I’m not ready to leave the box. The times I’ve tried were disasters. I thought I was the lucky one with a place of my own, raised as I was, hugged by walls, but my sisters had an easier time leaving home. I wonder now what living this way has prepared me for. To those who say Daddy controls me, I insist he always supports my decisions to go. We’ll just leave the box here in the laundry room, he tells me, in case you decide you’re not comfortable out there. Does that sound like Svengali? The weightlessness begins as soon as I leave the house. The earth repels me. Each step I wonder if I’m heavy enough to come back to the ground. Without the walls, there’s nothing to keep me from evaporating or, like an astronaut on the moon, bouncing away into space. Of course, I’m being metaphorical. Things aren’t that desperate, just a feeling of insubstantiality common to girls striking out on their own. On the bus, crossing town to an interview, I clutch the pole and stare between my feet at the rubber floor. The lady with the sweat stains sitting across from me might turn me in if she figures out what I am. My shoes are not the shoes of a girl with a job. My ankles are red and disturbing. I’ll have to wear pants to work in an office all day or stay behind a counter. Between my feet the non-skid is a pattern of little disks, flattened nubs on the real floor beneath that draws my eye relentlessly pulling me off this seat. Will the bosses be kind, I wonder, or bully me into friendships with my co-workers when break time comes and everybody else has some place to be.

Copyright © May 01, 2008 David Hodges

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