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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Brian Sloan on October 8, 2015

In the Elevator

Sopping wet, I stole into the elevator with my eyes on the floor, making a quick but futile flick of my arms to dislodge some of the more advanced raindrops from my hands. The doors closed and I rode in silence.

I could feel the presence of someone else there, yet I didn't turn, leaving the proverbial elephant to rest in the corner. The floors seemed to creep by at a painstaking pace, however, and eventually my frustration boiled over the top.

"I just don't understand women sometimes."

My blanket statement was met with silence, neither hostile nor inviting. I took the silence as an invitation.

"I just don't know what they want. I mean, you do everything right and still something goes wrong." More silence. I paused for a floor. "I got attacked by a dog protecting her. A freaking dog! And the very next day, 'Oh let's just be friends.' Can you believe that?" A loud snort of derision echoed in the small box as we dropped floors. "I've no idea what it takes to please a girl these days. No idea. Whatever it is, more sacrifice than getting your hand chewed on by a dog. That's comforting."

I felt some kind of nudge from behind, as if my partner was clumsily trying to pat me on the back. The physical contact seemed an invitation, so I turned, extending a hand for a handshake. "Hi, I'm Br--"

The words died on my lips as I found myself staring face-to-face with the charger of the savanna. His--or her, I can' be certain--horns glistened inches from my face, a keratin reminder that I could very easily be a person-kebab if I took the wrong step.

Strangely, through the panic, the one clear thought I could muster was "Wow, I did not expect this elevator to be so big."

Conflicting animal advice bombarded me from a childhood of urban life. Do you look it in the eyes? Or will that be seen as a sign of aggression and make it charge you? Do I jump up and down like I would for a mountain lion? Or make eye contact and slowly back away, like a snake?

Instead of any of these calm and collected ideas, my mouth decided to simply babble nonsense in some sort of mockery of a nursery rhyme. "Bah-bah-bah-bah...that's a rh--rhino. You, I mean. You're a rhino but I thought you were a person but now you're a rhino in an elevator oh God oh God please don't kill me."

It snorted once again and stomped a single foot, causing the entire elevator to shake and swing. I glanced back at the floor number for a quick moment: 3rd, not much longer to go.

I looked into its face. Not a pretty face by any stretch of the imagination, with little beetle-black eyes sunk deep into the sides of a wrinkly, elongated head that gazed at me with a blank expression. In the silence it pawed the floor again, and the lights flickered as the elevator swung wildly along its cables. I remembered most elevators had a carrying capacity, and wasn't sure if they covered multi-ton animals in that range. It seemed as though the beast was calmer while I was talking, or at least wasn't stomping, so I started up again.

"Love is a funny thing. You find someone who makes your heart go pitter-patter and you find the courage to tell them they give color to your world, put yourself out on a limb, and have it smashed in front of you. Then you pick up the broken pieces, try to put the picture back together, only to have someone else break it in a new way. And we keep doing it, like some horrible drug. Because there's no high like having someone in your life." The doors dinged open, and I turned around and stepped out of the machine. The rhinoceros squeezed his way out of the small metal cage and charged off into the rain, fading slowly as visibility was obscured by the downpour.

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