Tuesday, February 2, 2010

5:09 p.m.

Eleanor was closing the door behind her when another woman hurried to the bathroom door. Jumping out of the way, she watched it click shut, and she heard the fan turn on. She walked down the hall.

"Did I flush the toilet?" Eleanor stopped. "Yes." Eleanor continued towards the building's exit.

"The toilet roll," she realized as she started her car.

A small bit of paper was all that remained, and between zipping up her pants and washing her hands, Eleanor managed to throw away the cardboard tube, but she forgot to grab a replacement from the cupboard around the corner.

Silently, Eleanor shook her head and flushed with irrational embarrassment.

It was the sort of moment when, just before the doctor looks in your ear, you remember you haven't cleaned them in days because you keep forgetting to buy cotton swabs. Ritualistic post-shower cleaning is a mindless act, but considerate, especially if one is friends with whisperers or has a partner who enjoys kissing ears. "Please don't acknowledge the waxiness," you think.

Now the frantic bathroom lady would either have to do without or make a sneaky, awkward sidestep to the cupboard. She, only she, would know whose forgetfulness caused (what is in the grand scheme) a minor annoyance. Eleanor would never see this woman again, and the moment would go unannounced. It was simply a regrettable situation to be kept between the two of them and soon forgotten. If again they did meet, like a doctor and his slightly less than hygienically-perfect patient, neither would mention it aloud.

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