-casually written by Cori Crooks

Our Missy needed no permission. They had told her once to be sure and call down when she would be leaving her designated register, but it was an unspoken rule in her ideology to defy any unnecessary spoken rule. Besides that, what should she have to tell anyone when she was going to the bathroom?

Our Missy worked for a little above minimum wage. Our Missy worked above, below, and around, period. She hated work. She wanted to be somewhere else. She couldn't see spending eight hours a day, every day of her life trapped inside a building with windows. They weren't the kind of windows built into walls. They weren't the kind of windows that she could see out of... to see the world that she was missing while she waited to assist someone. They were just windows. Waiting windows. Stacked in piles on the floor, and in rows up against the wall, neatly, according to their price. Large, small, round, rectangle, square, thick, thin, stained, tinted, clear, plastic, and glass windows. Sometimes she could see willow trees blowing in the warm Georgia wind when she looked at them. But she wasn't in Georgia and there wasn't any ice tea.

She hadn't wanted to see anyone. She hadn't wanted to talk to anyone. But she went to work anyway, hoping that it all would pass, like her moods do. When she was new at her job, she found it necessary not to form any close bonds with her fellow employees, just in case one of those episodes of 'anti social ness' were to occur. Doing this made her only required to say hello, and that was good. She looked at her shoes a lot. She only smiled when she had to, and she could deal with just that much. No one got in her personal space, and no one stood too closely to her. Cool. No biggie.

Once the lady with the different shoes everyday tried to befriend her. She would talk of unnecessities, and other things along that order which were important to a woman who owned close to fifty pair of shoes. (No exaggeration) The day the lady wore a pair of mock suede lace up knee boots was the day she asked our Missy out to what she explained would be a fabulous lunch at the sweetest Cafe in the Mall. Missy simply replied, "I'm going to the bank." Which wasn't a lie. She did have to go. Missy had that special luck. it's as if it was always meant for her to be busy. Their was harmony to her excuses. They were natural. A melodic chord of another plan previously made. Ching. Sorta. ...A musical clash coinciding with an invitation, or a long worthless chat. More like it.

The day the lady wore patent leather pumps with silver plated toe guards was the day they hired a new girl over in the stained glass department. They got along swell, and started eating their lunches together. At the sweetest Cafe in the Mall. As for our Missy, she continued to stuff her bank deposit slips in the glove compartment of her Dodge Dart.

And after that, our Missy would come and do her eight hours of work in the pain department and not worry of someone trying to make a special friend out of her. "Were all eventually going to quit anyways," she thought to her shoes.

Our Missy walked toward the bathroom in hopes that it would be free. She could see her reflection in the mirrors - two for one. She remembered hearing a story about a Vietnamese girl named Thanh. Someone had gossiped about her over in the storm window department. The person in particular was this mousey type of girl. Her skin was mousey tan, her hair was mousey brown, and her eyes were mousey gray. Even when she smiled her nose would wrinkle up a little. This girl even knew she looked like a mouse. She took pride in that. She kept a stuffed mouse animal on her desk, always ate cheese, and occasionally wore pastel sweatshirts with smiling mice on them. Her name tag said: Minnie.

Minnie told the story of Thanh in great detail and high voice inflection. She said in her country mouse accent, "Last week I had the oddest little thing happen to me.... Believe you me- I mind my own business, but this was something too strange not to notice. I wouldn't be fibbin' and such, but ooo-ooo this was a weird one! You know Suzie, that little Vietnameezee girl? She is just the oddest little thing! It was after I had my provolone sandwich- I was feeling a bit of indigestion and I thought I'd better take my vitamins. So I was there in the little ladies room, filling up my weekly pill organizer, that I got at Payless department store over on 5th Avenue, when Suzie walked in.... She tippy-toed over to the third stall... you know, the one with all the graffiti in it? Well anyway... she shut the door real quick like. So I just went on about my own business putting my iron tablets in the Monday through Sunday boxes, then my vitamin C ....and just as I was doing my calcium, not that I need it, you know all the cheese I eat, well anyway, I realized that she had been in that stall for over five minuets without making a squeak of a sound! I thought she had to be sick or something! You know how fragile those kind of people are. I just couldn't help but wonder what she could be doing in that stall all alone by here little self! So I peeked down underneath, and her feet looked in the proper place. Lordy, I had expected to see her sprawled out on the floor. So I continued on with sorting my pills and didn't hear as much as a tinkle. "What was that girl doing," I said to myself! Now I'm not a nosy parker and I don't appreciate anyone of that sort but I assumed that she must be doing drugs and I don't want to work with some dirty Oriental drug user. So I thought I might peek through the little crack in the bathroom door... and when I did there she was... just sitting there looking like a frightened little thing with her pants down. I've heard those stories, you know, the ones about orientals being afraid to have someone hear the sound of them going to the bathroom. Supposed to be unlucky or something. Either that or she was constipated- and I'd be more than willing to sit down with her and regimen a vitamin plan suited specifically to her needs, if she'd just ask. But she looked so scared, so I had to see. So I opened the big bathroom door and sure enough when that thing slammed and she thought I was gone.... I heard tinkling coming from that third stall! As fast as rain. Those people sure are superstitious! So little and sneaky, they can't speak the language, let alone use the public facilities properly."

Our Missy wondered. Skeptically. Could it be true? Nah. If it was, she was sure and glad it wasn't her this time. One thing our Missy hated was for someone to hear her going to the bathroom. Actually, there had been several times Missy had left the bathroom without going for that one particular reason. She didn't even like the word Pee-Pee either. "Tisk, what does that rat lady know about anyone anyway," our Missy thought.

Today, her bladder was full. The store was pretty slow so she figured she could have the 2nd floor powder room to herself. Hopefully. She opened the door holding her breath.... "I'm alone," she thought. She hurried to the third stall, unbuttoning her pants before she wet them. Quickly. Open door, closed door, lock door, arrange paper cover... Sitting down, the fluids expelled. Ahhh. Her head spinned less and less and just before the mid stream symphony, she strained... her muscles... to the sound of an opening door. "No," she demanded. "Please go away." "Please don't hear meeeeah....shit." She tried to stop pee-peeing, but of course she couldn't. She couldn't ever stop after that mid mark. She bent over, cradling her thighs, embarrassment pouring off her back, into the toilet. It was louder than the pee-pee. She hushed all her movements. She silenced her breathing. She slowly, pulled a strip of toilet paper- slowly- out of it's dispenser, soft, shhh. Wiped, flushed, cringing.. "toilets are too loud, she knows I'm here." Her face, tense and stiff. She pulled up her pants and buttoned up her zipper. Thankfully, that other bathroom user was already in a stall. Missy couldn't bare to see this person, let alone share any greetings. She rinsed her hands in the sink, like a good employee. Paper toweled them dry, but didn't recycle, and reached for the door handle......

"Umm, excuse me, is anybody there?" said stall number one occupant.

"Oh Man!" thought Missy. "Hell!" She decided to ignore the plea and leave anyway.

"Hello? Hey, this stall is out of paper....Could you possibly hand me some under the door?" said stall number one occupant.

Our Missy was annoyed. She could feel it in her knees. But yet, there was something inside her tensed self that stopped her from leaving this poor lady high and dry. She pushed herself to utter a sort of, in a way... kind of, acknowledgement, "errah," and gathered up some two ply to hand underneath the stall. Not really thinking, but just being moved physically. And then she stopped..... She stood looking down a moment.... Her feet beneath her knees... the tile beneath her feet... an unfamiliar hand reaching from under the brown metal divider wall in a light of familiar helplessness.... just then .....it was that moment there ....when something clicked ...something clicked in our Missy's soul. She watched her hand slowly traveling downward, with a wad of the most brilliant white toilet paper held in her fingers. She saw these strange hands meet, in an exchange of mutual human understanding and regard. Her life was changed.

"Thank you," said stall number one occupant.

"Sure..... anytime," said Missy. And after that day, life was a bit brighter for our Missy at World of Windows, Inc.

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Thank you....
-Cori Crooks