Clarke wouldn't say that she was proud of herself.
Hiding in the boys bathroom stall to avoid her friends wasn't the highlight of her day. Though, to be fair her whole day had been one step downhill after the other so she couldn't make herself feel too surprised that it had ended up here. Here being, sitting in the public bathroom, feet tucked up on the closed seat underneath her as she played with her phone and ignored the constant worried messages. Here also being the mental state of 'fuck fuck fuck' and 'fuck my life' and 'I probably deserve this'.
She could hear Octavia's voice outside and distracted herself with the bathroom graffiti, hoping that she wouldn't come in.
gry waz here. Well that was succinct, to the point. She'd give it two stars for that at least. The constellation design on the other wall was pretty - three out of five. At least the crass poetry that had been scrawled black was kind of genius, though rhyming dick with thick was a little boring and she could have done better.
It was the number written in bold black that caught her attention, and the message underneath it that made her frown.
She fiddled with her phone for a moment and then, Did you know that your number is in a bathroom stall?
Clarke killed time by sending a snapchat to the only one of her friends that wasn't currently scouring the campus for her (and only because he was on the other side of the world) who promptly replied with why are you sending me pics of a bathroom clarke wtf? and she sent him seven more to annoy him because he was a jerk and she had nothing better to do while she waited for the stranger to reply.
When they did, it was with a curt No.
Well it is. do you want me to cross it out for you?
She watched as the little bubble popped up, the dots blinking. Then, Yes.
Clarke nodded. She would have done it anyway - the message wasn't flattering by any means - but she hoped that she had made someone feel a little safer in this big stupid world by letting them know. Letting her know, she assumed from the message.
Consider it done
She leant to her side, dug in her bag for a moment to find a marker she knew was in there somewhere, and began embellishing the number. Blacking it out first, and then covering it up with a drawing of her own. A little devil with numbers dancing around him. She would call it the Number Devil and he would remain as a warning to anyone who thought writing their enemies numbers in bathroom stalls to get people to harass them was a good idea. Her phone buzzed just as she was drawing the devil face (he was going to be eating a phone, it was going to be a bold statement entirely worthy of her art major) and she capped her pen to read the message.
Why did you tell me?
Clarke hesitated. Then, well, she had nothing to lose so why not tell this complete stranger absolutely everything?
Because I'm hiding from my friends in the boys toilet
Because I'm a terrible person and I feel like crap today because everything has been going wrong and yeah I know that it's a mindset or whatever that I've put myself into and I know that my friends are just trying to help but honestly they're making it all worse and I can't deal with it right now
Because I know that girls don't generally put their numbers up where boys can find them to harass so I thought why not do a good deed maybe it will make me feel better
She dropped her head back against the wall and sighed. Stupid. Annoying random strangers with her problems because she couldn't face her friends. The buzz of her phone tingled in her hand and she sighed again. She wondered if she should even bother reading the message her stranger sent back - it was probably going to be an 'okay fuck off now I'm busy' kind of thing and, while she knew that she deserved that, she still didn't want to read it.
Clarke was curiosity's bitch though so she groaned, rolled her head to face her lap, and opened her phone to read it.
Did it? the message read and Clarke frowned.
Did it make you feel better?
Clarke smiled. She thought about the question until her screen dimmed and locked itself, and then she thought about it some more. Finally, she tapped out a reply.
A little. There was the temptation to add an explanation - why she was upset, why her friends were looking for her, perhaps a rant about how she found it kind of foul how people spread numbers like that as a kind of an attack, why she felt like she needed to do something or have something good today - but she just took a photo of her half-finished drawing instead and sent it along with the message.
What is that?
My response to shitheads who post people's numbers without permission. I'm calling it the number devil and it's meant to stand as a rebuke against privacy violation... also to freak boys out.
It was a rather gruesome picture, to be honest, and Clarke couldn't help the amusement she felt at the idea of boys sitting in the stall and doing their best not to look at it.
You are very strange.
Yeah. Clarke smiled down at her phone.
You are also very talented. I would like to see it when you are finished.
And that made Clarke smile like nothing else had that day and she tucked her phone into her pocket and got to work, immersing herself in the wretched and the wicked drawing until the devil was finally done and she was happy enough to lean back and nod. She snapped a picture and stood - crashed back down because her legs were tingling with pins and needles and one was fully numb from the knee down and she had to hold herself up, hands pressed against the walls of the stall, and jump in place until the feeling was back. Her leg buzzed unpleasantly but it was better than the constant fear that she was going to break her ankle walking if she couldn't feel it (improbable, but she couldn't help the fear).
Plus, she had dinner plans she had to make.
She sent the finished product to her stranger as she wandered back to her apartment. Octavia wasn't home and she did her best to move quickly, showering and changing, and by the time she checked the clock the hour until dinner yawned wide and empty ahead of her.
She dropped into her desk chair. Checked her phone. Two messages.
It's good. Creepy.
And, Thank you.
Clarke smiled - she had been counting, and this stranger had pulled four smiles from her now, an unheard of number especially today of all days.
You're totally welcome, stranger. Sorry for dumping all my problems on you. She fiddled with her phone for a moment, feeling oddly exposed. Sure, she had told this girl stuff but - wait. You are a girl, yeah? Just checking because I totally assumed and I shouldn't have done that. Rude.
Okay. Cool. Me too, btw
I was uncertain. You were in the male toilets after all.
I was hiding. It was the first place I found.
That is very strange of you, her stranger told her and Clarke couldn't help but smile again - that was five now - because her stranger's replies were instant and it make Clarke feel good that someone was waiting for her to talk. Someone was listening to her and it wasn't heavy with pity or concern or worry. It wasn't anything but fun and light teasing.
I have to go, Clarke sent and she found herself regretting it instantly. Regret felt oddly like suddenly exposed dread and she knew that she had been using these messages as a buffer, as a way to forget dinner and everything else that was going on, to pretend that life wasn't always moving and that she could stay and talk forever with no worries.
She wanted to nestle in a cocoon of blankets and maybe drink a stupid amount and she absolutely did not want to leave the house. But. She had to.
She looked down and saw she had been doodling as she texted her stranger. Clarke snapped a picture of the drawing, sent it off. A phone with a smiley face - utterly lame, utterly childish. But cute.
Have a good evening, was her stranger's reply.
She thought maybe that the girl kept the photo though. Wishful thinking, that, whimsy thinking. But there was no harm in that. None at all.
Clarke picked up her jacket and her keys. Left a note on the kitchen counter for Octavia, didn't let herself feel the prickle of guilt that she had avoided and ignored her all day, and she made her way to her car, the weight of her phone in her pocket reassuring.