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The gate shut sharply behind me. I shivered, not knowing if it was from anticipation or the blast of cold air that had smacked me as I walked into the elevator. I turned around and faced the front of the cage. This would be the last chance to change my mind and get off.

I was at the last phase of my journey. This was what Bill and I had planned since I’d been diagnosed. I peered at all the people scurrying around trying on jewelry on the main floor. Look at them, trying to cram life into a lunch hour.

There are only seven elevators like this left in the civilized world that still did destinations. I know this because Bill had tracked down each one of them and sent me their locations before he disappeared.

“Mezzanine or Second Floor?” the elevator operator asked as he closed the gate with his gloved right hand.

I have two choices; Past or Future. But which floor was which? I’ve been trying to guess the answer for so long, ever since Bill had vanished. I must pick the right one. I needed to get off on the same floor that Bill did.

“Mezzanine, please.” I responded. I tried to hide my anxiety. My heart was beating so fast and loud, it may have drowned out my answer. Mesmerized, I watched as his hand applied light pressure to the top of the hand clutch. The elevator began its upward thrust.

A voice from behind bellowed, “Don’t you stop at the first floor? I need to return these earrings at customer service.”

I stood frozen in terror; too petrified to turn around. The elevator operator stared past me, speaking firmly to the man behind me.

“Sir, this elevator only goes to the Mezzanine or Second Floor. Weren’t you told that by the gentleman outside the door?”

“No, He appeared to be otherwise occupied. Look, I’m on my lunch hour and I promised my wife I’d return these Paloma Picasso’s for her. They’re yellow gold and she wanted white.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing; this man was going to ruin everything. This elevator only ran twice a year. It had taken me months to find out about this departure. Did he actually think he was at Tiffany’s to exchange earrings.

I started to scream, “Get off this elevator”, but nothing came out. I was without a voice. I couldn’t utter a sound. My eyes welled up with tears. I started to sob silently.

The cage came to a halt. The operator’s hand touched down on the clutch as if to begin the ride back down. I put my hand on his, hoping he still responded to human touch. My tears pleaded my case to him. Ten lifetimes passed until he extended his hand and pulled the gate back.

“Mezzanine” was the last word I heard as I exited the elevator at my destination.
Cat vs.  Fish
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