What people do by Stephanie McGrath
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.
“I’m just going to sit down for a minute, is that cool?”
“I won’t stretch out or anything, you’ll still have lots of room.”
“Yep. That’s fine.”
The sound of corduroy-clad legs rubbing together. The cracking of a knee joint.
“Could you press Door Open for me again? I know it won’t do anything, but I mean maybe we didn’t press it hard enough last time.”
“No. It’s fine. Here.”
A soft ding with no purpose.
“Thanks. Still nothing though. Sorry.”
“Not your fault.”
“No, I know it isn’t. I just was you know being polite. It’s what people do.”
“Right, like how saying ‘Wednesday Humpday!’ is what people do.”
“Well yes, they do. I do too. What’s wrong with that?”
“Nothing I guess.”
“It seems like you kind of think there is something wrong with that.”
“It’s fine. It’s fine that people say ‘Wednesday Humpday!’ and “Got a case of the Mondays’ and ‘Warm enough out there for you?’ It’s great.”
“Really? Great? Seems like you don’t think so.”
“I do. I think it’s great. I think the new Royal baby is great too. I think what they’ve done to the waterfront is great. All of the things you talk about are great. They’re great to talk about. That’s a great baby name. The waterfront looks great. The weather has been great this summer. It’s all great.”
“Well I could not talk at all. Would that be great? We could sit here, pushing a button. Nothing would keep happening and we would keep not talking. That would be great, wouldn’t it? Would that be fine?”
“Yes. That. Would. Be. Great. Great and fine even.”
“Great and fine.”
He folds his arm in front of his chest and sighs through his teeth.
She stares at the numbers on the wall. If they would start counting downward, everything would be great.