(4 minute read)
by Roland Gray
A lift opened with barely a whisper. M looked up long enough to register that the interior was empty then dropped her head back on the cushion, made by her arms and knees, as she sat opposite. The lift sighed close and carried on its way; up or down, M neither knew nor cared.
A chime sounded discreetly announcing the arrival and imminent departure of the other lift, playing tag with its twin, up and down, ships passing in the night but never stopping to say hello. M wondered about the odds of two lifts arriving at the 14th floor in quick succession with no passengers and without being called. That this had happened so many times made a mockery of the laws of probability.
The doors of this lift parted to reveal a splendid example of carefully balanced functionality and welcoming ambience. Three sides were mirrored with discreet illumination, the colour scheme was muted pastels and the carpet displayed a warm but subtle abstract pattern.
M noted the changes. The last time this lift had turned up, the carpet had been plain and the paintwork bright. The mirrors are bigger on this one, she thought, but there’s no muzak.
Tears welled up after the lift departed. M tried hard not to cry, or give any emotion away while a lift was stopped at that floor, but once it had gone control gave way for a while. She wasn’t sure whether she was crying from grief, apprehension, sheer frustration or abject helplessness; or more likely, a combination of them all.
A chime heralded the arrival of another lift. The doors slid back revealing yet again an empty space, empty of any physical object that is, but full of sound, the annoying tuneless airs of muzak.
M looked up and stared through the doors, even more uneasy after this revelation. She leaned over slightly for a better view inside but the lift was still empty. The doors closed again and the lift went on its way. This time she watched the indicator panel above the lift and noted it was going down.
She sobbed and tears flowed. Another lift arrived and departed, but she paid it no attention. She was beginning not to care. What can I do? She thought, how could he leave me here?
A few minutes passed and M regained some composure. As she wiped away a sniffle she noticed the lift coming down, and waited for the chime.
The door slid smoothly open, no muzak this time, but as she looked past the door her heart leapt. She could see him standing in the lift, smiling and beckoning her to join him.
She scrambled up and rushed into the lift, to be swallowed up as the doors snapped shut behind her.
Copyright © 2021 – Roland Gray. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Roland is father, grandfather, carer, dog’s servant, chauffeur, answering to “canyoujust”, “wouldyoumind”, “Grandaaad” and pleading looks with only the occasional grumble.
His introverted mind is cursed with hyperactive imagination forming so many alternative worlds that coming back to reality is chastening.
Hence lots of cynical short stories, but no novel.
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