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    My daily writing--emails, journal entries, marginalia, more emails, blog posts, and tweets--shapes me as a writer, helping and hindering the big stuff I'm trying to accomplish. Every word counts.

    My name is James Black. I'm on Facebook and Twitter. Friend and/or follow me if you like.

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Getting Elevated

The doors shut me in the elevator. I can’t reach any of the buttons. To get into the elevator, I hoisted myself up onto the ash can that was about as high as my waist and I felt the rim of it dig into my little almost-four-year-old knees so I could poke the call button. I wanted really bad to make it light up like my Dad did after we checked into the motel.

But there’s no ash can in the elevator, just flat, brown carpeting, which can’t give me a boost. The elevator doors are shiny but dull metal, so I can only sort of see myself in them. My face looks like a blob I’ve colored with a peach crayon, and my t-shirt is red and goes way outside the lines. My reflection only reaches halfway up the doors as I stand in the middle of the elevator car, then feeling it start to sink downward, I brace myself against the rail on the fake-wood wall. The ceiling seems to be made of an eerie, bluish, buzzing light, not too bright for me to stare at.

When the doors open, there are people pushing into the elevator with legs like small trees too big for a little kid like me to dodge around. I’m not good at games about dodging or running or even hiding. I like to look at pictures and make up stories so my Mom or Grama make pleased faces or laugh. That’s all I want to do now, and I’ll never run off again if I can find them. They’re somewhere in the motel, which is in someplace called Houston, a “sweaty hell hole,” according to my Dad, where we came to visit some relative who’s getting married. I don’t know what that means except that I get to wear the suit I’ve worn the few times Mom has dragged me to church. The doors shut again.

I wonder if one of these tall people knows where my family is. A few of the strangers glance at me, but I don’t think they know I’ve been going up and down for so long by myself, or else they’d probably do something. The strangers get off. Others get on. This happens over and over, more times than I am able to count.

After hours that are minutes that only seem like hours, Mom is standing there when the doors open again. I think she doesn’t see me, but I can’t get any sound to come out of me except for a thin, squealing sound. The doors are going to shut again any second.

But she spots me, and her eyes bulge out, like eggs before you dunk them in dye. Her voice bounces around in the tiny space. “Jimmy!” I look up and see we’re on the #3 floor before she pulls me out into the place where people wait after making the button light up to get on the elevator. She kneels in front of me. “You scared the hell out of us!” The carpet here isn’t brown like in the elevator but green and gold like the neon lights in the motel sign, which has a star bigger and brighter than the one on our Christmas tree.


Also posted on my Red Room blog for Topic of the Week: My Earliest Memory.

One Response

  1. I LOVE this. Nicely done.

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