ENG 302 Fiction Prose
2 November 2012
1. Trapped in Elevator, alone, with a person you would walk across the street to avoid. Write a narrative dialogue.
With a swoosh, “ding!” the elevator doors open with their usual mechanical efficiency, and I’m pleased to see that it is empty. I quickly step into the moderately lit box, because I hate the feeling of being over the gap between the floor and the elevator. It’s a type of limbo we all pass through, but never notice. There’s a brief sense of urgency in my step because I’m hoping that the grip, rope, whatever holds the elevator doesn’t slip, cleaving me in half, as it pummels down the shaft.
If it does happen, I hope that there are people already in the elevator. I wouldn’t want to die alone. I turn to the left and press the black number 27 disc, and make sure to watch for the red ring of affirmation.
The crisp brushed aluminum walls and matching handrail give the box a clinical atmosphere. A light scent of disinfectant drifts across my nose. I settle in for the vertical glide. Just as I get comfortable, the elevator stops on the 4th floor, Accounting, and in walks fucking Jeanette Murphy.
The bright pink homemade knit sweater she proudly wears has a scene woven into it of cats playing with yarn that’s being played with by mice. Something about the loving goddamned circle of life.
We make a brief, uncomfortable eye contact as she turns to select her floor. Of course, she doesn’t need to select anything because we’re going to the same place, but she doesn’t know that.
Dammit I hope she doesn’t…
“Oh” she chuckled, “what a coinkydink.”
If this was Fight Club this is where Jack might pummel her face in the wall. I hate the way she says that.
“Yup” I murmur, trying to sound cheery and jovial, but not conversational. I hated her since the annual Seasonal Celebration gathering in the diner on the 10th floor. She was mildly drunk from the cheap eggnog and rambling her idiot opinion about work productivity and the amount of paper clips used. I step further back into the elevator in order to be well out of her “bubble” zone.
The doors shut and we resume our ascent. I stare towards the ground thinking peaceful thoughts of unicorns high-diving from lavender waterfalls of chocolate pleasure, trying not to count the bright “dings!” which mark the floors.
WHA-WHUMP. The elevator suddenly stopped, causing us to stumble a bit, like a heavyweight getting clocked on his jaw. The fluorescent overhead lights flicker three or four times, then stay off, and the soft glow of the emergency lights cast a yellowish glaze over the walls.
It’s been two hours. No cellphone reception, no answer on the emergency call button, and no emergency phone behind the security panel. I’m seated in the corner, facing the doors, and have already counted all the black floor buttons thirty-five times because I couldn’t think of anything else to do. Jeannette Murphy is seated across from me, in her own corner.
And Jeanette Murphy is still talking.
“I really enjoy watching Oprah’s show. Sometimes it makes me feel like I’m going to cry when she does something super nice for a very deserving family. I wish I could go to a taping. I bet I’d win something like a vacuum cleaner. That would be my luck. But still, it would be a vacuum from Oprah!”
For some reason she always giggles a little at the end of anything she says. I want to kick her teeth in.
“My cat Ethel lets me know when she’s pooped so I can clean it out for her. She’s a silly kitty.”
Another fucking giggle.
“Why do you do that?”
Do I have to answer? Jesus fucking H. Christ, why do I find myself slowly forming a response?
“Me?” I answer, just now mentally facepalming myself for asking such a stupid question in response.
“Yes you, silly goose, it’s only us in here! You’re always kind of grimacing, as if you’re bracing for a cold breeze.”
“I ate two burritos for lunch and I’m trying to hold in my farts,” I respond with the seriousness of a mortician, “because if I let one of these go I’m afraid I might shit my pants. And no matter how fucking bored I am being trapped inside of a goddamned elevator with you, it is still better than being trapped in the elevator with you and having shit in my pants.”
One hour, thirty-three minutes, and forty-nine seconds later the fireman opened the door. I had never felt so much silence for such an extended amount of time.