Going up

With her last remaining bit of energy, she flung her body into the closing bus door and squeezed herself on board. Breathless from running down the block, she power-lifted a week’s supply of office snacks and workout gear over the heads of seated passengers and through a sea of shoulders. Navigating around stray umbrellas and abandoned water bottles, she’d eventually find a spot toward the back where she’d assume her well-rehearsed seven-stop power stance.

As the bus PSSSSSShhhhh’d and swayed, she remained in her spot. She remained underwhelmed by the latest batch of tourists soaking in the city for the first time. She remained irritated by the staccato giggles triggered by something inevitably inane on a teen girl’s bejeweled phone. She remained focused on her watch praying that it would tell her it was time to go home, but never getting the answer she wanted.

Half an hour later, the bus pulled up to her office building. The commute was exhausting. The ritual was exhausting.

Her life

was

exhausting.

When the elevator dinged—as it always did—she stepped inside—as she always did—and tried to put on her most believable happy face.

Between the fifteenth and sixteenth floors she tuned in to the elevator music. She didn’t know the name of the symphony, just that it conjured memories of lazy Saturday mornings, cereal variety packs and violent yet comforting cartoons.

Between the thirtieth and thirty-first floors, she tuned in to terrible screeching and broken chains tangling themselves around old, rusted gears. And, as Elevator Crash in D Minor blared through the office building, she was finally able to put on her most believable happy face.

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