I heard the bathroom door open and a girl walked in. I was still hiding in one of the stalls, thinking of a way to show myself. Franny had locked herself in a stall at the end of the bathroom, while I was waiting in the first one. She started crying. My heart sank a bit. Hearing people cry always made me feel bad. I listened to her cry for five straight minutes until she stopped abruptly. It still took her a couple of minutes before she came out of her stall. I knew I had to go now.
‘Who’s there?!’ I had spoken while still being in the stall and had apparently scared her a bit. I emerged from my cubicle and smiled.
‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. I was in there and I heard you crying. Are you ok?’
‘Yes. I thought I was alone. I’m sorry I let myself go like that.’
‘Don’t be sorry. Everybody feels bad sometimes. Do you want to talk about it?’
‘I don’t know. You’re a stranger. And besides, I’m fine again. I’ve just been feeling peculiar today.’
‘I’ve been feeling a little peculiar today as well. That’s actually why I came here.’
‘Are you also here with your boyfriend?’
‘No, just on my own.’
‘That seems odd.’
‘Why would a girl come to Sickler all by her self? Don’t you need company?’
‘I do. But I knew my company would be here, so I just showed up.’
‘You really are peculiar.’ Franny started applying lipstick while staring into the mirror. ‘So tell me, where do you go to school?’
‘I study abroad, a small town in a small country. You wouldn’t know it.’ Lying was starting to get easier. She just gave me another look and stared into the mirror again. I looked at her bag and noticed a small, green book. I already knew what it was.
‘What book are you reading, if I may ask?’ Her eyes focused a while on her bag and finally she turned to me.
‘It’s The Way of a Pilgrim. A Russian book about a thing called the Jesus Prayer.’ Franny looked a bit snobbish when she said this.
‘Can I see it? I’ve heard of it, but was never lucky enough to find it.’ The surprise in her face made me laugh and she handed me the book. I liked the fact that Franny felt a bit old-fashioned in the way she acted towards me. She didn’t expect me to know anything about the things she felt, but then again, she didn’t expect anyone to know how she felt. I flipped through the book and read a small part.
‘How do you know this book?’
‘I read about it in a story. I forgot the writer’s name.’ She bit her lip while I read some more.
‘What’s your name?’
‘I’m Polly. And you are?’
‘My name is Franny Glass.’ I gave her the book back and also looked into the mirror. Franny wasn’t as willing to talk as the others I had encountered, so I tried again.
‘Why were you feeling peculiar?’ She turned to me, sighed and finally gave in.
‘I’m sick off the whole farce. All these people and their egos! All those stereotypical girls and the Section men! Oh, the Section men! I’m so sick of all these people. Why do they need to ruin everything? Do you know what I’m talking about?’ I nodded and she went on. ‘They ruin fine literature and pretend to write works of art! But all they write is drivel. They wouldn’t know beauty if it hit them in the face.’ She came to her senses and reacted quite shocked. ‘I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me.’
‘It’s ok. I know how you feel. I feel somewhat the same. I’m trying to work against it and create, but it just doesn’t work. It seems like I don’t know how. I want to leave something lasting, something that lingers in peoples minds. A beautiful string of words, or even just a tiny sentence. Something that makes you think, something that moves you. Just something that makes an impression.’
‘Exactly! That is what we need! All the poets and writers nowadays don’t leave anything. They just write. We need to put something in this world that is important! You and me! Not those men out there.’ We smiled, understanding each others rambling perfectly.
‘Oh no! I forgot about Lane. He’s still waiting for me. I have to go. It was so nice to meet you Polly.’
‘Thank you for your company, Franny. It was very inspiring.’ She smiled one last time and left the bathroom in a hurry. I knew she was going to be very annoyed at Lane and I felt bad for him. But Franny had more difficult problems to worry about. Luckily, I knew she was going to be alright, so I left feeling happy, creating all kinds of things on my way home.