I watched as you walked through the dingy bathroom door, hands balled into fists and shoved in your pockets. You were looking at the ground in front of you, even as you moved into the middle stall and slammed the door shut.
The bang was loud, but there was no one else around to hear the noise. You let out a little sigh — some mixture of exhaustion and relief. You did half your business and pulled the pad out of your pocket. The tilt of your head gave way that you were listening for the door, trying not to get caught making such a rustling racket. Before you could finish, however, the door slammed open again. As soon as it touched the back wall, the footsteps of three of your classmates echoed throughout the small first-floor bathroom.
You listened as the door softly clinked back into place.
The girls began speaking as soon as it did. One giggled, and another opened a purse or a backpack of some sort. You couldn’t see them, just some of their feet and a backpack on the ground. It was dark blue with a ragged patch you could only see the bottom seam of.
“Get the lights, Kat.”
“Wait!” the third girl chimed in suddenly.
“What??” the leader asked, sounding annoyed.
“Check we’re alone.”
You pull the pad closer to your chest as quietly as you can and pull your feet up onto the toilet seat. It’s awkward, but it hides you when a girl looks around at the bottom of the stalls.
“Seems like it,” Kat said and then shuffled away once more.
Her feet moved across the bathroom, and the lights turned off, pitching the entire room into darkness.
You gasped, but their conversation muffled the sound.
Once they all seemed to be back at their starting places, where you could see most of the feet in front of the scratched up mirror, they quieted down.
Until you heard them start chanting.
The chorus sang discordantly.
The light of a cell phone shone above the top of the stalls. It reflected off the mirrors, but just for a moment before you heard a slap and the phone clattered to the ground. The phone had fallen facedown, smothering most of the light it gave off, except for an inch or two where the case was thinner near the screen.
You pulled your hands up to your mouth to stifle a cry when you heard glass breaking and a high-pitched wail.
That was me — but I had no way to tell you not to be afraid. I knew you were there, but respected your attempt to hide, anyway. Your feet never left the porcelain, even when the three other girls began to scream.
You watched as their feet scrambled around the ancient tile floor. One of them went towards the door, and another went towards the handicap stall, but neither of them made it very far.
Within a few moments, they stopped screaming.
The lights turned back on — and you watched them fall to the ground.
Kat Myers, Sarah Collins, and Mary Anne Smith. You had never come into this or any bathroom with three popular girls.
You shuddered, taking deep breaths for a very long moment.
Then your feet lowered back down to the ground, and your breathing returned closer to normal. Your eyebrows fell back to their natural placement, and the sound of plastic filled the space.
When the trash was in the little tin can, you cleaned up and left the stall. Lucky for you, the doors opened inward, and you had a clear path to the door.
I expected you to hesitate, but you didn’t even stop to wash your hands after the ordeal. You simply walked through the door.
I’ve had a hundred different girls chant my name to this room — and I’ve caught just as many unaware behind those stalls. But you…
You are the only one that I’ve admired so damn much. I can’t wait to see what you become.
Alyson lives in Maryland where she got married, had her daughter, and began her writing journey. She has appeared in (mac)ro(mic), Wrongdoing Magazine,Twin Pies Lit,Pyre Magazine,and HAD — among others. You can find her on Amazon, and Twitter @rudexvirus1. Her website is AlysonTait.com. Alyson also helps run Inkfort Press.