It was only when he knew the place was empty and the door had latched behind him that he could burst out crying. The tears came, first slowly dripping out of his eyes, pattering the floor around him, then choked back as the deep, clutching sobs came from within. He could barely breath from their force and almost passed out from the effort. Even after they had finally gone, the tide of the depression coursed through him, like rushing water beating savagely at his temples. The throb was enough to force him to sit down on the lid of the toilet. It was all he could do to not collapse on the floor, balled up and powerless.
At that moment, he heard the creak of the door opening and the sound of footsteps over towards the faucet. Whoever it was seemed to linger for a few seconds after the water was turned off before the squeaking door announced the departure time. He waited a few seconds more and then reached for the roll of toilet paper. Slapping at it a few times unwound a lengthy piece that he tore off, dabbing at his eyes after he had done so. He unlocked the stall door and walked over to the sink. His eyes were puffy and pink, sandbags against a never ending storm. Looking at his watch, he knew there wouldn’t be enough time to explain the look to his students. He only hoped the group project they were working on would distract them enough so they wouldn’t pay much attention. He took a couple deep breaths before he turned around and walked out the door.
Luckily class was just a few steps down the hallway as he entered, moments before the passing bell signaled the beginning of the period. As the kids divided up into their groups, he sat down at his desk, shuffling a few papers around before finding his notes for sixth period.
“Okay class! Just a reminder your projects will be due before the end of class Friday. Remember, these tribal masks are supposed to represent the characteristics your chosen tribes wished to convey to others. Any questions please come ask me.” Sitting back, he watched them as they began working. This was always his favorite assignment to give out. He knew a little something about the benefit of masks.