Accept the aging process with grace
—Brynn Dalton’s Rules for an
Exemplary Life, #32
Distributing toilet paper was not on Brynn Dalton’s life list.
Neither was crying in a public bathroom at her own birthday party.
But if there was one thing Brynn was starting to suspect, it was that life’s plans went to hell after thirty.
“Excuse me, um…ma’am? Would you mind passing some toilet paper? This roll is empty.”
The slightly embarrassed question from the neighboring bathroom stall caught Brynn on the verge of a sob, and she blinked rapidly to keep the tears at bay.
“Oh. Sure.” She kept her voice composed. Her voice was always composed.
Brynn carefully tore off six squares of toilet paper and folded them neatly. She was about to pass them under the stall when she paused. The tidiness of the bundle annoyed her. So instead of handing it over, she set the folded squares on her knee and slapped at the toilet paper roll again until she had an enormous wad of tissue. Brynn very slowly, very intentionally crumpled the toilet paper into a ball.
Plus, now the poor lady on the other side wouldn’t be in the awkward position of having to ask for some more toilet paper. And Brynn Dalton was very good about not putting people in awkward situations.
Brynn leaned down slightly and thrust the wad of tissue under the stall wall.
“Thanks,” came the relieved voice. “You’d think a classy place like this would have enough TP stocked, huh?”
“You’d think,” Brynn agreed politely. Not that she gave a hoot about the toilet paper stocking policies at SkyCity’s private event venue.
“You here for the party?” the voice asked.
“Mm-hmm,” Brynn said, becoming aware that she was on the verge of entering full-on conversation from a toilet seat.
What kind of crassness was this? Talking through bathroom stalls had always made Brynn uncomfortable. Weren’t bathroom stalls supposed to be sacred places?
“Do you know the birthday girl?” the voice persisted.
“I’ve never met her,” the other voice said. “I’m just tagging along as the date of one of her friends.”
“Oh, nice,” Brynn said, struggling to keep her voice polite.
Brynn heard Chatty Cathy’s toilet flush. Finally. “Well, see ya,” the voice said. “Good luck.”
Good luck? What exactly did the stranger think Brynn was doing in here that required “luck”?
Then again, she had been in here for the better part of twenty minutes. And come to think of it…what was Brynn doing in here?
She knew only that she couldn’t be out there. She’d rather be watching her dignity melt away while passing out toilet paper to strangers than face what awaited her:
Her thirty-first birthday, and a room full of people just itching to spot that first gray hair.
Brynn breathed a sigh of relief as she heard the sink faucet turn off, as the swish of the swinging door indicated that the talkative woman had returned to the party. Finally Brynn could commence what she’d come in to do in the first place.
Wallow. In private.
“Brynn! Brynn Dalton, are you in here?”
The door to the women’s restroom banged against the wall and the click of a fast-paced high-heeled walk echoed through the marble bathroom.
In an uncharacteristic burst of cowardice, Brynn contemplated lifting her feet above the ground so that her sister wouldn’t be able to spot her shoes beneath the stall walls. She knew full well that Sophie Wyatt wouldn’t think twice about crawling around on hands and knees until she spotted her prey.
Then again, knowing Sophie, she also wouldn’t hesitate to look over the bathroom walls.
Resistance was futile.
The tap-tap of Sophie’s heels paused outside the stall where Brynn sat hiding.
“I know you’re in there, Brynn. I can see your boring brown shoes.”
Brynn glanced down at her designer pumps. “They’re not brown. They’re nude.”
“Seriously? Nude doesn’t even count as a color.”
Brynn’s brow furrowed. What did Sophie mean, nude wasn’t a color? The saleswoman at Nordstrom had told her that nude heels would make her legs look “impossibly long.”
She tried to look at them through her more flamboyant sister’s eyes. Okay, maybe the shoes were a little boring.
Just like you.
She pushed the disparaging thought out of her head. Self-pity wasn’t Brynn’s normal style, but it had been steadily fighting for room in her brain ever since she’d learned that the birthday she’d been hoping to sweep under the carpet was turning into a damn circus.