At a strange party where I knew no one, I felt responsible for an unhappy little girl who tried to slip out the door when someone came or went. Twice I caught her just in time. I knew it was dangerous for her to go out, because there had been an unusually high tide — I had just returned from the beach myself, and it was wet all the way to the cliffs. The sand was juicy, very difficult to walk on, and strewn with sea life.
I worried about making a mess on the short blue carpet with my shoes. But when I looked down I noticed the shoes weren't mine, and weren't even wet. They were someone's old black tennis shoes, which I thought I remembered seeing somewhere — in an entryway, or airing out on someone's front step.
The girl was about four years old and had short blond hair. She never spoke. To keep her entertained, I turned myself into a rocking chair and rocked back and forth on my back while she sat on my chest. Somehow, though, the rocking motion moved us across the room, and I bumped my head against the wall — and then, suddenly, I was alone on a city sidewalk, surrounded by tall buildings, standing outside a glass door next to an alley. In simple white lettering on the glass, it said "2-H." Through the glass I could see stairs.