The bathroom is cold, the stalls cramped together.
Heather hears the door bang open just as she finishes, and the walls to the stall shake as the newcomer slams herself into the toilet beside Heather’s. Heather frowns as she exits and moves toward the sink.
Sniffles echo from the stall that the newcomer has taken.
Heather pauses unsure what to do. She soaps her hands and the gushing water feels warm in contrast to the frosty room.
The sniffing from the occupied stall cracks into a strangled sob.
Heather straightens and turns around with a concerned frown. She hesitates near the stall door. “Are you all right?”
The sniffing grows loud and ragged. “I’m fine.”
Heather hears the toilet roll grumble and then the girl puffing her nose. “Are you sure? Can I get you anything? Are you in danger?”
“What do you care?!” the strained voice turns harsh, anger dripping from her words. “You don’t know me. Nobody knows me.”
“If something’s wrong, is there—?”
“Just go away! Go away!” The voice rises in harshness and pitch, but not in volume, rather the girl strangles the word off. Heather hears her suck in a breath. “Everyone likes HER— it isn’t fair.”
Boy troubles, thinks Heather, and she relaxes a bit.
“Everyone like her pictures and posts— Stupid. She’s stupid. I HATE HER!” Again, the girl gives a whispered shout and then sniffles again.
Perhaps not boy trouble, amends Heather to herself. Just jealousy. The petty jealousy of a youthful life set aflame by social media. Heather rubs her chin unsure if she should leave, but confident now that the girl isn’t suffering from domestic abuse… or at least, no abuse that’s been classified as such yet.
“Well—” Heather says— “try not to let it get you too down.”
“Are you braindead, Lady?” the sniffing voice transforms into a growl. “I said FUCK OFF.”
Heather jerks back almost as if struck. Her mouth wags open like a fish and then she frowns at the stall door. Her feet feel like lead, rooted in place, and the heavy antiseptic smell of the room pricks her nostrils like pins. She blinks twice as if trying to wake herself from a bizarre dream and then she scurries out the door, chastened.