the elevator ride by mpeonies

18 Apr

“Did you hear that?” a little girl questioned me, beginning to put her arms out, as if trying to get a hold of both elevator walls. Her arms were far too short.

I heard it. This elevator was thirty-years-old, or as old as the building was. I’ve only been working in the math department for two months, so the sharp creaking of the elevator was still startling. But it had never occurred to me that something like this could happen. I had always glared at the emergency phone and wondered if I would ever use it and what sort of voice would answer when I did.

The elevator made a loud thump, and then a long screech, fading out eventually. The floor number stopped at “4”. I leaned back—or fell back, I’m not sure—onto the railings to support myself and the baby. I was seven-months pregnant and already sweating.

When it hit me that the weird feeling in my head (it happens whenever I’m going down in an elevator) stopped, I desperately searched the elevator for a sign of help. Marble floors, smudged steel walls, closed doors, paper scraps, railings, an emergency phone, a short brunette girl in a bright green coat.

“Sorry. Yes. I heard….”

Her eyes traced my belly before my face, and then quickly looked away. She stared at her feet. She was wearing the tiniest watermelon sneakers I had ever seen.

“Oh… don’t worry. Are you here to see someone?” I asked, lowering my neck.

“My dad teaches here! He tells me he’s Mr. Perton when he’s at work… Do you know Mr. Perton?”

Honestly, I had never heard the name.

“Oh yeah, Mr. Perton! He’s wonderful!” I giggled. I wondered why I had lied. The girl gave an eager nod.

“So what’s going to happen? Are we going to be stuck here for a long time? Maybe we can call someone…” she gathered her lips thoughtfully.

I scoffed at myself silently for my foolishness, and then regained my composure. “Oh! Yeah, don’t worry. I can use this phone.”

I picked up the phone and pressed the red button. It rang, the ringing was faint and almost impossible to hear. Suddenly, I heard a voice.

“Yes… um… hello? We’re stuck in an elevator in the math department. We’re on the 4th floor currently. We need some help, now!” I screamed into the phone.

The voice on the other line was a man, a very throaty voice, emotionless. But he told me “Yes, maam. We’ll get you out very soon. Please do not panic.”

So the little girl and I waited. I grew impatient quickly, letting out puffs of anger and exhaustion. I shook the railings. The girl stared and smiled sadly. She walked closely to me after a few minutes.

“Where’s your favorite place to be!” she asked, jumping toward me, bending her legs.

I entertained the silly question of the girl. “Favorite place… Favorite place… um… my grandmother’s house, on her front porch, in my chair. A table with delicious cookies that shes made riiight in front of me!”

“It works for other people too!”

“What does?”

“The favorite place question. It helps me all the time whenever I’m angry. Counting to twenty or whatever just makes me madder. But when I think about the little clubhouse I have with my friends, I always feel calm! And now you’re not all red anymore!”

It was true. I had found a sense of calm, and my mind felt clear. For the next couple of minutes, we continued to share stories—mostly I explained to her as coolly as I could about my job, and she told me all the different jobs that she wants to have when she grows up.

Soon enough, the doors stiffly opened and two men asked us if we were okay. We answered “yes”. I said goodbye to the girl, and we hugged.

“Wait, what’s your name?!” I asked her.

“Elisa! I’ll see you around!” She waved, running off in her watermelon shoes.

My husband called within a minutes, after having tried five times. I could recognize the worry in his voice within a second. I explained, trying to tell the story in as relaxed of a tone as I could.

“So we got out… me and the little girl! We’re fine. I’m fine!” I rubbed my belly. “Oh and I was wondering – what do you think of the name Elisa?

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3 Responses to “the elevator ride by mpeonies”

  1. Parenthesized April 19, 2010 at 2:09 am #

    Ah the return of Elisa. She is just as adorable in this as she was in your earlier entry.

  2. ingridfnl April 19, 2010 at 11:02 am #

    I love it. I agree with Parenthesized. She is lovely.

  3. jmforceton April 19, 2010 at 9:33 pm #

    It’s true how some little people can make such a big impression sometimes.

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