The elevator wasn't moving fast enough. I watched the dull red numbers change from floor to floor, seven, eight... They seemed to be moving slower, almost like the building was getting tired. A four letter word caught in my throat. I would have let it loose if I were alone. There were two others on the slow ride, a rich grey suit and a dispatch rider. I swallowed the word and began tapping my foot, thinking the elevator may get annoyed and move faster. The suit got off on nine, slowing me down even more. I moved over to the panel and smacked the close door button a couple of times which seemed to amuse the courier. The button was useless. The elevator doors closed in its own sweet time. After a very annoying wait, it began to rise again.
"Running late?" The courier asked. I turned, about to snap at him. He was young, probably couldn't drink legally. He was fairly trim but rather sloppy in the hygiene department. It looked he lost his clipper a few weeks ago. "Yes," I replied, with a pissed off frown on my face, turning back to the console to watch the numbers slowly change. There was no need to bite his head off. "Can you push twelve, please?" He asked.
"We just past it," I said and pushed the button. "I'm not late," He said smiling. I turned back quickly to the young man. Young was relative since I just had my twenty-sixth birthday. He stood confidently in his black knee length shorts, his pullover unzipped open to his stomach, revealing a dark green t-shirt. It was the nicest thing anyone had done for me in a long time. He was not as shabby as I thought at first. "Thank you," I said as pleasant as I could. It was hard, as late as I was, to muster a smile, but I did. A lot of stress faded away at that moment. Here was a little piece of the world that wasn't out to get me. It would be nice if he was a few years older with a better job and good looks. Not that my job was anything to be proud about.
My father's death had wounded me in heart and future. It created a legal mountain whose peak wouldn't be reached until my thirty-ninth birthday. I was rich, I just couldn't touch any of it. "No problem," The courier replied, then he leaned against the far wall and looked away, seemingly uninterested in more conversation. For a moment, I thought I would have to fend off an advance. I looked down at my blouse and skirt to see if there was a stain. Nothing. Just me. A strange disappointment clouded my mind. I would have preferred a small flirtation. The elevator doors opened on fifteen. I sighed and exited, the courier seemingly oblivious to my leaving. "Good luck," he said when my back was turned. I turned as the elevator doors closed. He smiled at me in a soft dreamy way.
Unthinkingly, I smiled back, the doors acting as a comfortable shield for the brief flirtation. Life was good again. "Ella, you're late… again!" Jermaine Okafor spat with hands on her wide hips. Her greying hair, bounced to emphasize every word. I sighed. I had hoped to escape my step mother's notice. Life was bad again. “Accident on Usuma Street," I stated as I moved toward the laundry room. My laundry room, held in trust. "My daughters don't seem to have a problem arriving on time," Jermaine continued with a grating tone. I hated these times. Seven more years of being under this woman's claws…… To be continued