The Woman in the Bathroom

I go to the bathroom with the lights off. Except when it’s one of those that don’t have windows on them, not just proper windows but one without any kind of hole crack or gap where sunlight or any kind of light for that matter can pass through, that is, if I needed to do something there required my vision like say, locating the toilet bowl. And even if do turn on the lights though, once I get a clear comprehension of the bathroom lay-out, I put the lights out again. I go to the bathroom for more reasons than most people. Yes, I take my showers in bathrooms; I also, like everyone else relieve myself in bathrooms. I brush my teeth there, shave, and wash my face when I’m too lazy or cold to take a bath, floss, etc, etc. With the lights out, I never found it a problem doing all that, not even shaving. Besides my fingers can tell better than my eyes if I missed so much as a millimeter of a stubble. Most bathrooms I go to though; the one at my girlfriend’s, my parent’s house’s bathroom, the office bathroom, and the one in my pad, have enough natural, reflected, or “residual” light- enough for me, that is. Other than those activities involving personal hygiene, I go to the bathroom to think. I’d sit on the bowl with my pen and notepad or sketchpad, depending on how I want to document my thoughts or lack thereof. I go to the bathroom to cry- but most people do that. That doesn’t count. On the other hand, I go there to sleep. How? I sit on the bowl, rest my elbows on the tops of my thighs and hold my face, cupping the two sides of my jaw, shut myself up and yes, my eyes too. I go there to make phone calls I’m especially nervous or excited about; when I need to apologize for an absence or more appropriately, lie about one- I’d make the call in the bathroom. If I got call from my girlfriend, I’d ask her to stop and continue talking after I get inside one. I write my letters in the bathroom. Every time I get a new download or buy a new CD, I listen to it first inside one. I read there too- On days where there are more people than I need in a place, I’d kidnap myself and read in the bathroom. All this I do inside tiled walls given of course that these bathrooms were clean and pleasant enough.

The woman first appeared in the office bathroom in late august. I’ve been working for over 2 years now in a small company near the port. We print-out large-scale ads- billboards and everything else that’s smaller too. But mostly, it’s the large ones. Doesn’t pay as much as I feel I deserve but what the heck, I get a view of the port-from my desk at that. The office bathroom is a combination of what I call a decent bathroom and a nice bathroom. A bathroom is decent when it’s not altogether special or stylish or well-designed but pleasant enough to stay in. A nice one would a bathroom that deserves the first three adjectives the decent bathroom would otherwise lack. The office bathroom was spacious enough, a perfect rectangle; it had a clean boxy white console with a minimalist oval sink and a large panoramic mirror with an interesting frame of randomly welded metal that resembled twigs in a thicket. The toilet bowl was also very contemporary with a simplistic form, the only big curves belonged to the rim, other than that, it was full softened and humanized right angles. The bathroom had a shower with an expensive showerhead, one I’d personally want for myself but knew I couldn’t afford. It was one of those that mimicked rainfall, shaped like a flat square plate riddled with perfectly ordered holes. No one’s ever used it though, but I’m planning to be the first to- someday. Maybe on my last day.

That’s where I first saw her, under the showerhead; she was looking up at it. It gave the impression that it was the first showerhead she’d ever seen or at least the first like it. I had accidentally switched on the light as I went inside. The sight of her stopped me. ‘Sorry’ I said.

And went right back out. I checked after an hour or so and she was still there. Strange. I really needed to go this time so I asked her, ‘Excuse me. I see you’ve been in here for almost an hour now, can I possibly have my turn?’

She didn’t budge, she was still looking up at the showerhead. I could see her face reflected on the stainless steal. I stayed by the door for a while, waiting to see what would happen, or what was happening. She just stayed there staring at the shower.

‘Miss, I really need to go.’ She finally turns her toward me. I sighed in relief.

‘Hey man’

I was surprised she had a low voice, in fact, it was more of a man’s. Her mouth didn’t move though, not a single twitch. The line of her lips didn’t seem to change at all.

‘You done?’

Then I realize the voice didn’t come from inside the bathroom at all but behind. It was after all an officemate, the copywriter, who spoke. I pointed my thumb at her.

‘Ok thanks’ And he steps in. I didn’t understand why he did when in fact I pointed the woman to him. Didn’t he see her?

‘There’s someone inside’ I say to him.

He scowls at me and grabs the doorknob.

‘Hey…um..gotta close the door now’

Shut. I stood there, my nose an inch away from the door. I didn’t get it.

Ever since that day, whenever I needed to go I’d always find her there. How could she stay there the whole time? And who was she anyway? She’s pretty alright but why does she have to stay there the whole time? Needless to say, I couldn’t use the office bathroom anymore. My officemates still kept going in and out of there though, I never really pushed them or asked them about it, my silence was enough to qualify me as the ‘weird guy. Sometimes I thought of ignoring her but it never worked. She’d be standing on the same spot looking up at the showerhead or sitting on the bowl or leaning on the wall corners and I just couldn’t do my business with her around. Soon, I figured I’d do my bathroom business (when I needed to) in the bathroom near the lobby, 5 stories below. I kept going to the office bathroom, only to see her. One thing good about her was that she was never scary, although I was the only one who could see her, that was a scary fact. But she herself, this image or this being that she was never pulled my hairs up. In fact, she was a pleasant thing/person?/being to look at. So I kept coming to the bathroom, I don’t know why or what for, probably to keep her company.

It’s October now and she’s still there. We’ve never really talked although I know she can and she does- sometimes- but we’ve never had a conversation. She’s not a ghost although she wears the same Minnie Mouse night-tee every day. I can say she's not a ghost because once I offered her a donut and she gobbled it up. I didn't see any chewed up donutes falling on the floor anyway so I guess it must've ended up in her stomach. So she's not a ghost, no she isn't. She has short hair, cut like a boy’s and always unmanaged, I figured maybe that was where she somehow ended sleeping every night- the office bathroom- thus the eternally messed up hairdo but what the heck- what would you expect from a girl in a night-tee? In fact, she looked kinda cute- she had a child-like face, one that could disarm you even on your best days, or your worst and you think nothing can get to you in your metaphysical Titanium armor. -