Creative Writing Contest Winner: Jeremy Ball

Jeremy Ball is a super-senior at Central Michigan University who is currently pursuing a B.S. in English with a Creative Writing Concentration.  He enjoys writing either pieces that make people laugh, or laughable pieces.  He has been published in TemenosThe Central Review, and Grand Central Magazine. Most of Jeremy’s life revolves around Red Wings’ hockey, and he is also an avid fan of an asinine array of music.  Someday he hopes to either become the omniscient ruler of space, time, and dimension, or teach eager students the benefits of writing down random thought.

Going Up

I’m nervous.  Not nervous in the admit-me-to-a-psychiatric-hospital-immediately-and attach-electrodes-to-my-testicles kind of way, but nervous in the gorsh-you’re-purty sort of way.  Whenever a girl even makes eye contact, my hands get sweaty, my breathing accelerates, and I become the polar opposite of those super-suave guys from the Axe Deodorant commercials.  I guess I’m afraid they’ll be able to look through my pupils and see my pink, slimy brain.

Elevators are usually awful; especially the slow elevators where I’m required to stand close enough to a girl to smell her perfume, but I’m socially obligated not to say anything to her, lest a can of mace appear from her purse.  It’s not like I’d be able to come up with anything especially witty or debonair, anyway, but it’s awkward sharing that small square footage with someone and pretending they’re invisible.  Usually, I stare at the buttons.  They don’t judge me, at least I hope they don’t, and light-up buttons make my inner five-year-old think of Christmas lights.  Once the appropriate button lights up, I know the heavy metallic doors will open, and I’ll be free to leave behind my cellmate and never see her again.  I’m convinced that God, or whoever is at the cosmic switchboard of my life, likes to keep me well supplied with contradiction, though.  My scientific theory of elevator etiquette was tested recently by a rogue girl I’ll never know again.

I entered the library elevator alone, thankfully, and pressed the “4” button.  Soon I was being lifted by that deliberate machine and enjoying that temporary feeling of imbalance that usually takes a few “ginger ales” to attain.  Then, it stopped.  Floor Two.  Two is not equal to four.  Shit.  The doors opened, and she stepped into my elevator.

I’m not sure what I was thinking, but I allowed my eyes to lock on to hers.  “Hi,” she said, walking over and pressing the “3” button.  “Sorry,” she said.  “I always hate it when someone stops the elevator one floor too soon.”

I was immediately possessed by the spirit of Dean Martin, and his cooly intoxicated specter inspired the following response:  “I have nowhere to be.”  She laughed, but I had this crazy feeling that it wasn’t at me, but rather at what I said.  Laughing made her face light up like an elevator button, so I didn’t feel out of place staring for a few seconds.  This girl had the chestnut brown hair I always picture on the mysterious “ideal woman” that has my “ideal children.”  She had the slightly rounded face that says “pinch my cheeks, grandma,” and I’m convinced that her smile could have stopped the war in Iraq.

I have a long-standing rivalry with time.  See, time likes mess with me by making all clocks slow down by exactly 50% during classes, church services, or visits to Grandma, and speed up exactly 50% during hockey games, periods of sleep, and encounters with cute girls.  The doors opened right as I was formulating my Iraqi-smile exit strategy.  “See ya,” she said, “and have a good day!”

“Okay,” I said, trying to remember the last time someone random had wished me well.  “You, t…”  I was cut off by the slamming metal doors.  The rest of the elevator ride was inconsequential.  Hell, it was only one more floor.  Upon arriving on the fourth floor, I had the urge to smile for no reason.  It was like the temporary high you get from an energy drink.  I knew I’d soon crash and realize that a chance encounter in an elevator didn’t mean anything to this girl, but a quick trip to Fantasyland with my elevator bride seemed to be in order.  I had nowhere to be.