Romance Mystery

From where I stand, I take a glimpse of the black box, it moves up and down at the mercy of buttons. The buttons circular but, deceitful claws that trick you into your doom, the doors thick two sided monsters ready at any minute to eat you up.

A red sign with the word ‘DANGER!’ takes over my eyesight warning me of the worst, it’s the color of blood but not the vivid red of the freshly spilled, it is more of a browning red as if old blood. I try to go towards the stairs however, a similar sign is placed there. I can’t take the risk. Perhaps, having information regarding the construction would have made me chose a safer date to move in.

There’s the option of moving in next week. Nevertheless, I returned the keys to Mr. Shatner; the owner about two hours ago and moved my belongings. The moving men are waiting outside for a signal to start taking the items into the apartment. If I go in, the monster wins and evil prevails! Evil never wins.

I ponder on every possible action I can make, none of them in my favor. I stare at the elevator and it’s frightening from the outside, if it’s scary from the outside it’ll be even worse from the inside. Three individuals stride into the elevator whilst laughing loudly as the woman hits one of the man at the back of his head.

Okay Ava, now or never. Follow them or you’ll be stuck all by yourself. Spending time with a group of random individuals is better than being in there all by yourself. Or you can run? You can pretend to be stupid and just ask Mr. Shatner for the keys, pay the moving men an extra amount of money to move the items another day. Ughhh! You don’t have enough money. Support evil this time unfortunately, that’s the only way.

The doors slowly and wickedly begin to move towards one another.

“Wait up!”

A handsome man places his arm next to the door, holding it up for me like a gentleman from one of my Korean series.

How did he put his hand there, it’s a monster it’ll eat him.

“Thank you!”  

I proceed quickly into the lift, feeling my anxiety levels elevate and my fear escalate.

Just two minutes and you’ll be there Ava. Precisely two minutes. Only three floors.

I follow the instructions my therapist Amy had given me whenever I talked about anxiety.

Breathe, let your energy come down to something softer, then breathe a few more times and think about something that makes you happy. Take control over yourself, you can do it, imagine you’re meditating on the moon with no one around, ignore the chatter of the individuals around you. Count the amount of time it takes you to reach your destination, completely distract yourself and place your focus on something positive. This is going to be fine, sense yourself moving.

I begin counting.

One Mississippi, two Mississippi… thirty five Mississippi.


“W…h…a…t i…s h…ap…p…en...in…g?” I hardly stammer, unless I’m about to have a panic attack.

“Something related to the power or maybe a technical difficulty, not quite sure. No network as well Ah!”

“Click on the emergency button.”

“Stop ordering me Chandler!”

“I’ll stop when you do something useful smart ass?”

I can hear the voices of three individuals; completely unaware of the reason for their argument. I feel my anxiety levels increase with time, my hands shaking vigorously, palms sweating like a sea. I clench my fist tightly until my nails dig into the palm of my hand. I choke down the rising bile and consciously flex my hand as I feel the last pain of my nails. The only thing I am really aware of, is the sound of my heart throbbing against the cage of my chest, the blood pounding in my ears and feet tingling. My vision starts to disfigure as though I’m looking through a fish-eye lens. I need to get away. My level of anxiety is becoming unbearable, leaving me in an excessive paranoid state.

Someone holds onto my palm, rubbing circles with their thumb to help calm me down without exactly informing me to calm down.

“Chandler, she’s having a panic attack!”

“Duh Sherlock Holmes! Can’t you see the way she’s literally shaking?”

“You don’t have to try and be sarcastic all the time you know! Phil, make use of your degree I mean DO something!”

I take large heavy breaths as one of the man rubs my back in a soothing manner knowing exactly what he is doing.

“Breathe in and breathe out, good! You’re doing well.”

His strong British accent rolls out of his tongue in a smooth manner, I feel like a child being taught the basic alphabet.

Even though I follow his instructions, the fear is present at the back of my head. The fear I’m facing is a challenge and my demon to slay, it will continue to hit me until I stop it. The only way out is to demand solutions instead of making myself go through the crazy circling anxiety. It feels as if I can’t do much, my bones have no strength and my muscles are all out of power. But, that shouldn’t stop me.

My eyes close causing me to reminisce the memories I shared with Jeremy. I sense the woman taking a step and loosening the scarf around my neck, the other man trying to provide me with fresh air using a paper or magazine and the gorgeous man continues holding my hand. He chants some miraculous words that I don’t comprehend but make my nerves calm, heart rate slow down and sweating reduce.

“Don’t worry, you’re doing so well!”

My vision clears, I can now look at the three kind strangers who helped me, I feel a sense of embarrassment for my sudden outburst. I begin to ramble a series of apologies as well as gratefulness for their reaction towards the situation.

“Hey! Hey! Don’t worry, I’m Meredith by the way. These are my older brothers Phil and Chandler. Are you feeling better?”

“Yes, I feel slightly better. Thank you!”

The three individuals don’t look alike but I can’t help but notice the beauty spots they have on their right arms. I glance towards each individual analyzing their looks.

The woman who introduced herself as Meredith is indeed beautiful, her perfect hazel hair rests above her shoulders and her chocolate brown eyes could swallow galaxies. She has perfect skin that looks so fragile yet soft, she has cute freckles on her nose that remind me of mom. Her cheeks are the color of pink roses, eyelashes longer than I’ve ever seen, her small waist is hidden under a red ribbon top and her curvy hips fit perfectly in her dark washed jeans. To top off her outfit, she has a smile that I’m sure make a ton of men fall for her.

Next, I look at the man that Meredith continuously argues with. He has midnight black curls, grey eyes that are framed with graceful eyebrows. His skin is slightly tanned with prominent cheekbones and a well-defined face structure, his fuzzy, thin beard highlights his face as his muscles rip out of his white tee, he has his tee tucked in a pair of black jeans. His posture is filled with pride reminding me of a younger Johnny Depp.

Finally, I look at the man holding my hand and the culprit of the butterflies in my stomach. The more I look, the better he gets. He’s wearing a loose black silk shirt with leather cuffs and black trousers. I love the way his rich chocolate hair falls gracefully on his face, his strong arched brows and eyelashes are so thick it should be illegal. And then his eyes, deep and catastrophic, a vivid baby blue as a great body of water that softly melts into a milky green. From where I stand, I can see the flecks of silver in his eyes. He has distinct cheekbones and an angular jaw, his pale skin makes him look devilishly handsome. Looking this good should be a crime.

Gosh Ava, calm down.

“Ava, I know this is a personal question. But, since when did the fear of elevators begin?”


“Disneyland timeeee, let’s go everyone! Hurry up or we’ll be lateee.”

“Mom is waiting downstairs Avy, you’re making us late. Where’s Jeremy?”

It completely slipped out of my mind. Dad is the most excited to go to Disneyland, I am a 10 year old excuse for him to fulfill his dream to travel there since his family couldn’t afford to when he was younger. Jeremy is taking forever it’s annoying me now! I glance towards dad and he looks so excited and happy. I keep track of his every move, suddenly, he picks my bag up and starts to run.

“Dad that is unfair! You can’t start the countdown until Jeremy is here.”

“Your loss. I’m winning, your brother cheats every time and this time I beat HIM.”

I chase him and giggle loudly. Just then, Jeremy walks out from behind groaning as he realizes we have started off without him. He starts screaming, the three of us ready to beat one another. Of course, Jeremy beats us despite being the last one to know and enters the elevator first. Dad and I groan loudly letting out many complains. Before we can get in, the door closes off suddenly.

Dad calls the elevator while laughing and showing off about how he lost on purpose. I start to argue with him but I’m interrupted by a very loud bang, I move back in surprise dread evident on dad’s face, he progresses forward and repeatedly pushes on the button.

“Is Jeremy okay? Dad, what sound was that?” I start sobbing hysterically as dad tries to shush me but at the same time is clearly worried and scared.

He places his hand over his head and moves back and forth deciding on what to do next, I feel a tug at my arm as dad grabs it, running down the stairs to the first floor. With every floor, I feel his sweat on my palm, his heart beat rapidly increasing, eyes starting to water as though already prepared for what comes next.

As we reach the last step, it indeed is the worst case scenario. I hear mom sobbing, dad screaming while desperately attempting to pull apart the doors.

“My son! My son! Help us.”

He lets out a cry when reality hits him and the sense of being powerless covers his mind. A loud piercing siren is the last thing I hear as I feel darkness covering my eyes.


Rest in peace Jeremy.

“A personal tragedy… can’t really talk about it.”

“Oh, I’m really sorry for what you had to go through. I know how difficult it can be to face your fears but, you indeed are a strong person and I know my brothers agree with me!” 

I smile, realizing the fact that Phil is still holding onto my hand, the warmth so familiar. We stare at one another contemplating on whether to let go or hold on tighter.

At that moment, I feel the elevator fall.


I lose my stance but luckily Phil holds onto my waist so that I’m steady. His touch makes my skin burn and I close my eyes, sweat forming at the back of my neck.

Fear curls up inside of me and clings to my ribs, settling uncomfortably in my chest. I didn’t doubt the fact that the feeling is there to stay, it constantly reminds me of the existence of elevators and the tragic death of my innocent brother. Darkness washes over me and sends chills down my spine, I hear Phil talking once more but I can’t understand his words that surprisingly bring me peace.

“Hey, open your eyes we’re here.”

Fresh air covers my face, I feel like a bird that just learned how to fly. I step out quickly, feeling my body gradually move to its normal state. I don’t want to let go of Phil’s hand but I have to. I inhale and exhale spending about two minutes to calm down and then speak up.

“That’s my apartment, room 201, I can’t appreciate you enough. I don’t know how I’d have gone through this if it wasn’t for all of you. Thank you!!”

“No! No! Don’t worry …” they speak in unison making it impossible to make sense of their words.

“Guys, you’re talking at the same time.”

“Chandler! Phil! Let the smart sibling do the talking. So, Ava why don’t we hang out some time? I know my brothers are annoying but I think we could have some good girl time. We’re in apartment 402 just drop by any time.”

“That would be lovely. I sure will.”

As I turn around Phil calls out to me and his siblings whistle.

“Ava, umm…” he scratches the back of his head nervously and then pulls out his phone from his front pocket.

“This may seem creepy but... can I have your number? We could go for ice cream some time, trust me I’m not one of those dudes that kidnap women. Okay, that’s weird I shouldn’t have talked about kidnapping that makes me sound like a total weirdo”

A blush creeps on my face, I tuck my hair behind my ear and let out a giggle.

“Phil, that sound like a good idea. Text me the details.”

Maybe, elevators aren’t as bad.

September 10, 2020 11:30

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


16:08 Sep 17, 2020

Hi I like the optimistic way your story ends. It was interesting the way you incorporated the MC's anxiety into the plot arc. Keep writing.


15:11 Sep 21, 2020

Hey. Thank you so much!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.