Facade

She stormed off. Her skirt fluttering behind her due to the speed she was walking. The rhythmic tap tap tap of her shoes echoed through the quiet hallway. Thank goodness there was no one inside during lunch breaks of that people would bear the brunt of her rage. She quickened her pace even more and in no time, she reached the toilet. She hurriedly ran towards one of the stalls — all empty, of course — and slammed the door shut. Then she huffed a bit, paced back and forth in the narrow and limited space available inside the small toilet stall, before she sighed, huffed, slammed the toilet lid shut, and sat down — while still huffing — hard. The plastic lid of the toilet creaked a bit in protest.

She stared at the door for several seconds without blinking. Then she felt tears welled up, choking her throat, but she gulped and breathed a little deeper to escape it. She stared at the door once again. She looked up towards the ceiling next. Then she glanced at the wall next to her. It was as if she was looking for some answers for the fucked up day that she had. It started off from the beginning, she thought. Right from the morning, she should have just stayed at home with her warm blanket and purring cats huddled against her belly. But no. She just didn’t listen to that tiny little voice at the back of her mind to just stay at home and instead, she went to work even though she must face the wet, cold, and stormy weather outside. She left her warm blanket and a promise of a good day behind and decided to do the right thing by going to work. What right thing, she scoffed internally.

She turned her head from left to right and then from right to left. She remembered all the harsh words and humiliating sentences coming from that hateful mouth and once again she felt that white hot piercing pain behind her eyelids. She closed her eyes in the attempt to once again stop the tears. But this time, unlike before, she failed and she could feel the first few trickle of warmness on her cheeks. The trickle soon turned into a stream of hot tears coming down her face. She doubled over and hugged both her legs tight to her chest, all the while burying her tear-streaked face on her folded arms. She stayed in that position for a while and all that can be heard was her quiet sobbing and occasional snorts. She didn’t wail. She didn’t even sound like she was crying if not for the occasionally shaking shoulders and a few tiny sobs. Then she gasped and looked up in frustration once again. She felt like her heart was pierced by those words. How someone could be so cruel she didn’t know and she didn’t want to know. At that time she only knew that she was absolutely annoyed, to put it mildly, with everything. She was just so tired.

She took the much needed breath and tried to calm herself down. It was only midday which means there were a few hours left at work and it wouldn’t do her good to be seen by anyone with swollen eyes and runny nose for the rest of the day. What would people think? She tried to calm herself even more by wiping away the tears that run down stubbornly. But she remembered it all so clearly and once again she broke into tears.She sobbed silently and gasped trying to catch the much needed air. She didn’t know how long she stayed inside that tiny toilet cubicle but it must be quite a long time since she started to hear the footsteps and the soft chatter of the people returning to the office from their lunch breaks. She stared blankly at the door in front of her and in a quiet determination she took a deep breath, held it for a few seconds, and then released it in a big sigh. She wiped away the remnant of her tears and, after making sure there was no one outside the toilet stall, she went outside to check on her face. She looked at her face in the mirror and checked and rechecked for several times to make sure that her eyes weren’t rimmed with redness. She checked to make sure that her eyes didn’t look puffy, her nose weren’t runny. She checked carefully for any trace that would alert the world that there was something wrong with her. And finally after a total inspection for the last time, she stared at her own reflection and nodded, satisfied with the result of her thorough checking. At that moment, another employee entered the toilet and saw her standing in front of the sink.

“Oh, hi. I thought you went outside for lunch?” that employee asked her.

She looked at the other person and gave her the biggest smile she could muster. “Yes, right. I’ve just reached the office myself.”

Her façade was back and she would keep it plastered on her face. At least until she was alone and she could break down and cry her heart out once again. For now, her façade was her only weapon and shield to get through the day.

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