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Writing Challenge

The Rhinoceros by Matt McTaggart

Have you ever spent time with a stuffed rhinoceros? Matt McTaggart, from Kingston On, tackles Lawrence Hill's second writing challenge.

Send us your elevator story. You have until 10 AM on August 21st to get it to us.

The building's freight elevator was deep and tall and stopped between the thirty first and thirty second floors. Inside a bank of fluorescent lights  lit the steel ceiling well and the plywood floor poorly. In the centre stood a white rhinoceros, taxidermied, on a platform. The man and woman sat on either side of the rhinoceros: the woman nearer the head, the man at the tail, having closed the gates behind them. It was very hot and the repairman from Pickering would come in forty minutes. He had been called when the elevator stopped twenty minutes earlier.

"When you decide to get into a little room with a rhinoceros you don't expect to be there long, but I guess sometimes it happens,"said the woman.

The man wiped his forehead. "Elevators aren't rooms. A room you stay in. You're supposed to leave elevators, rhino or no."

"I'd love to."

"It'll be a quick fix. You'll see," the man said. "They'll bring us up to the door, get this thing out of the way, and we'll live happily ever after."

"And I'll go home." The woman said. She placed her hand on the rhinoceros' unyielding hide. 

"He's so tough. But warm, like he's alive."

"He was dead a long time before you saw him. Dead and hollowed out."

"He seems alive, that's what's important."

"You're lucky he's dead. If he were alive he'd do a lot worse than keep you stuck."

The woman felt along its neck, jaw, and down its soft looking mouth. She saw herself reflected darkly in its small glass eye.

"I hate feeling trapped,"

"Uh huh."

"It's different."

"It's no different." The man tried to look at her around the heavy flesh. "I can't even see you with this thing in the way."

"What do you want me to do? I can't get past it. Not even if I wanted to."

The man tapped his feet on the floor.

"So what do you want me to do?"

The man did not say anything.

"Nothing? You want me to do nothing."

"I want you - "

"Just stop, ok? It's too hot."

"I want - well I'm trapped too."

"And doesn't that bother you?"

"Yes, but I can wait. Good things come to those who wait."

"No they don't."

"Sure they do."

"No, they don't."

"The best things."

"Things don't just happen. Sometimes the doors close and stay closed."

"No, it won't 'just happen', that's why I called for help."

"We'll see."

The man did not say anything but turned and took hold of the canvas webbing he had used to pull the gate closed. He looked again at the controls that had failed him. He pressed the button beside the grate he had spoken into for help. It crackled and the building manager asked how they were doing.

"Are you still alright?" the man called back.

The woman leaned her head against the rhino's shoulder."I'm fine."

"We're fine," the man said into the grate. "Tired of waiting, but we're doing fine."

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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