The elevator was about to leave
‘wait for me’ I cried, running to the bench to gather my possessions.
My laptop bag, a big novel I was struggling to finish and another bag – a hand one. They pressed ‘OPEN’ and waited, smiling as they usually do. I love these classmates of mine; it seemed they were born with a smile. Perhaps, one requirement for admission was a smile surgical transplant in the clinic. Who knows. Now I am in and just as we are about to ascend, Prisca zooms in, hitting the lift’s metallic side. The closing process is interrupted for a millisecond and then the door glides shut.
‘what a speed’ I remarked , clutching my laptop and holding on to the big novel. She smiles exultantly at having made it. It’s not so easy after the day’s work to trudge up to the highest floor where the rooms were. She is still smiling. The others resume their conversation. We are still on the ground floor.
‘Looks like the lift is stuck’ I commented, sending a casual glance to the half opened door. Thing was, the outer door was well closed, cutting off air supply and giving the impression of all being well.
‘Hello! we are stuck in here’
Another voice answered from the floor
‘oh no’ Chinwe’s British accent floated to our ears
‘poor dears. Stay calm.. I’ll inform the technical crew’
meanwhile, someone had pressed the alarm button from within
‘tell jokes’ someone advised ‘meanwhile’
‘no, better not to talk to conserve oxygen’ said another, concern etched in their tones.
‘I don’t think we are in any danger’ and Ziria started a joke or something like it.
‘once a lady was asked what her favourite colour was.
“fuchsia” she replied
“Fuchsia? please spell it.”
“well” the lady said “it’s red. Red is my favourite colour”
Even Prisca managed to ease her taut facial nerves.
‘another joke’ someone called.
‘you know’ I started ‘we have this character, typical comical character called ‘Akpos’ in Nigeria …
‘Hello…’ a voice cracked on the speaker. Fran´s.
´stay calm’ she continued ´we are on it’
I continued my joke
´so Akpos was in this school where he wasn´t doing well. The teachers invited his dad to discuss his poor performance…
Fran again ‘are you touching any button? Please don’t touch anything. Just stay calm and stay put’
‘Fran, can we touch the wall?’
‘How funny’ Prisca said, more distressed than ever.
‘Here, let me help you with your book’ and she cradled and hung on to my big book which I had been struggling to finish. If the lift was doing a pendulum dance, I would have understood…. But her action in the face of a still lift… well, I’m glad to have the weight off my arms.
‘Back to Akpos….’
A sign of relief greeted my words as simultaneously, the lift started descending to the first floor, underground. we came out hastily and when I suggested that we take the lift as planned to the top floor, everyone uncharitably thought I was sick.