It's so quiet I can hear the tiny ticking noises that the clock is making. Tick tock. Tick tock. Time moves on, no matter what. You're running late? Time doesn't care. Tick tock, time runs on. Tick tock.

Suddenly, I remember one of Albert Einstein's theories about time. The closer the speed is to the speed of light, the slower time goes. What if I just ran around my house with a clock in my hand? Could I stall? Tick tock.

Tick—15 seconds. Tock—16 seconds. And counting.

6:38 and 19 seconds, 20, 21… I have approximately twenty-one minutes and thirty seconds.

I could get out of it so quickly. All I'd have to do would be to dial those familiar numbers. I order my legs to walk me to the phone, but they don't budge. Bad legs. No doggie treat for you.

Twenty minutes and 6 seconds left, 5 seconds left, 4, 3…

I wish time would stop, just for a minute. At least until my legs obey my brain.

Fifteen minutes and 33 seconds left, 32, 31…

Just a phone call. That's all. My time counting would be over. Reaching for the telephone doesn't work; it's too far away. Walk, legs. Still no movement below my hips.

Five minutes and 46 seconds left, 45, 44…

It's not too late if I call now. Move it, legs, move it. Bribing them doesn't work like it does on people. Legs are too smart. That's it, legs; you're grounded for a week.

35 seconds left. 34 seconds left. 33 seconds left.

I bite my fingernails haphazardly. At the rate I'm chewing them, I won't have any left by the end of the minute.

28 seconds left. 27 seconds left. 26 seconds left.

Chew, chew, chew. Won't this moment just end? Can't the clock just stop now? My stupid legs won't move. Too bad the house isn't a giant car, then I could just drive it away. People with mobile homes have an advantage. Maybe I'll buy one when I get older.


7:01 and 17 seconds. Late by one minute and seventeen seconds. Thank you.

Of course my legs will only move to meet what I have been dreading. They approach the door at a shuffle. My hand grabs the doorknob. This is not me. The real me is retreating like the coward that I am. This person opening the door is some courageous person imitating me. There is no way this is me.

He's holding a drooping bouquet of flowers. They're beautiful flowers, but they're drooping.

The me-imitation says thanks as she flashes this guy a smile. The me-imitation puts the flowers in a vase and goes back to him. Do you hear me! She goes back! The real me would not have gone back. The real me would have run away like a coward.

He is so beautiful. His beautiful eyes give me a once-over, and then his beautiful mouth tells me how good I look. His beautiful mouth tells me I'm the beautiful one. I resist the urge to snort. As if.

I anxiously get into his car, without acknowledging the fact that he opened the car door for me. Stupid me. He drives us to our restaurant. We eat a delicious dinner. A delicious Italian dinner.

8:49 and 14 seconds. The dance started forty-nine minutes and fourteen seconds ago. Time for the agony.

I'm not used to all the stares he and I are receiving. They are jealous stares. They are evil stares. They are the stares of a girl who just had her boyfriend stolen from her. It's not my fault though. It's his. Doesn't anyone understand? I wouldn't have gone if it hadn't been for my disobedient legs!

A slow song begins playing immediately after we enter. Goodness, already?

We go onto the dance floor. He pulls me close to him, wrapping his arms around my mid-section. I timidly put my hands around his neck. He smells good. Good cologne. I think about complimenting him, but I realize it's just not something you compliment people on. You don't go around telling people they smell good.

I'm just waiting for the part where he turns me loose in a violent motion. The part where he laughs hysterically and tells me it was all a joke. The part where he abandons me and goes dancing with the beautiful blonde chick.

I wait and wait. I wait for seven more songs, when the time is 9:29 and 3 seconds. We are still together. We head over to the punch bowl. It's spiked with beer. Disgusting.

Ten minutes we stand idle, talking about things. I don't remember what. Probably about school and family, but not friends. We avoid the subject of friends. After those ten minutes, the beautiful blonde chick approaches him.

She wants him to dance with her. He shakes his head no. She pleads. He says no. She pouts, why not? He says he already has a date. She gives me a look to kill.

9: 43 and 44 seconds. Only one hour, twenty-six minutes, and 26 seconds left of this torture. Only.

Ten more songs we dance. One is a slow song. If possible, he hugs me closer to him than before. I like the intimacy. I like it a lot. What I don't like is everyone's stares making me feel awkward, as if I don't deserve to dance with him. Those accusing faces are right. Why am I dancing with him?

10:16 and 9 seconds. Forty-three minutes and 51 seconds left.

Nervous from all the stares, I make a trip to the bathroom. Girls are standing in front of the mirrors, twittering about their hair and their make up and their nails and whatever else there is to twitter about. I go into a stall and sit down on the toilet in my dress, relieved from standing on my feet.

Less then a minute later, I hear the beautiful blonde chick's voice. She's asking her girlfriends who do I think I am to go to the dance with him? She wants to know why did he choose me over her? She's questioning how could I be anyone's first choice? Her girlfriends are agreeing one hundred percent. It's their job as her stupid little airhead posse.

The sad thing is I agree with her too.

10:17 and 56 seconds. Forty-two minutes and 4 seconds left.

I emerge from the bathroom with a bland expression on my face. The beautiful blonde chick and her girlfriends stare at me with surprise. A nice variety from the other stares I've been getting all night. I tell her how I've been wondering the same things all night and she can go have him right now if she wants. She smiles a smug smile and exits the bathroom.

I return to my stall.

She comes back five minutes later, wailing how could he not want her since I was gone? I come out of my stall with a frown. I don't know, is my answer to her rhetorical question. He is waiting for me by the gym doors. He wants to know what took me so long? I shrug off his question. He asks why am I so upset? He gazes softly at me with his beautiful eyes. I peer into his eyes for a brief moment, and then look at the ground.

10:25 and 33 seconds. Thirty-four minutes and 27 seconds left.

Again he inquires why am I so upset? I fire a question back, why is he at the dance with me? He answers because he likes me, that I should ignore everyone else because they don't matter, what matters is that he has fallen in love with me since we started sitting next to each other, by chance, in four of our classes seven months ago.

He never said before he loved me. Heck, this was the first time we'd gotten together outside of school. I always thought we were friends. I thought asking me to the dance was either out of pity, or some huge joke he cooked up with his friends.

How do I tell him I love him back, without saying a word? How do I tell him I've been in love with him since the first time I laid eyes on him? So I kiss him with a hug. He understands. He is one of the only people who understands the strange language I speak, where words are scarcely involved.

I wonder what time it is. I hope it isn't anywhere near 11:00.

His embrace during our kiss is stronger. I pull away from his mouth, bury my head into his neck, and deeply inhale his good smell. I think people are gaping at us. I think I see the beautiful blonde chick gawking at us in disbelief. But it doesn't matter anymore. All that matters is that we are two people who love each other, even though everything else is working against us.