We met through work. I’d been there for a good four months, after the honeymoon period, the steep learning curve and buzz of meeting and being accepted by a new crowd before my impression on them faded like the toner on the sheets coming out of the printer behind my desk.
I’d mostly bump into her in the ladies’ toilets; a grim place. The whole building was grim but someone had made the effort to transform the areas designated as working areas to individual companies by inviting in large houseplants with leaves like accusing fingers to stroke your shoulders as you passed by their tasteful pots. The battleship grey toilets could have been anywhere and always felt dirty even though they were cleaned daily. Therefore, when someone walked in (assuming that they weren’t dressed in grey), their image in the mirror stood out like a red rose in a shroud of mist. The laminated signs on the inside of the cubicle doors ‘If you sprinkle when you tinkle, be a sweet and wipe the seat’ always made me smile; a reminder that somewhere, someone cared, that the greyness and lack of humanity in that airless cube was as temporary as the fullness of my bladder.
The first time I noticed her, she was looking in the mirror. She’d filled the basin with water and was splashing her face as if trying to drown the worry lines on her forehead. Her mascara was running and she took some paper towel to it, the red wheels left by its roughness giving back a little colour to her cheekbones.
The last time we met it was more serious and she had been crying. There was only one way to make things better; I grabbed some more paper towel, pulled myself together and resigned.