Sometimes at night when everyone in the whole world could sleep because they had lives to wake up to in the morning, you know: kids, jobs, husbands, wives. Sometimes when they were sleeping and I couldn’t, I would go get in my apartment’s elevator and sit in the far left corner by the window-wall overlooking the city. Sometimes. I never used to push a certain floor once the elevator door shut and it would just stay idle on my second floor for a while as I sat. Sometimes I thought it got tired of the second floor. Sometimes I thought my elevator was always waiting for the woman on the 8th floor because it eventually would go to the 8th floor and sit for a while. Sometimes it would stay on her floor all night. I would get off and take the stairs down to the street and watch it sit up there all lit up and happy waiting for her. Those nights I wondered who that woman was on the 8th floor. Did she sit in the left corner of the elevator like me and look out at the city that was washed out by the reflection of herself in the window? Did she look out of the window overlooking the city that she could only see if she cupped her hands to the window and pushed her eyes closely to it? I wanted to know who that woman was that my elevator was always returning to.
One night I decided to find her. I got in the elevator and pushed the button for the 8th floor. Each beep for every floor the elevator and I passed made my heart pound harder and faster. Beep. I began to fall in love with the sound as it got fainter and fainter with each floor. Beep. My heartbeat was drowning out the beeps. I needed to stand up and move or I was going to explode. I placed my hand on the elevator wall and felt the cold glass on my hands. I felt like I was the first person to touch it in that spot because it jumped. Beep. The beeps start turning me on. Beep. I wanted more. I want to feel more of the space I was in. I started touching everything. I loved the way it felt on my skin. My arms. Beep. The door opened.
When I got off I was sweating. I was out of my element. The 8th had beautiful tiled floors unlike the 2nd floor’s twenty-year-old carpet. There were live plants and beautiful window shades. There was a beautiful door, the only door, at the end of the hallway. I sat on the floor in front of the beautiful door and had a staring contest with the elevator. It wanted me to leave her door. It knew what I was doing. I wasn’t going to leave until I found out who this woman was. I could tell her I was lost. I could maybe tell her I lived in the building but the elevator took me to the 8th and then broke and I couldn’t take the steps back down because the door to the steps was jammed so I thought I’d sit and then I fell asleep and that’s why I was sitting outside of her door. She, of course, would invite me in for breakfast and fresh squeezed orange juice that I’m sure she makes every morning and we would become great friends. She would tell me all about her life as a doctor or a lawyer and I would tell her all about my life as a waitress whose boyfriend is cheating on her with the doctor/lawyer who lives on the 8th floor of his real girlfriend’s apartment. She would then kick me out, call security, maybe my (our) boyfriend, and then I would be left with nothing because he would obviously pick her over me because she makes breakfast and I make nothing. I decided to leave.
I got up to walk back towards the elevator and I heard her door open behind me. Fuck. She heard me out here. She’d probably been watching me through her peep hole.
“Hello?” She said with one of the most beautiful voices I had ever heard before.
“Hey, I’m sorry—the elevator dropped me off on the 8th floor for some reason and now it’s broken and I’m trying to find a way back down to my floor.” I lifted my head as I said this, following my voice to her ears and then looking into her eyes. She was perfect. Everything I wasn’t. She had long blonde hair, an amazing nose, and big blue eyes. An amazing nose is an important quality to have. It can’t be too big or too small or you just don’t look right. I’d been trying for years to make my nose perfect but I couldn’t. I’d even taped it down once so it wouldn’t stick out as far. Fail. I loved her nose. Shit. No wonder he was fucking her. He probably told her he loved her nose and they probably would have sex and she would rub her nose against his. Then after they finished I’m sure they’d sit around and laugh at what my nose was like. Bitch.
“There are stairs right there.”
“Oh, are there? I’m sorry. I’m new to the building.” Lie.
“No problem. Which floor do you live on?”
I couldn’t tell her the 2nd because she would know who I was so I had to lie.
“The first floor.”
“Oh, then why were you in the elevator to begin with?”
“I got lost. I thought first meant second. I’m not smart.”
She laughed uncomfortably and a scared look came over her face. Or annoyed. Ding. The elevator door opened back up.
“Well, I’m sorry to bother you this late. Have a great night.”
"Wait, do you want to come in? I have some cookies in the oven and I could tell you a little about the area. I have a hard time sleeping at night.”
“Me too.” She had cookies baking in the oven at four in the morning. Bitch. Ding. The elevator door closed behind me and I started walking over to her and her nose.
Her apartment was exquisite. Those kind of apartments that you would only see on TV. You know, the one’s that Paula Dean or Rachel Ray would live in based on the exquisite kitchen they cook in? We all know those kitchens must mean their houses must be amazing. It smelled like someone had just cleaned. Was this where he came on nights when he didn’t come to me? I would come here too over my place. She actually had dishes and coasters for her drinks so her perfect glass tables wouldn’t get messed up.
He wouldn’t have been with her or me that night, though. He was working the graveyard shift over at the old mall. The only reason I knew he actually did work the graveyard shift on Tuesday nights was because I followed him one night when I thought he was cheating on me. I sat hunched over in my car watching him all night and then I followed him back to my apartment. I liked that he left work and was coming to my apartment. I felt like I had some sort of a power over him. I wanted him to knock and knock and knock at my door until he realized I wasn’t there and then I wanted him to worry that I may had been with another man. He didn’t knock on my door that night though. I watched him out of my car window get on the elevator. I watched him check himself in the reflection of the elevator window. I watched him pass the 2nd floor. I watched the elevator stop on her floor and he got off. That’s how I knew he was cheating. He got off.
“So where did you move from….?”
“I moved from down the road. Just down the road.”
“Oh, okay. Well, I’ve been here for about two years now. I really love it.”
“Does your boyfriend love it?”
“Oh. I’m sorry. I just assumed you had a boyfriend because you’re so pretty.”
She just looked at me with a confused look in her eyes. Like she knew who I was. Like I had crossed some sort of a line. Some kind of a neighbor line. Or maybe it was a girlfriend who was sleeping with the neighbor line. I hated the way that look made her nose look. Ding.
“The cookies are ready!”
“Yay. What is your name by the way?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I’m Sarah.”
Just then—just when she said her name I saw it. It was a picture hanging on a Disney World magnet on her fridge. My boyfriend was on bitch Sarah’s fridge. He was wearing the sweater I got him for Christmas a few months back so it must have been a new picture. They were somewhere with waterfalls and he looked happy as hell to be standing next to bitch Sarah and her perfect nose. I’d be happy as hell too. She was perfect. I’m not even sure I have a picture with him yet. We had just started dating before Christmas and she has a picture with my boyfriend and I don’t.
“Huh?” She said my boyfriend’s name. It just rolled off of her tongue like a magician revealing his big trick. Jake. It sounded so perfect when she said it.
“Oh, nice…he’s cute.”
“Is he here?”
“No, he actually doesn’t live with me. I’m afraid of committing too much we’ve only been together for a year.”
I wanted to die when I heard that. They had been together for a year. One year. I had only been with Jake for a few months. He wasn’t my boyfriend. Jake was her boyfriend. I was sleeping with her boyfriend. I was the other woman. I was the bitch. Fuck. He fucked me and my big nose to get away from her and her perfect nose. I would put my nose against his when he would fuck me and he probably liked it because it was bigger than hers and less perfect. She wasn’t going and sitting in the corner of my elevator on nights when she couldn’t sleep because on nights like those she was fucking Jake.
“No…thanks. I actually have to go. I’m so sorry.”
“Alright. Are you okay?”
I walked out and shut the door behind me. Ding. The elevator door opened and I got on it. I went to the corner and either sat down willingly or fell (I can’t remember). With every beep the elevator made going back down to my floor I could feel the uncertainly the elevator must have felt.
“You knew,” I screamed. “You fucking knew he was with both of us and you never said anything.” I tried to punch the glass hoping to hurt the elevator but I just hurt myself. Beep. I could tell the beeps were trying to console me because they got fainter and gentler until I could barely notice them anymore. I looked out of the glass window that overlooked the city lights that were washed away from the elevator lights and all I could see was myself. Crying in the corner of the elevator that betrayed me. Ding. I was at my floor. The 2nd floor. The peasants quarters, if you will. The floor where the other woman of the woman with the beautiful nose lived. I didn’t get off. I stayed there and waited.
About the author:
Kelsey Goudie is a second year MFA candidate in fiction at George Mason University. After earning her M.A. in Writing from Coastal Carolina University, she decided to head back up to the D.C. area, where she is from, to work on her writing a little more and attend GMU. Kelsey's work has appeared in Thrice Fiction Magazine.