The teacher glanced at the room conspiratorially as my chest and face heated to a boiling point. She dangled the cat’s nose pink strappy slippers from a single finger, “Whose are these?”
At no peep out of myself or my classmates, the white flag surrender sway of the shoes increased to the speed of a threatening pirate’s ship’s skull and crossbones, “No one?!”
I’d glanced at the shoes and knew by their scuffed and loosely built structure that they were mine. But instead of claiming them, my eyes fell on the curled stragglers of hair on the nape of the person in front of me.
To me, ballet was like the peas on my plate I “had to try” before I could excuse myself to play. Even at seven years old, I knew the “cool” hierarchy, so my leotard and tutu-wearing self held close to the secret hours I spent in the mirrored hall after class.
But I knew if the teacher called my bluff and called for a Cinderella trial, the fit would set off bells and whistles like 7-7-7 in a Vegas slot machine.
The teacher knew they were mine, and I still lied. Shortly after, my Mom had them in hand, and even shorter after I hung up those shoes for good.