This story is by EJ Flynn and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
As a general rule, I go to the bathroom before I get into any elevator, “just in case”. Well, of course, today…
At first, we all stood still waiting for the elevator to start up again. After two minutes, yes just two, you could feel the panic brewing.
“So, who wants to hit the big red button?” I broke the silence.
Everyone laughed. Not sure if it was nervous or pity laughter.
Tall Guy to Irish Dude, “you’re closest.”
“Um, okay,” Irish Dude pressed the button. A loud ringing sounded. Irish Dude put his hands in the air.
We sunk back into our respective corners.
Tall Guy took his cell phone out. “No bars.”
“Wishing you got the 4G instead, huh?” I joked awkwardly.
“Do you have 4G?” Pretty Blonde finally spoke.
“Yes, but my cell phone is on my desk.”
A collective sigh.
“Do you have a cell phone?” Tall Guy looked at Pretty Blonde.
“Oh yeah, I do!” She fished it out of her purse.
I wished I had my purse. It had great stuff in it. My Kindle, my phone, even a mini handheld Bop-It. What I wouldn’t do for my Bop-It.
“No bars for me either.”
“What the hell? We’re in an elevator not underground,” Tall Guy was getting agitated.
“I don’t have my phone. I was going to grab lunch and bring it back to my desk. I didn’t think I would need it.” Irish Guy shook his head.
“Fascinating story.” Tall Guy was definitely agitated.
“What are we gonna do?” Pretty Blonde sounded genuinely freaked out.
“We’re not the only ones hearing this alarm. I mean the big red button is supposed to alert someone, right?” I said not really sure myself.
“What if we’re stuck in here forever?”
“Don’t be ridiculous!”
Why was Pretty Blonde further agitating Tall Guy?
“I think we should all calm down.” Irish dude chimed in.
“She’s the only one freaking out.” Tall Agitated Guy pointed at Pretty Pouting Blonde.
“So um, anyone see any good movies lately?” I asked to lighten the mood.
“I saw The Hobbit.” Irish Dude seemed really excited to share this.
“Yeah? How was it?” I welcomed the conversation over paying attention to Pretty Hyperventilating Blonde and Silently Brooding Tall Guy. Anything to keep my mind off my very full bladder.
“It was good.”
I waited for him to continue. Nothing.
That’s it? The movie was three years long!
The ringing stopped.
“What does that mean?” It was Pretty Panicking Blonde.
“Hopefully, that somebody knows we’re stuck in here.” Tall Guy seemed to soften a bit.
We waited in silence.
Three agonizing minutes went by when Pretty Blonde turned into Completely Freaking Out Blonde.
“Help! Somebody help us!” She screamed.
“Jesus! What’s wrong with you?”
She didn’t seem to hear Tall Super Angry Guy and kept on shouting.
I looked at Irish dude. He looked paler than a normal Irishman.
Pretty Crying Blonde was now crumpled up in a ball in her corner. Tall Somewhat Angry Guy was waving his cell phone around trying to magically connect with a cell tower. Paling Irish Dude loosened his tie, took off his jacket sitting on it.
I sat in my corner. Then the lights went out.
“Oh great.” Tall Angry Guy went to his flashlight app illuminating the space.
“Well, at least you don’t need a signal for that!” Me again.
Tall Not Angry Anymore Guy placed his phone in the center of the elevator and we sat around it like a high tech campfire.
I wondered what they were calling me in their heads. Snarky Asian Chick?
Apparently, as the only one who didn’t like silence, I spoke again.
“So, anyone else have to pee?”
Much to my surprise, they all laughed. They laughed heartily. I started to laugh too making my need to go to the bathroom worse. At least it broke the tension. It was entirely possible we were going to be stuck there for a while. Having Tall Agitated Guy and Pretty Freaked Out Blonde was not going to work.
Irish Dude had his color back.
Once the laughter stopped, silence threatened again. I asked another question.
“Well, I’m going straight to the bathroom when we get out of here, what about you Tall Guy?”
“I’m going to get a 4G phone.”
“And you Irish Dude?” I hoped my nicknames wouldn’t offend anyone, they were pretty on the nose.
“I’m going to propose to my girlfriend.”
This was met by hoots, whistles, and congratulations.
“I’m going to quit my job.” Pretty Blonde answered unprompted.
This was met with silence.
Way to bring down the room Pretty Downer Blonde.
“Where do you work?” Tall Guy asked.
“I’m in accounts/receivable on the third floor, I hate it.”
She certainly didn’t look like a numbers gal.
“What do you want to do?” Irish Dude asked this time.
“I would rather do something where I get to meet people, even greet people. I like talking and well, I look like this, I’m wasted in the back looking at numbers all day.”
I rolled my eyes giving her a new nickname, Stuck Up Blonde.
“Maybe they like the work you do and aren’t looking at how pretty you are, maybe they don’t care about that. That’s a good thing isn’t it?” I asked looking at her, she was pouting again.
“Of course you would say that. That’s the way you need people to think.”
“Now, what the hell is that supposed to mean?” She earned yet another nickname, Stuck Up Bitch.
“Okay ladies,” Tall Guy interjected.
I wanted to slam her pretty face into the elevator doors until they opened.
“I’ll have you know, I am in marketing and I deal with people face to face all day and if they were too busy looking at a big rack and perfect ass, we wouldn’t be very productive.”
Stuck Up Bitch was pouting again and had nothing to say back.
I had a lot more I wanted to say but I suddenly felt like the carbon dioxide would take over the oxygen.
“So, Tall Guy, what else are you going to do when you get out of here? Anything life changing like Irish Dude?”
“Nah, I’m pretty happy with my life, other than my phone of course.”
Okay, Tall Guy, we get it, joke’s over now.
“What about you, Asian Chick? Anything life-changing for you?” Irish Dude asked shifting his position. I laughed. So, they had come up with a name for me.
“I’m going to publish my book.”
“Well, that’s pretty cool, what’s it about?” Tall Guy also shifted his position.
Stuck Up Bitch stayed silent.
“I’ll tell you but you have to promise you’ll buy it when it comes out.”
“Only if you promise you’ll sign it,” Tall Guy was smiling.
“I want mine signed too!” Irish Dude cheered.
Cool, there’s at least two guaranteed sales. I wasn’t holding my breath for Stuck Up Bitch.
“It’s a psychological thriller about a serial killer. Takes place during Christmas.”
“What’s it called?” Irish Dude seemed really excited about knowing an author.
“How many people does he kill?” Tall Guy leaned forward interested.
“Define, a lot.”
“78 are found.”
“That’s disgusting!” Stuck Up Bitch decided it was time to speak again. I ignored her, as did the men. A win for me.
“Sounds like something I would read.” I loved that Tall Guy wanted to know more. Not knowing anything about him I sensed he might be able to help in some way.
“I want to release it on 12/12/12.”
“I can tell you’re in marketing.”
Tall Guy sounded a lot more knowledgeable to me.
“What do you do, Tall Guy?”
“Well, incidentally, I work at Eagle Publishing, tenth floor.”
“You should totally help her!” Irish Dude exclaimed.
“How does he know it’s any good?” Stuck Up Bitch was determined to rain on my parade.
“I have to read it. Send it to me, here’s my card, I’ll read it tonight. We’d have to act quickly if you want to meet your release date.”
I took his card. ‘Executive Director of Book Acquisitions’.
“I’ll send it as soon as I get back to my desk.”
Suddenly, the lights of the elevator turned back on. We moved and stopped at the next floor. Four strangers stuck in an elevator for what seemed like days but was actually under an hour.
We all got up, looking at one another a little differently. In silence, we turned to face the doors as they slowly slid open.