Copyright © Girley
She was leaning against the bathroom sink when I walked in, almost as if she had been waiting for me. I wasn’t surprised to see her. The idea that I would enjoy this reunion in its entirety was hardly something I believed; at some point, I was well aware that she and I would cross paths. All the same, I was no longer a teenager. Painful, racing heartbeat or no, I was going to speak.
“Francine. How are you?” I asked lightly. “I haven’t seen you all evening.”
She appraised me openly, wearing that age-old expression of combined amusement and disdain. “I’ve been here and there.”
I thought of what next to say. “Amazing that it’s been 10 years, isn’t it?”
“No, not that amazing, actually.”
Ignore that. Move to the sink and stand right next to her. Check your make-up, yes. Act natural. “So, what have you been doing with yourself?” I asked, peering at myself in the mirror, pretending to spruce up my hair. The truth was that I was desperate to use the bathroom. However, I would do no such thing, certainly not while Francine Mission was in the same room. Perhaps the possibility that she would reenact a scene from our past (involving toilet water and my forehead) was a deterrent. Either way, I had no intention of creeping away from her like the frightened girl from long ago.
Francine continued to stare at me, her arms crossed over her chest. She hadn’t changed much. Tall and slender, biceps that could rein in a herd of buffalo. Those buffalo biceps were displayed by way of a sleeveless, mid-length black dress. Voluminous strawberry red curls framed her face and hung down her back. On the surface, she looked like a normal, well-arranged woman. If only the surface went deeper. “‘So, what have you been doing with yourself?’” she repeated, employing a high-pitched, cartoon version of my voice. “What do you think I’ve been doing, Michelle? Robbing banks? I’ve been doing what the rest of the world does every day—living my life. What an idiotic question. You, on the other hand, have been chucking those brain cells, haven’t you?”
I was instantly transported to the past, with its mocking and its visits to the chilly interiors of toilet bowls. Memories didn’t have to be this way, so angrily thrust at you like freight trains. Such attacks of memory only led to dangerous, bad things. In this case, it caused me to turn on the faucet and throw handfuls of both hot and cold water onto Francine Mission.
“Are you crazy?” she screamed over and over again.
“Don’t you ever call me an idiot,” I muttered, before stepping around her and exiting the bathroom. I took a deep breath and walked toward the hotel’s front desk. “Hi. Is there another bathroom I can use?”