a person pressing white elevator button

Three People. One Elevator

A study in serial POV. Flash Fiction — 28 Days of Stories

Dan pinned his feet to the floor as he stood in front of the elevator. 33, 32, come on, no stops, no whammies, get to one get to one get to one. He looked at his watch again. 9:03. Would he be considered late? Did he get a 10-minute grace period for being the guy whose Lyft driver was the biggest idiot in Manhattan? He pushed the UP button again. 11, 10, 9. Come on 1.

Isla cruised through the front doors and skimmed her badge over the reader. The elevator was nearly at one, but that jittery ball of nerves pushing the UP button like it was a Pez dispenser certainly needed to chill. Was her parting shot to Rick cruel this morning? Sure, she loves him, but she wasn’t going to be the one to make one more decision about the remodel she never wanted in the first place and bear the brunt of his abysmal disappointment when it wasn’t precisely what he did want but didn’t know how to ask for. She looked in the mirrored elevator panel and flipped her hair over her shoulder just as the door slid open.

Dan jerked forward as the doors finally opened but heard an abrupt, “Excuse me!” that stopped him in his tracks. His head and eyes snapped up in time to see a woman with a gigantic mail cart coming out of the elevator. He didn’t smile so much as involuntarily pinch his cheeks up as he dipped his head down and jumped aside. Must look like a madman, he thought. It took forever for the damned cart to get out. As soon as it did, he rushed inside and pushed 33 twice then once more. That was the rule, right? Pushing a button more than once made the doors close faster?

Isla stepped into the elevator. The Pez dispenser pushing of the button from the guy was in progress as she slid her hand on the panel and pressed 20 once, then slipped to the wall in between Pez dispenser guy and the buttons. She heard the familiar strike of mens shoes stepping quickly and someone say, “Hold the door,” so she pushed the DOOR OPEN button and held it. In the mirrored panels she could see Pez dispenser guy, his eyes wide as he glared at her fingers holding the DOOR OPEN button. Rick looked like that this morning, too, when she threw the iPad down on the counter without signing the change request.

Brad half-jogged into the elevator. He smiled at the pretty older lady who held the door for him and nodded. He didn’t use his right hand to push the floor button. He reached to use his left. His left hand which had the new ring on it. He used his ring finger to push 15. The ring was white gold with a lapis inlay. Tim was wearing the same ring today, finally. For the love of God, it took him long enough to ask. Brad stepped back and crossed his hands in front of him, left on top. This ring that was so important to him. The ring everyone on his team would be so happy about. The ring he would have to explain to his boss. Brad remembered his boss’s face when Brad brought Tim to the Christmas party. His boss is old-fashioned. His boss is why HR still exists. Other people’s judgement were always a shadow over things that made him happy.

Dan stared at the numbers going up. 11, 12, come on 33. Goddammit this has got to be the slowest god forsaken elevator in this goddamn building. He looked at his watch again. 9:06. Hold the door, hold the door and she just does it? Stupid Lyft driver. I should have been here 15 minutes ago so I could have been drinking coffee casually in a chair. But no. I’m the one who has to be late when I’ve been out of a job for two months and this is the first interview I’ve landed.

Isla looked at the reflections of the two men in the small space and rolled her eyes imperceptibly. Pez dispenser guy for sure was late for something. Floor 15 arrived, and Hold the Door guy straightened his shoulders and stepped off the elevator like he was walking onto a runway. Own it, Isla thought as she watched him through the closing doorsPez dispenser guy just stood there looking like he needed to scream and couldn’t.

The elevator dinged at floor 20. Isla paused briefly as she stepped forward, glanced back, slipped her hand to the buttons, and slid them down 29 through 32. As the door closed, she heard a mix of screaming and swearing from Pez Dispenser Guy. She smiled the same smug way she had earlier when she walked out of the house.

“What’s up today, Harry?” Isla asked as she passed her assistant and went into her office.

“You’ve got an interview in 10 minutes up on 33.”

Isla smiled as she dropped her bag on her credenza.


About Christine Wilcox Anderson

Writer, former corporate communications exec, and perpetual student of life on this rock.
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