Ryan Griffith ~ 24 Hour Elevator

To break down is what we’re designed for. Lungs, lan­guage, ele­va­tors. A per­son can only climb sev­en floors before they grow old, before extinc­tion, and it’s me they call. Shaman, doc­tor, repair man. An ele­va­tor is a machine of ver­ti­cal desire, weight and bal­ance, worm wheels and the over­drive gov­er­nor, and nev­er relents. Day and night it slips invis­i­ble through walls, silent as germs, draw­ing us clos­er to our tribe of shad­ows. As some­times hap­pens with the heart, things go wrong, and the tiny cap­sule hangs in the void, pinched between floors. Tonight it’s a sin­gle woman strand­ed in the infi­nite divis­i­bil­i­ty of space, the impos­si­bil­i­ty of arrival. What is she doing all alone in that steel box? Like us, she lis­tens to the clock of the world, unneck­laces the jew­els of mem­o­ry. Wait for me, my angel. We are more than our ner­vous sys­tems, hot breath on glass. If you speak to dark­ness it will answer: I am the spoon of suf­fer­ing, the cup of sand we drink. The night is genius, beau­ti­ful as smoke. Palmists in their mys­tic kitchens touch the red eyes of cig­a­rettes to the sky. I see you dan­gling in the shaft, my dear. Don’t wor­ry. We all need our myths of free fall, that there is no safe­ty brake, that we drop scream­ing through the beast. You only think you want the doors to open. It’s hard to return to this world once you say goodbye.


Ryan Griffith’s fic­tion has appeared in Fiction Southeast, NANO Fiction, (mac)ro(mic), and The Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Stories of 2012 and 2022. He cur­rent­ly runs a mul­ti­me­dia nar­ra­tive instal­la­tion in San Diego called Relics of the Hypnotist War.