Tissue

By Angel Phillips

Elisabeth approached the second story bathroom with disdain. Using her hip to push the door open, she knew immediately that she was not alone. She could see two sets of feet in the handicapped stall- the one Elisabeth would have chosen for herself. Giggles and whispers emerged from the last stall, along with a distinct, smoky, skunky odor that Elisabeth remembered from her collage years. “Just great,” she grumbled to herself, “I will be complaining to security about this, again. I should have my own bathroom by now.” She debated for a moment and then chose the stall farthest from the one that was occupied.  Elisabeth reached into her pocket, pulled out a tissue, and used it to protect her hand as she pushed the stall door open.

She eked her way in, not allowing any part of her to touch the walls. Using the same tissue, she closed and locked the stall. Elisabeth threw the contaminated tissue into the toilet. Unzipping her bag, she quickly found the resealable package of antibacterial wipes.  Then she turned and cleaned the area on the stall door around the hook. Along with the scum a portion of the graffiti came away, leaving the words:

If you sp              n you tinkle

be                  tie

wi               eatie

Elisabeth rolled her eyes at the phrase, thinking how oddly appropriate it was, and disposed of the wipe. She carefully hung her bag, and turned toward the toilet. She pulled out a pair of nitrile gloves and,  armed with a new wipe, cleaned the toilet from top to bottom, reloading every few swipes and dropping the used wipes into the bowl. By now, the water was almost filled with paper products and was in dire need of being emptied. As in most public restrooms this seat did not have a lid. Elisabeth hated this type, knowing how every particle would be spewed into the air as soon as she flushed. She again reached into her purse and pulled out a zippered plastic bag of toilet paper. She began the tedious task of covering the seat, starting horizontally, and then crisscrossing both vertically and diagonally, ensuring that not one droplet of sewage would escape. Then, using a fresh wipe, she pushed down on the handle.

“Fuck! My lighter isn’t working!” the voice thundered through the restroom, shocking Elisabeth almost to the point of a scream.

The loud voice continued “Seriously, though! I mean, like, what a dick! He thinks he runs this place! Look at these texts! What the fuck? One minute he’s all, ‘oh you’re so young and sexy,’ then bam! ‘You still have to turn in your assignments.’ Then he fucking fails me! ”

“Wow, girl,” the voice’s quieter companion replied. “You should totally key his car!”

Elisabeth glared through the walls, as though she could silence the offenders with her eyes. Unfortunately this did not work, so Elisabeth did her best to ignore the toxic speech. She used a fresh wipe to push the tissue into the bowl and began adding a new layer to act as a fortification for her behind. She lowered herself carefully, so as not to disturb the shield, scrunching the legs of her pants upward as she pulled the top down. She didn’t want the hem of her pants to touch the soiled ground. When she came to a rest she took a deep breath in and out. She released a controlled stream, only allowing the slightest amount out so as to avoid any splash-back.

“Well I’m not gonna fuck him again, that’s for sure!” the interruption caused Elisabeth to clench up stopping her relief.

She grasped her pants and underwear as though this would protect her from the voice. As she adjusted to the voices, Elisabeth began to release again, this time so slowly that no sound came from fluid hitting water. “I shouldn’t have had that second extra-large latte,” she thought, as the slight odor of coffee reached her.

Elisabeth finally finished and dried herself. She again pushed tissue into the bowl. She stood back and looked at the toilet so filled with paper that it nearly spilled over. She abhorred people that left facilities unflushed, but knew that if she attempted it the plumbing might overflow, and that was something she absolutely couldn’t deal with. So, she pulled off her gloves tossed them in with everything else, grabbed her bag and yet another tissue, and let herself out.

As she walked to the sink she heard the lock from the handicapped stall turn. She quickened her pace to the sink and shoved her hands under the faucet.  Elisabeth tried to ignore the voices behind her as she pulled out a travel bottle of hand sanitizer and began scrubbing her hands.

“What professor was it again?” the voice approached. “I don’t wanna end up in his class.”

“Fucking Bill Whitely,” the other voice responded. “Computer Science, but you can’t avoid him.”

The two young women approached the sink, one an attractive blonde, the other a plain, mousy looking brunette.

The blonde peered into the mirror, and began to touch up her hair. Her eyes caught Elisabeth’s reflection.

“Hey, aren’t you one of…” the blonde began to ask when she was interrupted by an elbow from her friend.

“Shut up! That’s…” hissed the brunette and motioned with her eyes.

Elisabeth looked up and made eye contact via the mirror.

“Uh, so why are you in this bathroom?” the brunette asked while her friend stood with her mouth gaping.

“Our restroom is under construction,” Elisabeth replied curtly.

Elisabeth pulled her hands out of the water and turned toward the obtrusive women, who stood between her and the hand drier. “I need to get going; sorry, can I get past you, please?” Elisabeth squeaked out.

The girls, in unison, took a small step to the side. Elisabeth dried her hands quickly, while the two girls stood staring at her.

Elisabeth escaped from the bathroom, leaving the two young women gawking stupidly after her.  She rushed down the hall and to the elevator. She used a fresh tissue for the button indicating down. Elisabeth waited impatiently, tapping her feet, until the doors opened; she entered and pressed the light for the main floor. As Elisabeth stood in the elevator, the conversation she had tried to ignore in the bathroom, came bubbling up inside her. She swallowed, took a deep breath, and applied a layer of hand sanitizer.  When the elevator opened, she hurried to the open double doors of the large auditorium. She turned to kick the doorstop allowing the doors to close behind her. She rigidly walked out in front of the inattentive audience. Her eyes traveled over the group, identifying a few of the more obvious cases. A young man, glaring hungrily at another, more fashionably dressed man- a Latent Homosexual. A girl with a downward gaze, and weather inappropriate long sleeves- a Self Mutilator. Two young women, who snuck in late- Elisabeth could practically hear the STD’s crawling on them.

Elisabeth cleared her throat. “I apologize for my lateness,” she said loudly “Welcome to Abnormal Psychology. I am Dr. Elisabeth Whitely, and I will be your instructor.”

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Categories: Fiction, Issue 6 | Leave a comment

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