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.