It was a short trip, and I had all the survival gear that a girl needed - cell phone, chewing gum, lip gloss, and a tampon. Still, the elevator looked monstrous, it's double doors opening and closing like the jaws of a Great White. It was a box, and things get trapped in boxes. Things like little girls with pigtails and mean looking men who spit on sidewalks and smell like smoke and never, ever say please or thank you. Elevators were the worst kind of boxes too. Six walls of solid steel with no way out. Who knew what could happen?
I shivered, spit out my old stick of gum,and took a new piece from the pack. I unwrapped it with shaking hands and chomped on it. The lighted numbers above the elevator door switched from one to the other every two seconds. 15...14...13...12... On and on and on it went. Slow and monotonous. But nothing could convince my heart to follow suit.
Come on, girl. You're fifteen. You can't avoid riding in an elevator for the rest of your life. What will people say? Boo hoo, little claustrophobic Clarice can't stand a half minute ride in a cubical. Well, they wouldn't say that anymore. It was time to get over this irrational fear.
I licked my lips, feeling the bumps and bruises of split, peeled skin. Chewing on them was a nervous habit, but I sort of liked the pain, the little trickle of blood-salt that would tingle against my tongue when I bit or pulled too hard. It was metallic. Raw. Sooo not attractive. I whipped out my lip gloss, smeared some across the gravely skin and capped the little tube shut.
Ding! The doors slid open and for a second my eyes diverted to the left where a sign said STAIRWELL in huge black letters. I felt an urge to run to it when a voice startled me.
"Going down?" I snapped my head back to the elevator where a boy with sandy brown hair, baggy jeans and a Raider's jacket stood questioning me. I relaxed. There was something...easy about him. Passive. Come on in, his eyes said. I'm not scary. I don't even shave yet.
A quick glance around confirmed there was no one else in the elevator. So it would only be the two of us. That was better for my sanity too.
I locked away my fears and threw out the key.
I stepped forward - into my nightmare.