Other stories for this prompt

The button glared at her from the opposite side of the elevator. Her eyes were strained from staring at it. The harsh elevator light that made the button cool cold and hatefully professional. It made the emotions associated with the button written in neat braille and caps lock seem to be resolutely finite.

She had been standing in the elevator for too long now. It was now or never. She shook herself. Ignored the panic bubbling in her thoat, choking her, and clawing in her belly, and stood straight.

Her sweating hand pointed her slim finger straight, and she jerked...

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The acid was insanely potent this time. I was in my Halloween costume, dressed as a soldier of all things. This was no time for games. Shea was waiting for me in the basement, or maybe she was being gangraped by a pack of orthodox jewish gangsters, and waiting for me just the same. DOWN I pressed. DOWN goddamnit this is taking forever. Sitting in this elevator for what seems like an eternity. 12th floor. Man with dog. Hello dog. Why are you looking at me like that? Do I have something in my teeth. Oh, the skin is burned...

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I met my wife in an elevator, stuck between floors. We planned the rest of our lives while we waited for rescue. She wore plaid; me, my typical blue jeans and T-shirt. She was coming from work, me from school. I seem to recall it was something in her eyes. The way they watched me shift, the way they followed the movement of my lips as I explained why I was still single at 30. The deliveryman pretended not to notice us, and we thought that was the funniest thing. He stood under 5 feet tall, and for over 3...

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A life of dots was all she'd known. At first it was the small dots that appeared in the corners of her vision on sunny days. Then those dots went away as the days grew dimmer.

The next dots were the tablets the doctors gave her to "slow the loss of function."

And ever since then, dots touching fingertips, bringing meaning, sometimes memory.

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I counted the Braille dots on the "DOWN" button for the 43rd time.

Then I counted them for the 44th time.

And the 45th time...

No longer satisfied with simply counting the dots themselves (there are always 18), I was now counting my counts, which, at least, were never the same, though always increasing.

Have you ever been stuck in an elevator? Neither have I. I am inexperienced with this. I don't know what I'm supposed to do while stuck in an elevator. I don't know what other people do when stuck in an elevator. I don't know what Jesus...

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The man in the yellow shirt entered the elevator and pressed the lowest button, which was marked 'B3'. The light next to the word 'DOWN' lit up, and down we went.

"Down?" I exclaimed in confusion. "I don't want to go down. I want to go up. I pressed 31. Why is the elevator obeying you and not me? I was here first."

"It likes me better," said the yellow-shirted man.

"Why would it like you? You're ugly looking and your shirt is stupid."

"How do you know what an elevator thinks is ugly? Maybe it likes my shirt."


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To push a button. Such a simple thing. But where would it take me?


But what will be waiting for me there? Is it a place I want to go?

I thought I had hit rock bottom, but when there seemed no lower place to go, the answer is this elevator.


But maybe Down is Up. The raised letters under my fingers promised escape and newness. In a life where everything is the same and without hope, any change can be good, right? Hope as a byproduct of fear.

Nothing to lose.


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About the prompt

Originally displayed on:
November 04, 2010


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