You press your palms into the painted cinder blocks, glide your fingers along the grooved cracks. Dig the toe break of one skate into the slick floor–stationing, grounding yourself, telling yourself that you belong. That you belong here as much as the next girl. You roll the wheels of the other skate back and forth, almost imperceptibly, as if it feels normal, commonplace even, to stand here alongside this wall, waiting.
You do not mention, not to anyone, that you spent an entire day’s worth of your mother’s wages on your outfit. She is single, and there is only one paycheck. You hope what you’re wearing today will increase your odds of getting noticed. With the dimmed lights and twinkle of the disco ball, your shirt glows in the dark.
Earlier in the week your mother took you shopping, bought you this white woven top and a pair of designer jeans. You do not usually shop at the mall. The mall is reserved for other girls: the ones waiting further down the wall. Those girls, whose bodies are sculpted by ballet and gymnastics. Girls who show off their tightly trim bodies in snug fitting jeans, confident they’ll be approached by the cute boys who can skate backwards. Those girls, when they attempt to color their own hair and screw up, have mothers who allow them to skip school, take them to the fancy salon downtown to get it fixed. You? You are stuck with uneven streaks of mustard and platinum until it grows out.
Before your mother dropped you off at the rink, you spent an hour feathering your hair, parting it down the middle, spraying it still with White Rain, even though White Rain makes you sneeze. Your bangs will fall flat without it, and your chances of being asked to skate are already slim.
As the lights dim and the music softens, those other girls, the ones who hum along to the music and giggle amongst themselves, they know they will not wait long. Those girls date high school boys. Those girls have mothers who tuck extra quarters into their backpacks so they can buy Dr. Pepper and Jolly Ranchers from the corner store after school.
When the last few boys skate by and you realize they are not headed your way, you crouch down to re-lace your skate, twirl the ends of your hair. When all of the single skaters are paired up––even the neighbor boy who gave you a valentine's day gift in the fifth grade–you rush off to the bathroom, over to the concession stand. Act relieved to avoid the crowds.
You glance down at your hands and realize the blue of your denim has bled onto your fingers, onto the frayed edges of your new top. You wish you had not clipped the sales tags so you could return them both. It’ll take you decades to forgive yourself for spending $68 dollars on this outfit. To realize your mother had worked eight hours at the hospital for a pair of jeans and one shirt. Eight hours, and you were not asked to skate for a single minute.
Susan holds an MA in Education and an MFA from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. She is assistant non-fiction editor at Pithead Chapel and at Red Fez. Her essays, stories and poems have been published in various print and online journals, including Pithead Chapel, Colorado Review, and Gone Lawn. You can find her at susantriemert.com
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.