a conversation between floors by juleshg

18 Apr

“Shoot, I have to get this,” Jason looked apologetically at Lisa as she hit the up button on the elevator.  He tried to juggle his briefcase and reach for the cell phone in his pocket without spilling his unopened coffee cup.

With a sigh Lisa reached over and grabbed the hot cup to give Jason a free hand.  “Look, we are going to be late.  I’ll go up ahead to the office.  You take your call and meet me up in suite 510 when you are done. “

“Thanks,” he said blowing her a kiss as she stepped onto the elevator.

Lisa walked to the back wall of the small car and leaned against the mirror before noticing that she still had both coffee cups.  Great, she thought, I am only a few weeks pregnant and I am already getting absent-minded.

“Thirsty?”

Lisa looked over at the older lady standing on the other side of the elevator and smiled.  “No, just tired, really tired.  I…”

Before she could finish her sentence the two ladies were shaken by a sudden stop of the car and a flash of the lights overhead.

“Are you OK?” Lisa asked the older lady who was clutching elevator rail in an effort to stay balanced.

“Oh, I’m fine dear.  How are you?”

“I’m good.”  Lisa crouched down to put her purse and the coffee cups on the floor before crossing the elevator to open the emergency panel.  It was an old building with a beat up phone and she lifted the receiver to see if she could get help.  After a few minutes chatting with the security guard downstairs Lisa hung up the phone and turned to her companion.

“Well, good news and bad news.  The bad news is that it will take at least 30 minutes to get someone here to fix the elevator.”

“Oh dear, the good news…?”

“We have two fresh cups of hot coffee.  Can I help you down to the floor?  We may as well get comfortable.”

The older lady smiled and laughed.  “Thank you dear.  My name is Margaret and coffee sounds delightful.”

“Hi, Margaret.  I’m Lisa.”

The older lady chuckled quietly as she settled down on the floor and stretched out her thin legs.  “My daughter Rose is going to be having a fit downstairs.  She is always telling me how busy she is and about all of the appointments she has to re-arrange just to take me out of the nursing home for a few hours.   I almost feel sorry for the repairman who has to listen to her while trying to get the elevator running again.”

“Jason will be on his case too.  He already had a really busy day planned and had to move two meetings just to get here for this appointment, let alone an extra half hour while they spring me from the elevator.”

The two women laughed and toasted with their paper cups.

“So, what brings you out today, Lisa?”

“I’m pregnant,” Lisa said looking down at her cup.

“I am sensing that may not be the best news,” Margaret said quietly.  “I don’t mean to pry but I am a stranger on an elevator and completely impartial.  Who better to tell your secrets too?  Plus, I have been around the block a few times myself.”

Lisa looked up with a grin.  “I think I’m more shocked than anything.  Jason, the baby’s father, is thrilled.  I wasn’t planning to have a baby for a few more years and now I feel like I am in a run-away cart that is heading downhill and picking up speed.  Everything is out of control.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“I don’t know.  I’ll get married I guess,” Lisa said with a shrug.  “Jason is a nice guy and he’ll be a great dad.  He has been wanting to get married for a while now and I’ve been stalling.  My mom will be thrilled to see me married to a successful lawyer but will be horrified that I’m ‘knocked up’.”

Margaret cackled.

“In my day, a woman in your situation was either sent away to live with relatives out-of-town or in a white dress at an altar within the week.  That’s what happened to me.”

“Really?”

“Oh yes,” Margaret said with a smile.  “I was in love with a lovely man named Alfred but his parents hated me.  It broke my heart when he moved away to take another job and I poured out my heart to a very nice boy named Peter who had always had a crush on me. “

Lisa smiled as the other woman blushed.  She gave her a light poke with her elbow encouraging her to go on with the story.

“Peter was a dear man and was so kind to me.  At first I was just trying not to hurt his feelings but before I knew it, I realized that I was a little sweet on him too.  We had not known each other for very long but one night we went out and one thing lead to another…. Well, I guess I don’t have to explain it to you.”

Lisa laughed at the teasing.  “Did you marry him?”

“Oh yes.  Peter was not the sort of man who would have stepped away from his responsibilities.  When I told him about the baby he went right to my parents and asked for my hand.  We eloped to Niagara Falls the next day and I had Rose seven months later.”

“Were you happy?”  Lisa stared at the other woman intently.  Margaret saw desperation in her eyes:  like a drowning woman watching for a lifeboat.

Margaret reached over and put her hand on Lisa’s knee. “We were married for fifty years and I loved him dearly.”

Lisa took a deep breath and sighed.   “I don’t know if I can do it,” she confessed.  “I don’t know if I can just get married and live happily ever after.”

You don’t have to my dear.  It’s a different world than when I was in your shoes.  Maybe it was easier for me not having to choose.  Looking back I don’t know what I would have done if I would have been given an option.”  Margaret shook her head.  “I don’t envy you.”

Once again the lights flickered and Lisa and Margaret felt the elevator begin to move.

As the doors opened the women looked out to find Rose and Jason waiting frantically on the ground floor and Margaret gave Lisa’s hand a squeeze.

********

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3 Responses to “a conversation between floors by juleshg”

  1. Parenthesized April 19, 2010 at 2:13 am #

    I enjoyed the dialogue in this piece. Great job!

  2. ingridfnl April 19, 2010 at 11:06 am #

    This was a delightful read. Well done. 🙂 I love it.

  3. jmforceton April 19, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

    A great thoughtful piece. Well done.

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