I carried this summer’s swimsuit candidates into the stall. Safely locked away inside, I spied chipped polish on the feet to my right. My stall mate’s dreams laid rejected. Little angry bursts of color dotted the stained carpet around her. That’s when it started. Cursing. Under her breath like the river Nile. She had my sympathy, as one does, questing for a new swimsuit.

Her phone rang, interrupting us.

“Yes,” she said, all emotion eradicated by professionalism. The pile of bikinis on the carpet suffered a swift kick while she tried another. Her ability to multi-task, especially emotionally, earned my respect. Until the hangers crashed to the floor with the next costume change, and I leaped out of my skin.

“That?” she said, referring to the noise. “Just some bird.” She hadn’t skipped a beat. I, on the other hand, had stopped breathing. There was nothing but particle board between us. Hell hath no fury like a woman dealing with swimsuit season. What would she do next?

“Dwayne.” she said. I telepathically signaled Dwayne to r-u-n as she slid a foot into canary yellow swimsuit bottoms. “I’m stepping into a meeting now.” And in a surgical strike of her thumb, he was silenced. I waited for the fallout. Surely, now that “the meeting” was in full swing, the mirror was getting fired. Instead, her voice oozed admiration.

“Damn. Looks good.”

I felt honored to bear witness. Both of us, here, in our separate confessional booths. Sharing a moment. Because let’s face it, those stalls have heard it all. And perhaps, a decade or a year or a month ago, this might have ended like a bad movie from the nineties. But today? The canary yellow swimsuit bottoms, and how we see ourselves, are trending up.

I heard the lock from her stall and I snuck a peek as she sauntered towards the sun.


Cate Berry is an Austin-based children’s book author and mother of two. She also teaches writing workshops for young people at cateberry.com

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