Elevator to the Twenty-Fourth


The elevator stops with a pleasant chime. I look down at my feet; they’re in two little shoes with pink bows.

There’s a whole world behind the doors that pull apart. In fact, there are two. One is filled to the brim with the laughter of kids and their mischief. I’m a good girl, I have always been, so I’ll keep to myself. In the other world I see home, and that one is brimming with my screams, because there are bad thoughts inside my head, and I am only as evil as they are, no matter how gentle the distraction of my mother’s perfume is. It is quiet at home, and I feel loved and cared for. But I am broken, and I deserve the unnaturally sinister sneers of little girls, as they look my way and whisper and laugh, and laugh and laugh, until I can bear it no longer, and I crumble and fall apart, and open my eyes back in that same box.

I look down at my feet again. This time, they’re in sneakers. My shoes are a little worn and tattered, but I’m bigger, and more grounded. The chime leads me to a dark place lit by tiny yellow lights and a carousel. Not unpleasant, but oddly comforting. It looked like a carnival, but it’s behind an invisible barrier beyond the doors. I muster up my courage, and cross over, and it’s bustling and warm, and the air carries the scent of candied apples in it. I hear my friends in the carousel, so I join. I spin along, savoring the carelessness, and laugh along with my friends, and there’s a world out there, and a life to be lived, but I can’t be bothered. I’m enjoying my time enough to spoil me rotten. But then, a call pulls me out; that I can’t go on like this. It’s a too-pleasant dream, and awareness draws your dreams to their end. There are struggles to overcome, and strength to be gained, and a life to be lived.

So this time, I find my way back on my own two feet, in the tattered sneakers that have become more worn. The elevator chimes, and behind the doors is the ocean, the very dark depths of it. I don’t find it threatening because I am ignorant. So I pass through the invisible barrier at the doors, first with my fingertips, then my hands, then my whole body.

It is not terrible at first. I suppose that I am still a little skewed, maybe not quite right. But it won’t get so bad. So I let the water consume me, bit by bit, grab hold of my fragile mind, and crush me inside out. It is deep, and I am suffocating and there’s no air in my lungs, and my voice can’t push anything out. I can’t say it because I’m drowning.

A hand pulls me back into the box this time, and I’m soaking and shivering and worn. My feet are bare, because I didn’t think I would escape, but that gentle perfume I can recognize. The elevator leads me back to the ocean sometimes, but I stand and resist when it happens, because I’m not falling again.

At least, I’m trying to.

The chime takes me to an all-white wall, and puts me in black kitten-heels. I trace my palms on that wall and walk along its side. I find a gap; the wall is a maze.

In the white maze I stumble and fall, and get lost more times that I can count. Others find their ways out easily, I think, and I have to remind myself that it is not always how it appears. But I can’t help it, and it eats me up, that comparison, and that desperate feeling of falling behind. I’m losing, and only pretending that I’m not, and I am clueless about the way out, or what sits at the very end. I’m dreading the next fall, or the next loss, and sometimes it’s not too bad because it really isn’t a race.

But today my eyes stung and my tears filled them all the way up, then they overflowed and burned down my cheeks. I can’t find the strength to fight them, but I think I’ve found something else. I’ve found the stairs, and I’ll kick these shoes off and run up and stumble and fall. There’s a purpose to be found, and a life to be lived, and I will soon learn not to fear any of it.


It’s ya girl’s birthday, and I cried out of existential dread, but had to write a little something here to celebrate (?) or to actually remind you guys to wish me a happy one. I hope someone takes the time to express what they’ve interpreted from all of this πŸ™‚

20 thoughts on “Elevator to the Twenty-Fourth

  1. I think this piece talks about the different phases of life of a young lady. It shows her insecurities as a child, and how she always found solace in the only place where she’s loved and cared for -home.

    It shows the few careless happy moments she had as a teenager- those were her escape moments from the real world – and somehow the real world is impossible to break free from, and so she drifts back there, because in the real world “there are struggles to be overcome, and strength to be gained, and a life to be lived”.

    Lastly, it shows her present life and her determination to push forward, despite the countless number of falls and stumbles. She would soon find a purpose and a life to be lived, and she will learn never to fear any of it.
    Happy Birthday girl. Just came across your blog and I’m in absolute love with it. Hope my interpretation makes a bit of sense?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Hey, first of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAYY TO YOU!!

    Secondly, I am a little on the fence about this but I felt like the mother died very early into the life of the young girl whom we see grow into different phases. I got that um her struggles varied. Even though at one time she found joy, she really did, it didn’t last because she was meant to gain much more strength.

    She struggles to keep sane, and once tries to let go. But that is a failed attempt and now she can control the urge better and in the end, it’s just that she is learning, and just growing. She finally is able to let go of all her baggage from all these years and set free into the world, hopeful and dreamy.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I like the intricacy of this story! Definitely getting the feel that it is a life’s journey, each ding a phase of it – the adventure of youth, entrance into a cold harsh world and the determination to navigate it after a few falls. Very well written, Maryam! And Happy YOU Day!! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Impressive take on the stages of your life thus far as an elevator journey. I’d like to spend more time doing some closer reading to get a little more out of it. I am especially intrigued by the white maze in kitten heels. Stepping into adulthood and all the sexy, scary ramifications of purity (white), confusion (maze), and living up to society’s expectations (being trapped in that maze)? All guesswork here. The ocean struck me as that “little fish in a big sea” sense most of us have in puberty/high school. I may be completely off base. Nice to read something that works to stretch the reader rather than handing it all to us.

    That’s the fun thing about close reading creative writing (fiction or non-fiction), the writer can put whatever they like into it and the reader can get whatever they like out of it but it’s still a collaboration. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I think the theme is fear or, more precisely, overcoming fear.

    I was intrigued at the initial dichotomy, the two worlds, and that family seems to be both an agent of comfort as well as an agent of discombobulation.

    Many happy returns of the day.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s