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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 You seem a little withdrawn and confused, which is unusual for you."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 d