Heartbreak and Neon Flip Flops
I was sitting alone in a bathroom stall at Taco Bell where moments before I had realized that all I had in my life was a guy who cheated on me at least once a week and a somewhat loyal cat named Mittens.
I stared down at the cell phone in my hand, Chad’s number lit on the screen. I had been in this same position many times before, but I wasn’t sure if I knew who I was without him. He had become my entire identity. Everyone knew me as Chad’s girlfriend; as desperate as I was to change that, I was terrified of having no identity at all afterwards. I felt the tears start to well up again as I put the phone back into my pocket.
Suddenly, the door swung open and a pair of neon pink flip-flops covering a set of bright blue nails trotted into the stall next to me. I quickly sniffled, wiped my nose, and squeezed my eyes shut as to force the tears to evaporate. I don’t know why I cared what the set of feet thought of me since I was also just a set of feet to her, but I continued to wipe my face. I could feel the salt sting my skin as I rubbed it raw with Chad’s old Nickelback t-shirt.
I stood up and prepared to leave the stall so that I could avoid the weird eye contact as we both washed our hands next to each other. I opened the door and retreated to the sink, forcing my eyes not gaze up at the mirror. A part of me wanted to know how terrible I looked and the other part of me figured it would be better if I didn’t.
As I walked over to the hand towels, the set of flip-flops opened the door, stepped towards the sink, and turned the water faucet on. I glanced over at her and she appeared to be an average sized middle aged woman, but she was wearing clothes that I imagined a teenager from the 70s or 80s might. Everything she had on her body was a neon color, her skin tight leggings were a pink to match her flip-flops, her shirt yellow and orange stripes and hugged her in all the wrong places, her jacket also pink, and her light blonde hair was permed and tied into a sloppy ponytail. Her face was as wild as her outfit; she had bright red lipstick accompanied by orange eye shadow and a set of fake lashes.
I turned around and reached for the door as the woman cleared her throat and said,
“What’s his name, sweetheart?” Her voice had a bit of a southern accent to it and didn’t seem to match her outfit choice.
I was hesitant to reply to her and wondered how she knew what was bothering me. I suppose men are usually the reason some women cry so she may have just guessed. “Chad.” I wanted to keep it short and engage with her as little as possible. All I wanted to do was walk out and drive away.
The woman quickly wiped her hands on her leggings before reaching for my shoulder and keeping me from exiting the restroom. I turned around and she looked very concerned like a mother would when you come home from school with tears in your eyes. Something about her expression made me trust her. I was desperate for someone that I could confide in honestly, whether I wanted to admit it or not. Recently, everyone that I spoke to only wanted something from me so I wasn’t that eager to completely trust a stranger.
“Sweetheart, you will never find happiness in something that tears you apart.”