You took your hand off the escalator railing and placed it on mine. “Everything okay?” you asked. How could it have been okay? What was I supposed to say? I thought about my much-older friend who told me to look at the clock. I thought about my friend who didn’t want to go the party for fear of how much fun she might have, of what she might no longer need if she went. What was I going to wait for? And why was it always me that was going to have to wait? I imagined a porcelain box where I turned and turned on an endless loop, perfect in a tutu with a ribbon in my hair. Someone would close me and leave me on a shelf while they went away to do fun, dangerous, interesting things. They would open me a few days or weeks or years later and, after the tinkling music sputters for a few notes, I would start turning again. The thought of that little ballerina disgusted me.
I looked at the clock.
“Yeah,” I said, “I’m fine. I just have somewhere to be.”