Elevator Ride

Parents have a tendency to repeat themselves, especially when they talk about their children. Her parents were no exception. When talking about her childhood, there was this one story that they always laughed at: it was about how as a baby, she would cry from the moment she got into an elevator till the moment the ride ended. She used to smile when her parents recounted this, though she could never figure out what was funny.

She still hated elevators. They were tiny, claustrophobic and stifling. She hated the wait between floors, as if the elevator was suspended in time, while the rest of the world went on as usual. She felt empty: the kind of terrifying emptiness you feel when you know that something dreadful is going to happen, but it hasn’t happened yet; and you’re waiting, tired of the sickening anticipation and yet, wishing that it would never end. When people talked about souls, she pictured an elevator as its antonym: empty and enclosed. She hated elevators because they made her feel empty, even when she smiled to shake off the feeling; even when she stepped out of it.

She still took the elevator, though. In one of the magazines her mother read, she found an article which cautioned that riding an elevator was always safer for women than climbing the stairs. So she stuck to it, even though her heart quaked until she stepped out.

The day her father died, she felt like she was stuck in an elevator. She knew she was supposed to scream, to cry, to tear her hair out; but she felt suspended in time, her mind weighing her down with the anticipation of tears that would come, of emotions that she would feel. She was stuck in an elevator: empty, enclosed. She couldn’t get out. She couldn’t feel. She couldn’t cry. All she could do was wait.

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