Overheard in the Elevator
Ever had to talk to someone with spinach in their teeth? Carol Anne Shaw takes Lawrence Hill's second writing challenge.
What would happen in your story?
Put two people in an elevator. It is stuck on the 31st floor of an office tower. It has been stuck for 20 minutes and there is no sign of help yet. Begin the scene with a conversation at Minute 21 in the elevator. A page will do. These two people do not like each other.
Jesus Christ, hasn’t he ever heard of dental floss?
There is a good four feet between Garrett and I, but I can clearly see spinach stuck between several of his protruding teeth as he sucks at them with his tongue. Spanikopita would be my guess, if the garlic is anything to go by.
I check my watch again. 4:42. The button panel in front of me is lit up like a freaking Christmas tree.
“Think we’ll ever get out?” Garrett asks. He’s picking at his teeth with a dirty thumbnail. I look up at the six-paneled ceiling above our heads. There is a large stain in one corner.
“Think we’ll be on 31 forever?”
“That a yes?”
“It was a grunt.”
“A “yes” grunt, or a “no” grunt.”
Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.
But he won’t shut up until I give him an answer. It’s Garrett.
“Yeah. We’ll get out.”
“Sure hope so. I’d like to get out for a run tonight.”
Yeah. Good idea. Run straight to the dentist.
“You got plans tonight, Jessie?”
“I have some work to do,” I tell him. Why do I tell him this? I take my thumb and push the button at the bottom of the panel six hundred times.
“Really? No date? No boyfriend?”
No way. Not biting.
“Guess not,” I say. I can feel him staring at me for longer than is polite.
“You ready for tomorrow?" he asks.
"Really? Cause you seem, I dunno...kind of uptight lately.”
I envision being stuck here all night. Then I envision the elevator cable snapping -- our thirty-one-floor plunge to certain death. Which fate would be worse?
“You don't seem fine.” Garrett stares at my hips. I look down and tug at the side of my skirt. It’s too tight. I haven’t been to the gym in months. “You hitting the carbs, Jessie? Cos’ that’s stress eating, you know. That whole carb thing. You gotta learn to handle pressure if you want to play with the big guns.”
My heart beats faster. I will the green arrow above the elevator door to wake up and begin its descent. It doesn’t.
“Guess you heard, eh? About them picking Kingswell to oversee tomorrow?”
“ Kingswell?” My heart jackhammers.
“Yeah. Sucks, eh? The guy's a tool.”
“What...what happened to George?” My stomach twists. My face burns.
“George? Hah! He forgot he was scheduled for a colonoscopy tomorrow. Couldn’t rebook.” Garrett crosses his arms across his chest. He’s still looking at my hips.
“So Kev’s taking the reins in the morning.”
Kevin, “I-want-you-more-than-I’ve-ever-wanted-anyone,” Kingswell? The Sunday-morning-here’s-your-waffles-in-bed Kevin?
“I hear the Kevster is pretty tight with Kimberley from accounting these days.”
“Jesus! That dude's got horseshoes up his ass. That Kim is smokin’!”
I stare at the ceiling stain some more.
“I hear they’re real, too...if you know what I’m sayin’.”
Yeah. I knew what he was saying. I understood perfectly.