’re both negative.

I asked her What’s the problem then?

Nothing…I just…Do you think they’re right?

The sink was dripping. I kept looking over to the door, afraid someone would walk in. There was graffiti in the left corner, but I couldn’t make out what it said. I wanted her to put the stick back in her bag. She asked me again, Do you think they’re right?

How much did you pay for them?

Like, 20 bucks.

Each?

She nodded.

They should be.

Should?

Something crackled over the speaker above the mirrors. Interval was over, and she was still looking at me with the stick in her hand. I sighed at her – that was another thing we did. We communicated like emotionally stunted men. There was a laboured creak as the door swung open – a woman in her 40s with burgundy lips. Her eyes flickered to the stick lazily, before she clunked across the tiled floor and pushed her way into the cubicle furthest away. We watched her until the door clicked shut.

I took the stick from her and threw it into the bin. I had to push her through the door myself. Once we hit the carpeted floor she started laughing, her hand covering her mouth and nose so all I could see was the panic in her eyes.

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