21 comments

Drama

1. Audrey


           In two three four, hold two three four, out two three four. Audrey repeated the mantra to herself as she practiced the breathing exercises. She looked at her reflection in the elevator door. She was ashen, almost anemic looking. The anxiety rolled over her like an old frenemy: heaviness in her chest, the foggy brain, the urge to run and escape. It reared its head in even in the most mundane situations. This however, a stuck elevator, was a good reason to panic.

           She had suffered from anxiety since a young age, her first panic attack was at the mall with her mom when she was eight years old. She hadn’t been to a mall since, only shopping at open-air plazas. It controlled every aspect of her life.

In college she could only take courses that were on the first floor. Anxiety was probably the reason she was still single too, unable to date like a normal person. She had to sit in the back of every room, near the exit, in restaurants, at parties, etc. She had tried medication and it helped some, but she was still limited. Hold two three four. Most of her days were the same, starting with a certain sorrow gradually moving into a simmering panic by noon. Out two three four…


2. Ethan


           Should I say something? She looks like she is panicking. What do I say? She’ll probably think I’m an idiot. Ethan looked at his reflection in the elevator door. His ears stuck out too far from his head. Why did he wear that shirt? It was supposed to be white but was yellowed in the armpits. Leaving him feeling like an inadequate teenager. Or like the abstract painting on the wall behind him, shallow and chaotic.

           He felt like a kid playing dress up in his father’s clothes. His mother’s voice, long gone, still echoed in his head, wrapping around him like a vice. His insecurities were hungry. 

His parents had divorced when he was young and it was always just his mother and him. Dad got the television, she got him. Which was like planting a perfectly good seed in clay, doomed from the start. His mother’s voice haunted him the most in the quiet moments, like this. It was a wound that would never heal, no natter how much attention he gave it, bandaging it, applying ointment to it. 

           He looked at his reflection in the elevator door, but his mother was the only one he saw. But he couldn’t blame her, he was all she had. So he kept quiet.


3. Greg


           Greg had been working with Ethan for several months. He watched and waited for the signs, a gaze lingering too long, a casual brush of the arm. When Ethan looked at him Greg returned the gaze, soft and unguarded. But that gaze was never matched. He would leave work at the same time as Ethan, in hopes of a conversation being started, but inevitably would fold and watch Ethan drive out of the parking lot in his shiny Audi. He tried to picture a man, or a woman in the passenger seat. He could only picture himself there, though. Ethan's strong arm around him.

           Greg leaned in and smelled Ethan's cologne, bathing himself in his boyish aroma, like leather and soap. Then he looked at his reflection in the elevator door. A bead of perspiration formed on his forehead, his shoulders drooped.

           What would he say? The last thing he needed was to be ‘outed’ at the office. He wasn’t exactly in the closet, but it wasn't something he went around advertising. Especially not in their male dominated office of fist-bumping and snide remarks about the women employees. He would wait a little longer, continuing to watch for signs, while trying to act strong and nonchalant, but feeling like a tangled ball of yarn. Maybe next time.


4. Beth


           What is he looking at? She thought as she saw Greg glance at her. She was so sick of the male dominated office. She’d been dealing with macho man-children since college. I suppose it’s my fault for picking a male dominated field. So many times she had walked into the kitchenette, the room going quiet, as if they were just talking about her. She‘d feel their eyes burning a hole on her ass as she walked away, the tell-tale snickering.

           The department head tested her every time he had a chance. Seeing how far she would let his advances go, a systemic grooming. She was pretty enough to be on a billboard but she played herself down as much as possible, even wearing her thick black-rimmed glasses.

           That afternoon she had given a presentation to her colleagues. As she stood in front of them they looked her up and down, leaving her feel violated. After she left the room she heard them laughing like pigs, snorting from their big stupid faces. She yearned for the comfort of her car after being stuck in a testosterone-filled office all day.

           When she moved up as vice-president they wouldn't be scoffing. Until then, she just had to put up with it.


5. Roger


           Roger was missing happy hour, part of his daily routine. His family thought he worked late most nights, but the truth was he stopped for happy hour at Mickey's on the way home, his wife didn’t approve of him drinking during the week.

           He hadn’t had a sober day since he was discharged from the Army, a ‘functioning alcoholic’ is what the therapist called him. If he’s functioning then what’s the problem?

           He looked at the clock, like Pavlov’s dogs, he felt the burning sensation in his throat, the alcohol putting out the fire. He looked at his reflection in the elevator door, his cheeks rosy and ruddy. Alcohol had robbed him of his youthful appearance. His hands began to tremble. He raised a shaky finger to push the button again. He felt like a bomb ready to go off. Had he known he would be stuck here he would have taken the flask he kept in his desk for emergencies.


           ‘TING’ the elevator sounded, finally opening its doors. Without a word the five strangers scrambled out.

September 09, 2020 19:38

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21 comments

Katina Foster
18:15 Sep 12, 2020

I really enjoyed this, Sarah! I was waiting for some big blow up after feeling all that tension, but I like how it simply ends, just like real life. You perfectly capture the awkwardness of elevators and manage to provide compelling backstories in just a few sentences. "Seeing how far she would let his advances go, a systemic grooming." UGH. I can't wait for this character to be the big boss and knock all those dummies out. :) Good work!

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03:08 Sep 17, 2020

Thank you so much Katina!

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Jessica C
15:03 Sep 11, 2020

You did so much with so little here! In just a few short paragraphs we get so much insight into these people. It's amazing. This story has one of my new favorite lines: "His insecurities were hungry." I am stealing that from you and using it in real life conversations from now on. Great work, lady!!

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15:22 Sep 11, 2020

Lol thanks Jessica. I’d be honored if you stole my lines

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Evan Rocker
22:53 Sep 10, 2020

I so enjoyed the different perspectives. Your bio made me laugh so loud I disturbed family in the adjacent room. Don't worry, they already think I'm bonkers. Have a great evening and keep writing!

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22:57 Sep 10, 2020

Lol thanks Evan!

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21:11 Sep 10, 2020

I love the story. You tried to put yourself in the shoes of each of the characters and to me that made your story very pleasing. The lives of employees who chat less but have a thousand words to say. Thumbs up!

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21:28 Sep 10, 2020

Thank you so much David !

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Jonathan Blaauw
13:28 Sep 10, 2020

This is an excellent example of your diversity! The reader immediately knows it’s going to be something different when they see the character headlines for each part. Not meatball-different, though. Proof you have a wide range. The way you set it up kind of reminded me of this old play about five different people who witness a murder and then, in court, when each gives their side of the story, they’re totally different, making one realize that ideas like ‘truth’ and ‘perception’ are relative, not absolute. Exactly the same feeling your st...

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03:09 Sep 17, 2020

Thank you so much Jonathon. I've been slacking on my comments lately but I'll do better.

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Jonathan Blaauw
04:16 Sep 17, 2020

Please don't worry, I do it all the time. It's easy to forget and, as soon as it goes off the first notifications page, it's hard to remember to get back to them. All famous people struggle to keep up with fan mail, so don't be too hard on yourself.

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A.G. Scott
00:04 Sep 10, 2020

Good stuff. Well-written throughout, and I appreciate the way their stories connect and come together to provide a fuller picture of the workplace.

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00:28 Sep 10, 2020

Thank you A.g. I was trying to show they’re all ‘stuck’ , being held down one way or another. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment

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Aveena Bordeaux
22:57 Sep 09, 2020

This was great :) I loved seeing and being in the perspectives of each of the five characters as they narrated their time in the elevator. Super enjoyable!

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23:09 Sep 09, 2020

Thank you Joy!

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Bianka Nova
22:50 Sep 09, 2020

OK, after the meatball story, I guess a drama was to be expected. Such depressing realities. You never know what's going on in someone's mind. And even if the people themselves are aware of their dysfunctional lives, they still don't do anything to change them. A couple of notes: - Try rewriting a bit the beginning of Part 3 (Greg) - The first sentence is not its best version, then you repeat "gaze"... I'm not a fan of rewriting other people's work, so I won't give any pointers. Besides I am sure you are more than capable of doing a spl...

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23:09 Sep 09, 2020

Thank you so much Bianka. And yes let me play around with those edits and see what I can come up with.

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Michele Hinton
17:58 Sep 17, 2020

I thought your story was very interesting. Five people stuck in an elevator, thinking their own thoughts, but not talking to each other. I think you hit the reality nail on the head. That's par for the course in these days and times. Nice read.

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Kristin Neubauer
16:52 Sep 12, 2020

I really liked this, Sarah. Who doesn't get on an elevator with strangers and wonder what's going on in their mind as everyone looks straight ahead? You explored the different perspectives so well. I don't think I'll look at my stranger-laden elevator rides the same way again!

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16:59 Sep 12, 2020

Oh thank you Kristin. I was trying to go for a you never know what someone else is dealing with vibe. And they’re all ‘stuck’ in their own way on their lives. Thanks for reading !!

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Kristin Neubauer
17:18 Sep 12, 2020

Oooo - yes! I had taken Stuck so literally - as with the elevator - that I didn't think about it metaphorically. Now I'm going to go back and read it again with that in mind.

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