This office building has ten floors, two basements and a roof terrace. Two elevators, each one with a 20 square feet space. On each elevator: ten buttons with numbers, one to open-door, one to close-door, one with a T for terrace, one with a -1 for the first basement, one with a -2 for the second basement, an alarm bell and a light switch.
That’s the one button I’m staring at, the switch. If I weren’t staring at it I’d have to look at whoever is going to be there with me; or at the mirror. I don’t like that mirror, it knows too many things.
I can always tell when someone needs to get into the elevator but is not going to make it, though I can’t really figure out the open-door/close-door buttons in time and I’m always afraid I’m going to mess it up and press the wrong one. I don’t know where the sensor is either, and I’m not about to lose a leg just to keep the door open and save someone a couple of minutes.
I see you in the distance. I can tell you’re rushing, you slow down your pace, and then you rush again. I can see you without you seeing that I see you, and right on time I change my line of sight and I stare at the switch again. The good old switch. It doesn’t require anything from me, it doesn’t question me. It’s a simple and loyal switch.
I thought I timed things better. I thought you were going to get in the elevator, at another time and press the same button as me; sooner or later than me, just not at the same time. I thought I was the only person crazy enough to specifically ask for the graveyard shift at the office. I guess you were trying to avoid me too, and crazyness is now the only thing we have in common.
When you came in, the edges of the number 9 button were already bright red. I had pushed it a minute ago; I didn’t get it right the first time, I did the second time.
I was staring at the light switch.
Me. Oh, hey.
The light switch is suddenly not enough to distract me and I start to play with the other buttons. I press number 10 and 11. I smile. I know it’s dumb but no one else was there to judge my little game. The world would not come to an end, even if I wasted some seconds with those stops that nobody asked for. I can tell you’re smiling, you know I’m playing, you know me.
You. So cold, right? I had to get these gloves otherwise I couldn’t handle the weather on my bike.
I stare at the switch again. I quickly went from enjoying a little game of pressing extra buttons to remembering that we didn’t wake up together. I want more people to get in the elevator but no one else does at that time of day. The graveyard shift at this company would be great if I didn´t share it with you. I want this switch to be able to switch conversations and situations.
I can feel you trying to smell my perfume; we’re standing so close to each other. There’s room for two other people, and even two more people. You stand right by as if those two other people, and the other two people were there and there was nowhere else to be.
But nobody else is there and the way we’re standing is ridiculous. I like to know you’re right by me.
I look at the switch and those thoughts come back to my head. You did not sleep next to me. You did not wake up with me. You did not choose me. There is no more you and me.
You can tell I’m tense. You can’t handle staying in silence for the rest of the ride.
You. I went to the movies.
Me. What did you see?
I think to myself that I really don’t care what you saw.
You. You wouldn’t know it. It’s a German one, at this underground movie theater.
Me. Was it good?
I have by now learned how to write “light switch” in Braille.
You. Yeah, I guess. I was expecting something else though.
Me. Yeah, that happens sometimes.
We speak a few more seconds about trivial matters. We speak with that normal voice that we’ve been faking for a while now; like two people that haven’t seen each other naked, let alone cry.
I begin to sing in my head, I do not want to be a part of this conversation any longer. I want to have timed things better and not to have to force some loud song in my head to quiet down the I love yous that are stuck in my throat and that I’m not allowed to yell anymore.
Floor number 9 finally arrives and you step out first. I threaten to leave the elevator but then don’t. I quickly press the button and surprisingly get it right. Close-door.
You. You’re not coming down?
You say to me with a weird look in your face while the door is closing.
Me. Nope. I’m never coming down. Not for you, not for anybody.
I tell you, not being able to control the pout on my face any longer.
You stare at me. The door closes. I press L for lobby, but now I have to wait for the elevator to stop at the 10th and 11th floor first.