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THE ELEVATOR | Saleen Marandi

“Everything is perfect.” Words came out as I peered out the window, and the streets were as bustling as usual. The sun was setting, and there was a gentle breeze blowing.

“Let's go. It's getting late.” Someone said as he placed his hand on my shoulder as I drank the last sip of my coffee. I turned to see him, my childhood best friend and soon-to-be fiancé, smiling at me. He carefully wrapped his arm around my waist as I got from my seat.

"Hey, what is it?" he snapped his fingers for attention.

"Huh... no, nothing," regaining consciousness after my reverie. We sat in peace, our fingers intertwined. Was I ready for the change?

"Is everything okay, Moon? You seem a little withdrawn and confused, which is unusual for you." He asked, giving my palm a light squeeze.

"I enjoy the silence." I smiled as I said.

We arrived in front of our new apartment, a pre-engagement gift from our parents. Until today, we had our own apartment. Living under the same roof was a novel experience for me. when we were younger, we frequently crashed in each other's rooms, but it wasn't the same now. We headed for the entrance while walking hand in hand.

He opened the entrance for us to go inside. It was silent and dark before becoming loud.

Everyone yelled, "SURPRISE."

As the lights came on, many recognizable faces came; in front of us.

"Sorry, dear, we wanted to surprise you." My mother said as she moved toward me.

"Mom, this wasn't necessary," I said, embarrassed, as she hugged me. I looked around the house; purple balloons and ribbons adorned the entire space. One of my favorite colors.

"Oh, honey, it's your birthday and you're starting a new life."

How can I forget my birthday, I thought.

My mother dragged us through the crowd to the dining room, where everyone was waiting; for us. What could be better than this? all those joyful faces, a caring fiancé, our encouraging families, and friends? I wondered as soft music played in the background, and my friends danced and cheered for us.

When I turned to gaze, I noticed my image in the mirror. I had a smile on my face as I stood there in all white. But all at once, time stood still, the music halted, and everyone stopped. There was silence, the mirror reflection changed, and the smile vanished. While dressed in the same white gown, I was neither joyful nor sad. I was bound by chains and standing motionless.

My mother called my name, and that's when I snapped back; to reality. And everything came back to usual. But now the pleasant soft music pierced my ears. The familiar faces seemed foreign to me, and the hand resting on my waist felt heavy.

“What's wrong, dear? Cut the cake; we're waiting." I nodded in response to my mom's comment.

We were about to cut the cake when someone said, "Aren't they adorable, made for each other just perfect..." It struck me like a hammer, and the smile I had been wearing vanished straight away.

"Just perfect,"

Every time someone said perfect, it struck me harder than before, like a hammer. I shouted. "ENOUGH." and threw down the knife before sprinting to the front door. I had a terrible feeling that everyone was staring at me in confusion. But all I could see was the door that would let me escape the oppression I was experiencing.

"Moon wait," He gently grabbed my wrist so as not to harm me. He was hurt and perplexed, and I could see the concern in his eyes.

"I'm heading outside for some fresh air: by myself." I interrupted as he was about to say something. His hold on me loosened and, I stepped outside. I followed the path blindly because I wanted to get as far away from them as possible.

I drove for a while, losing sight of the passing time and ignoring the calls and texts from my family and fiancé. I flipped my phone, not wishing to look at it. After two hours of nonstop driving, I halted somewhere unfamiliar. I noticed a library and an art gallery behind me.

I stopped in the sixth-floor library; a few people were there, and the door was wide open. Something in me told me to go there. I took a book and started flipping through the pages to get rid of the garbage in my head, and once again, I lost count of time.

"I should go now," With a sigh, I exited the library and noticed an empty hallway. I was sitting alone on the floor, and, to my astonishment, no staff members were present. It was strange because there had been people there a moment earlier. I entered the elevator after spotting it to get inside in time.

The elevator door was a few inches apart when a hand held it and prevented it from closing. A man came, fixing his glasses. He pressed the ground floor button. I tried to peek at his face as he looked a little familiar.

He looked in my direction and bowed a little. Everything was quiet until a creaking sound came. The power went off, the elevator stopped on the 2nd floor, and the door didn't open.

"Did they?" The man said, looking straight at me, confused.

"I... I should call for help," I said, searching for my phone. After a few minutes, I realized I had left it in the car, cursing myself under my breath.

"Can't find it? That means we have to wait until daybreak." He said as he sat beside me.

"Don't you have a cell phone?" I asked

"No, I don't have one." he shrugged.

"Are you an artist or something?" He asked. "I mean, you are in the museum, you do something related to ar…''

''No.'' I cut him off in the middle and sat beside him. ''I'm a chef, I... I don't know, I felt like I should come here so...'' I said, fidgeting.

''Calm down, I won't hurt you,'' he explained himself after seeing my nervous face.

''Do you live here, I mean, near?'' He asked to cut down the awkwardness between us.


"Oh. I’m a writer, I came here to get some inspiration for my next work".

"Oh. That’s...that's great".

"Are you okay with me asking you a question? If you're cool with it, that is."

"Sure," I spoke hesitantly.

"I want to try my hand at writing a perfect love story, but I'm at a loss for where to begin and how to"

There was it again, the word I didn't want to hear. Perfect.



"Why? You want to compose a perfect love story? I asked.

“Because everyone enjoys reading love tales, it connects the reader emotionally.”

“It is pointless. It only heightens the desire to find the ideal partner with a happily ever after, but is it always happy? Who knows..."?

"Nothing in this world is perfect, so we embrace that and find happiness in the imperfections."

"The flawlessly imperfect," I grumbled and began to fiddle with the ring my fiancé had given me when he proposed to me. He focused on my ring, then on my face.

"Engaged?" He questioned.

"Hmm... He is my closest friend.” I paused a bit. “But, like in fairy stories, will we live happily ever after? Is there anything called love, as they talk about in the stories? If so, why am I not feeling it? It's not that I don't love him; I do. Then why do I feel so uneasy about the changes in my life? I said yes, the instant he asked me to marry him. Why? I'm not sure." I stopped when I noticed how attentive the man was listening to me.

"I don't regret this; I don't know what I'm feeling. Everything was going well, and it scares me that I'll ruin it. Or something bad would happen like it's the peace before a tornado, and everything will go whoosh”.

Everything paused for a brief instant. I couldn't believe I spewed this out, but it felt good. The man with the glasses placed his hand; on my shoulder to ensure that he, understood everything I said.

"You know what I think?" he said, following a brief pause.

"That, I'm a crazy woman who just told everything to a stranger." I chuckled as I said.

"No, you're not crazy; instead, you're a person who built a shield around yourself. Because you are scared that if it is not perfect, everything will go wrong".

"You're being nice,"

"You're not accepting the change that's happening to you. Maybe because it's happening too fast, or you think it's happening too fast,"

"Either way, it's the same."

"No, it's not. You know, there are various definitions of love for everyone. Love is; something you can't put into words or express by telling someone you love them. It's something you feel and doesn't want to explain to anyone else."

"What are you saying?

"All I'm trying to say is that love isn't something you put on a speech or presentation. The times you spent together and laughed, the times you cried, and the work you do with enthusiasm is love. And each definition is unique and beautiful.

I sat there motionless, clutching my knees. I listened so intently that I didn't notice the corner of my eye starting to tear up.

"The emotion coming out in the form of tears is love." He pointed at me.

"That still doesn't describe how I'll live a happy life," I whispered.

He sighed and pulled a photo out of his wallet to show it to me.

"Is she your wife?" I questioned.

"Yes, I didn't know we would be happy either, but we gave it a shot. And I'm glad I did. Why are you so reluctant to lower your guard? There are moments when we fight, but that doesn't mean we stop being in love. Life isn't always happy, we navigate it all together.”

“You have found the one.”

"Hmm... Not perfect, real. There isn't anything perfect in this world. We construct an ideal companion out of nothing; even ideal gas is not real.” He laughed.

“She's lovely,” I remarked.

"Yes, she is, and a little clumsy too. She always makes a mess when she cleans, and I snore every time I go to sleep. But we never complained, and never attempted to be perfect for each other, because love doesn't need to be perfect, and it's not perfection that we fall for... it’s the little imperfections that we love in our partners that make our bond strong”.

I began crying as I realized how mistaken I had been; the entire time.

"He's your best friend, right?" he asked, to which I nodded. "How do you feel about him?"

"I don't know. How exactly do I feel? He had been with me all the time. I'm used to him being around that he's like a part of me. So, I never questioned myself how I felt about him."

He looked at me and waited for me to continue.

“He’s a part of me that is so relaxing that I feel anxious when he’s not around.” I was staring at the elevator floor. “A part of me who knows all the right things to say. He knows me better than I do.”

I remembered the days we had spent together. How he used to come late and then apologize with my favourite momos. How he looks at me with loving eyes and clicks my pictures. How he holds my hand when he’s scared in a movie.

“So, what’s stopping you from accepting it?”

"I'm not sure,"

"You know the best things in our life happen without any planning. It happens at an unexpected time, with unexpected people in a very unexpected way. And that's what makes it beautiful."

I hid my face in shame over what I had done a few hours earlier.

"Like right now, who would have thought we would be discussing our lives while stranded in an elevator."

“You’re right." I sobbed while burying my face in my hand.

"Why are you crying?"

"Because I messed up big this time, all because of my insecure thoughts."

"You're not to blame. I was in the same situation as you are right now. I was so terrified that I ran away for a week without informing anyone, only to find out I was wrong."

"I wish I could go back and fix what I did, but that's not possible."

"What counts is what you do going forward. The discussion got too deep, didn't it?"

"Yes..." I spoke while leaning back against the wall, closing my eyes, and trying to recall all the happy moments in my life.

Not sure how long I sat like this, but then I heard noises coming from behind the door. I gradually opened my eyes to discover myself in a diskless nook of a room filled with books. When I stood up, I saw the door open wide, and a familiar figure rushed over to me. He took me in his arms looking scared, concerned, and relieved.

"Please don't do it again; you frightened me. Do you realize how terrified I was?" He said, gently pecking my face and stroking my cheekbones, making me laugh.

I was gazing at him without saying anything. It felt like he had saved me from the gloomy thoughts of my insecurities like a knight in shining armour would. His arm was safely behind my back as we walked out, and I felt at ease being so close to him. He carefully put his jacket around my shoulder.

"That book, ma'am." One of the employees said, pointing at the book I was clutching.

"Oh, this yeah... I must have picked it up from the library.” I said and handed the book to the staff and I saw the familiar face with glasses on the back of the book ‘The elevator'.

"Let's go home," I said, smiling.

"Sure, I'll drop you off at your parents," he said, figuring I needed more time.

"No, our home, just you and me," I said, softly pecking his lips. He smiled with tears in his eyes, and I felt bad about what I did the night before. “I’m sorry. I am such a terrible person. I spoke.

He leaned against my forehead and shook his head, saying, "No. Don’t say that. Don’t ever say that. Okay.”

We were out of the building. It was morning, the sun was shining in the sky, the streets were crowded, and everything was the same as it always was. But, this time, nothing was perfect; everything was as it should be, which is normal. I don’t know about happily ever after and I don’t want to know. I’m ready to find happiness with him.

Saleen Marandi

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12. Mai 2023
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This made me smile.💕

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