Shirley watched the trains go by wondering if the people knew how fast they were going or if they were going fast enough they felt stationary like when you close your eyes on an escalator, or avoid the window while flying on a plane, or even when everything around you is moving forward and your friends are falling in love, having families, finding good jobs and making something of themselves and you are just standing still, even though the hands on the clock have moved in rhythmic rotation day after day after day until you are dizzy from watching, and instead of feeling stationary you are falling — falling down a rabbit hole just like Alice did — tumbling head over heels into darkness and uncertainty, not sure when it will stop and you can stand still again, take a deep breath again, be happy again; all of these thoughts rushed through Shirley’s mind as she sat on her padded, rotating chair, taking the tokens that came through the small slot in her window, making her fingers smell like old coins or dirty keys, each one a one-way ticket to another place, somewhere filled with offices and paper filing, hot dogs and greasy hamburgers, wool scarves and perfume counters — somewhere that wasn’t here in her five foot by five foot cell with reinforced bullet-proof glass and broken fan, a free Audubon society calendar on the wall and red phone for emergencies only — real emergencies, like a person getting mugged or someone having a seizure — not Shirley’s kind, because who would believe her anyway, that her heart was broken and soul misplaced in the city of dreams and opportunities, where you can be anything you want to be and the whole world is open to you, even if that world is only five-by-five.

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