Friday, August 5, 2011

On "The East Elevator" by Nicholas Rinaldi (5720 words) *****

This story is a haunting. I'm reminded for some reason of the end of a movie called The Vanishing. It's got a similar kind of eerie feel in places, and yet, this story is a whole lot more subtle than that movie, for we don't necessarily know where it will go.

The story is about an elevator. As a kid, I loved elevators. I think that's because they were like amusement park rides to me. I liked escalators too. But since elevators were rarer, I preferred those, looking forward to the trips to the local Bullock's department store to use that elevator, the only one I bothered to ride with any frequency, since most others were off limits to us kids.

By age twenty, the elevator had lost its appeal. Perhaps it's that I lived in an apartment building with one, and it was not a thing I enjoyed. Sure, using the elevator to move furniture is (somewhat) easier than pulling furniture up and down stairs, but there's the waiting for it, the noise of it, the people inside it, the boxed-in quality of it.

On weekends, at my current office building, one isn't supposed to ride the elevator, because if it breaks, you'll likely be there for two or three days. In a previous job, a two-hour stay in the elevator is exactly what happened to some coworkers of mine. The elevator is a trap.

This story is about elevators as well--good ones and bad--and elevators as traps. It's about a woman named Lily who finds herself boxed inside and how that changes her life once she gets out. This aren't large changes, but they're there, and we get a sense that the elevator isn't just about moving us up and down a building but also forward, into futures we don't necessarily want to know about. See what's inside the box here at Summerset Review.

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