The rustling noise of people packing up their belongings drags my mind back into focus. I look at the clock on the wall. 5:03, time to go home. I rub my tired eyes and stare at my desktop for a few seconds before closing the tabs and logging out. This was the longest day of my life, I think to myself, as I’ve thought many times before. The record for longest day seems to be broken each Monday. Good for Monday, always challenging itself to break its own record. Wish I had that motivation

My tired thoughts are interrupted by a pat on my back. I turn to see Adam standing behind me, tie loosened around his slightly unbuttoned shirt.

“See you tomorrow, bud.” He says while lifting his hand.

“Sure thing, man.” I meet his hand for a high-five and watch as he walks away, throwing a wink at the receptionist and disappearing into the elevator. 

Over the years I’ve perfected my “bro” persona. I don’t mind having guy friends, I just feel like I have to act straighter than a ruler around them to avoid ridicule. That might be some leftover trauma from high school but hey, therapy’s expensive. 

The office empties quickly while I’m still shuffling my papers and shoving them haphazardly into my bag. What rush do I have to get home? Not like anyone’s waiting for me there anyway. 

Besides a couple flings in college, I’ve never really had a steady relationship. I’d unpack the reasons why that might be but, again, I can’t afford a therapist on a low-level pharmaceutical rep’s salary. And not a good pharm rep, might I add. I don’t have the straight guy charisma or charming female body for it. 

I finally push in my chair and go to grab my cell from where it was charging in the break room. 

Fuck, you’re kidding.

I stare at the screen that stares back at me in all black with a dead battery symbol in the middle. Pissed, I follow the chord back to the outlet behind the microwave and find that someone unplugged me to plug in the microwave. Is a cup of noodles really distracting enough for you to forget to plug me back in?!

I sigh as I leave the room, turning off the light with a smack. A small act of defiance is all I can muster at this point. 

Walking back into the cubicle jungle, I realize I’m the only one left. Fine by me, I already said bye to the only person in the office that ever acknowledges me. 

Is it this job that makes you feel worthless, or are you just coming to terms with the reality that you are worthless?

I trudge towards the elevators and hit the button with a little residual defiance. 

An elevator approaches my floor as I watch the numbers. My number illuminates, then disappears as the elevator moves onto the next floor. 

Great, even the elevator doesn’t see me.

Finally, a different elevator arrives with a “ding” and I drag myself in. I hit “lobby” and impatiently press the “close door” button a couple times, hoping my lethargy will be stuck on the other side of the doors. 

Pulling out my phone, I give it a couple more test clicks, hoping by some miracle it’ll find the will to live again. It doesn’t, of course.

I’m still staring at the screen when the elevator shudders to a stop. 

That seemed quick, I think as I replace my phone in my pocket.

Stunned, I stare at where the floor number should be illuminated on the wall above the buttons. 

Where’s the number? 

No way. No way, no way, no way, there is no fucking way.

As if hearing my thoughts, the lights on the buttons disappear as well, and finally the overhead light goes out. 

Before I know it, I’m trapped in the dark, with nothing but myself, and a dead phone. 

“Hey!” I yell with a panicked voice crack.

“Hey, is anyone there?” My shaking hands pound the door.

“HEY, I’M STUCK IN HERE!” No response.

Feeling the walls closing on me, I back up until I feel the wall behind me. In silent darkness, I press my back against it and slide to the floor, hugging my knees to my chest. 

This can’t be happening. Please. This cannot be happening.

I feel around for my backpack and pour the contents onto my lap, hoping by some miracle I find a flashlight that I know doesn’t exist. 

My breathing shallows as I remember my dead phone in my pocket.

I’m going to murder whoever unplugged my phone to plug in the fucking microwave.

I convince myself that someone is bound to realize the elevator is stuck soon. I can’t possibly be the only person in this entire building. Right? 

As I sit on the floor and assess my situation, my mind starts to race. 

There are no distractions here. Nothing to pull my mind away from the fact that no one really cares about me. How did I get here? Even if my phone was charged, who would I even call? Adam? And risk him hearing me being emotional and knowing my secret? My mom maybe. But she doesn’t like when I call her while she’s with my dad. It makes him angry. I guess the police. But they probably don’t want to hear from me. Or maybe they’d be mad at me. What the fuck is wrong with me? I can’t even allow myself to be vulnerable to the police, who are complete strangers to me and do this kind of thing for a living. Straight strangers, though. 

God, I’m helpless. And worthless. And spineless. I guess I’m just overall “less” than other people. Why do I even try to convince myself that I’m not? Why do I force myself to get out of bed in the morning and go about my day like a normal person when I’m not. I’m less than that. I have no impact on anyone or anything, it’s like I’m invisible! 

Like right now. Sitting here in the dark. Completely invisible to everyone, including myself. 

I feel a tear slide down my cheek. Feeling it trail a line down my skin angers me. 

Fuck this. Why should I have to feel like this? Why should I accept myself this way when other people never did? Maybe… maybe they knew I was weak and that’s why they came after me. Maybe if I was strong, they’d know not to fuck with me! Strong. Brave. Gay. 

I deserve to be happy! I deserve to meet people and be myself without worrying that they wouldn’t accept me if they knew who I really was! I deserve to find someone to wait for me everyday after work and be happy to see me when I walk in the door! I deserve… more. 

That’s it. I’m making changes. When I get out of this god damn elevator, I’m going to be a different person. I’m going to stand up to the world and yell “this is me, and I don’t care what you think!” I’m going to march up to Adam and tell him who I am, and force him to still accept me as a friend and coworker. I’m going to drive to my parents’ house and hug my mom and punch my deadbeat dad in the face. “THIS IS ME, DAD.” They’re going to see. Everyone’s going to see. The entire fucking world is going to see… 


I’m done wai- 

My thoughts are interrupted by a buzzing noise that quickly fills the empty chamber. With a burst, the lights turn back on and I squint as my eyes adjust to the sudden brightness. I look down at my belongings scattered about my legs and the water marks that dot my pants from my tears. I quickly gather my things and scrape them off the floor back into my bag as the elevator begins to move. 

As the doors open, I’m greeted by a couple electrical workers. The shock on their faces confuses me as I step out on shaky legs.

“Hey man, I’m so sorry, we didn’t know anyone was here. The power went out in the building so we shut off the elevator lights while we worked to fix it. Are you okay?!”


I smile as I reenter the elevator. 

We meet again.

I feel oddly grateful to this small room this morning. Not only for the forced cathartic experience, but also for letting me have the first full night’s sleep I've had in a while without having to take an extra dose of my anxiety meds to shut off my mind. I guess rock beats scissor, scissor beats paper, paper beats rock, and trauma beats insomnia. 

I stride into the office with a renewed confidence and throw a nod at the receptionist, who’s taken aback by my new demeanor. I walk past my cubicle towards the back, where I see Adam at his desk. As I march up to him, he looks up.

“Hey bro, you’re looking good this morning!” He says with his hand up. 

“...I… Hey… Uh…” I feel my body beginning to shut down.

Timidly, I force my hand up and return his high five.

Say something.

“Yeah man, it was just… uh… a great game last night.” 

“You can say that again brother, see you around!”

“For sure, dude.” 

I’m completely worthless.  

September 07, 2020 17:15

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Barbara Burgess
09:04 Sep 17, 2020

HI, I enjoyed your story tinged with happiness and sadness. An interesting take on the prompt. Someone trapped within an elevator with their own thoughts and big ideas and then when they get out they go back to the same old world and being the same person, which is so often the case. Well done and keep on writing.


Niki Urquidi
17:30 Sep 22, 2020

Thank you so much Barbara! I really appreciate your comment. I'm not the best writer and I definitely still have room for improvement, but comments like yours make me feel so happy and motivated! Thanks again, and have a great day!


Barbara Burgess
10:01 Sep 24, 2020

HI, I was pleased to comment on your story. Everyone's first story will not be as good as the next one and so on and so on. With practice each story will be better than the first. Keep at it and do not think badly of your writing.


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