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Delevations (5 linked-fictions)


I Am
It Seems
Separate and Alone
Exiting the Elevator

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poems & stories


By Phlip Arima

I live in an elevator with wall-to-wall carpeting. It has a full-length mirror and fan for ventilation. It might not sound like much, but it's really quite spacious. If I lie down diagonally from one corner to the other, I can actually straighten my legs. It was a great way to listen to the music.

There use to be all kinds of music. Sometimes even lyrics in front of it. Once, some hidden behind it. But not hidden so well that I couldn't hear them. They described this place where candy fell from the clouds. And animals openly cross-bred in the fields. And anyone at any time could walk on their hands without being stared at.

Yesterday I pushed the top button on the panel beside the door. It'd been a long time since I even dared to go near that wall. Someone once told me that computers in satellites orbiting the earth record the fingerprint of finger that ever touches any of the buttons.

That was back when I use to have visitors. Back before the music stopped. They would come into the elevator, take me somewhere, then leave. Usually they didn't say anything. And if they did, it was always a complaint about the weather.

I had to try three times before I jumped high enough to reach the button. I was able to watch myself in the full-length mirror. I looked pretty athletic. It made me want to play a sport. It wouldn't necessarily have to be a jumping sport. It could be a bending or crouching sport. I don't think I could do a running sport. I live in an elevator.

I think people stopped visiting me because the music stopped. Though it could've been the other way around. Some days I think it's one way; on other I think it isn't. The truth is, I don't know that much about music. I've never had lessons and I can't read a score.

After the elevator went up, the door opened. I don't know what I expected to see, but there was nothing. Just stale and dark. Then I noticed a far-off glow. A faint red that said: Exit. As I watched, it got brighter and bigger. It was like a train coming through a tunnel. It came with a wind in front of it.

I started to get excited. I was ready to jump from the elevator and greet it with words I remembered from the lyrics. Things like: Love, love me love, and Yes, yes only you, and Of course, of course, I'll always be true.

I imagined great worlds spreading out in front of me. Glittering cities alive with animated mouths. Vast fields purple with eggplant. Lapis and platinum skies pregnant with rain that smells like laughter.

I realized I was holding my breath. Realized I was getting light-headed and trembling. Suddenly I was incredibly thirsty. I think I was thirsty enough to drink the weather my visitors complained about.

But I knew the Exit would lead me to water. Knew it would take me to places I'd never imagined. Knew I would know the unknowable if I stepped from the elevator. Left the fan behind. Left the wall-to-wall carpeting. The full-length mirror.

I let go my breath. The now bright red glowing Exit, bigger than big—went dark. Gone. Everything instantly complete and total black. And stale. Oppressively frighteningly stale.

Then the door shut.

I Am
By Phlip Arima

Dreaming silhouettes of light, people as negative space on a dark canvas of thought. I talk. My words are soft—more pigment than sound. I can't make them full. I can't give them shape. They don't colour the people I dream—the two dimensionals all around me. The edge of my perception, a solid frame. The volume control part of some other game. I reach out my hand to touch one who is close. It passes through her middle without resistance. It sharpens and flattens when in her light. I study my skin. I can see every line and pore and clinging hair follicle. They are foreign and frightening. Their definition dissolves as my hand re-enters the dark.

The right side of my body is numb. I feel a glue hardening my eyes. I hear something drip. It happens again and then there is silence. I listen intently, wait for more. The silhouettes lose some of their brilliance. The drip sounds again three times in a row. In the silence that follows, I say a word. It has no colour and makes no sound. The drip again. The two dimensionals move into the distance. Static and nothingness. I feel the frame closing in. Drip again. A puddle of pain around and in and through my brain. Darkness. The solid edge. I clench my hand into a fist. A thought turns to action. There is a crash.

I open my eyes. The floor of the elevator is covered in shards of broken mirror. There's a small part of me in every piece. My hand is throbbing. My body, stiff. Anxiety grips. I realize I cannot remember my name. I make a list of words that seem to sound right. I say them aloud. They hang dull in the silence. They disappear.

I look at the wall which was once a mirror. The dry glue on its surface is a meaningless pattern of indistinct shapes—brown and beige with yellow highlights. I cross my eyes and the shapes come alive. They move and shimmer and turn in on themselves. With nowhere to go, they crowd toward me.

Pain pierces my sinuses. It moves into my forehead and vibrates my temples. It intensifies in my eyes then penetrates my brain. I stand. I sway. I tighten the muscles in my arms and legs. I slowly turn around, see only walls. Looking at the door, I will it to open. When nothing happens, I step toward it. I step again. And again. My ear to the door, I listen and wait. A few moments latter, I hear a soft drip.

It Seems
By Phlip Arima

There is a hole. It's small and all alone. I've never seen it before. It's up near the top of the elevator where the ceiling meets the wall. It's close to the corner farthest from the door. It's dark. And it's quiet. I don't know where it goes. I'm not sure it knows I'm here. I don't know that it cares.

I'm crouching with my heels flat on the floor. My chin is on my knees. My arms around my legs. My neck aches. I am watching the hole to make sure it doesn't disappear. I don't know why it would. I don't know that it will. It seems quite content. It might even be happy. I would like to ask it how it got here.

A long time ago I use to talk. I could voice my thoughts. Ideas would come to me and I would play with them. I could undress them and take them apart. I'd put them back together differently than they'd been. I would re-dress them so they appeared better than they were.

I am listening to my body. Its message is changing. My neck is numb. The ache's in my legs. My arms are heavy. The outsides of my feet and all my toes are tingling as if burning in ice. Something in my back is screaming up my spine. I can't understand what it's trying to tell me.

I think the hole is big enough for my thumb. It's too far away for me to find out for sure. This is unfortunate. Accurate knowledge is important. Having a use for knowledge is even better. Better is something I would like to be. It might give me the confidence to say a few words. I would tell the hole it's not alone.

My body is silent. I can't make it move. Even my eyelids won't blink. I can feel a lump inside my centre. I don't know where it's from, but it's cylindrical and the size of my thumb. It's starting to get hot. It's turning to liquid. I hope it will stop if I pretend not to notice.

I make myself think of a place that isn't here. I remember an idea i kept to myself. It's light and full, sweet and pleasant. It reminds me of a world without any walls. It's flowing from me onto to the floor. It might disappear if I take it apart.

Separate and Alone
By Phlip Arima

I cannot move. My feet are still flat to the floor. Also my butt. My knees are bent. My back against the wall. I close my eyes, listen. And again, deeper. I pretend to hear a ticking. I pretend it comes from beyond my empty. It speeds and slows. It gets loud, goes soft. It dissolves. I imagine myself tall enough to touch the ceiling. It's hard by flexible. When I push, my fingers force it away—extended, distorted, pressed out into the world.

There's something in my throat. A tiny tickle scratching. It moves from front to back and around again. And again. And again slowly speeding. It widens and elongates, scratches deeper with each revolution. I open my mouth. A fly flies out. I open my eyes, watch it sparkle through the air—a lapis and emerald jewel on translucent wings. I watch it circle the elevator. I watch it rise. It nears the ceiling. It hits the wall.

I close my mouth as it falls. I want to move to catch it by my hands are fixed to my knees. My arms are solid tubes of bone and muscle and sinew. I close my eyes, hear its wings move the air. I feel a drop of sweat travel down my ribs. Another tickle scratches my throat. I open my mouth. Another fly flies out. I imagine the two of them circling. I hear them hit the walls. I imagine them as they fall. I close my mouth. Open it. A fly flies out. Three in the air. They hit the walls. I open my mouth. A fly flies out. Open mouth. Fly out. Open, out. Open out...

The elevator is loud with wings moving the air. A constant static. I listen as the flies hit the walls. An intermittent rhythm builds. I cannot move. Time takes space. I open my eyes, see a thousand flies. They circle, collide. I focus on one as it passes close. Its wings are a blur. Its legs, stiff. I see it as alone, separate from the rest. It hits the wall—adds another tick to the rhythm—falls. I close my eyes, open my mouth. Fly out.

Slow, I swallow. All sound ceases. I open my eyes. The elevator is empty.

Exiting the Elevator
By Phlip Arima
I walk down the hallway. It's long and bright and lined with dark doors. The one at the end is lit from behind. Except for it, each door has a number where its handle should be. The numbers on the left are odd. On the right, even. Their values increase the further I move away from the elevator.

In front of each door is a newspaper. I look at each one as I pass. None of them has a name. None have a date. None are the same except in size and shape. The ones on the left have photographs of smiling people. The ones on the right have headlines announcing chemical disaster, automobile and space shuttle accidents, the latest death-toll in wars I did not know were being fought.

The carpet is white and so brilliantly clean it hurts my eyes. When I look where I've stepped there is no evidence of my passage. The hallway behind me extends out of sight. With each step I take, the pile deepens. With each step I take, the hallway dims.

I try to pick up one of the newspapers. My hands pass through it as if it is light. I try again but my feet have taken me beyond the door. I cannot stop or turn around. I try again when I reach the next door. My hands pass through as before. I carry on, keep trying. Emotion swells each time my hands are in a newspaper. Those on the left produce a joy. The right, hate.

The carpet is like mud. It rises above my ankles. It clings to my feet. As it tops my shins, I fall on my face. The door at the end is moments away. I continue toward it on hands and knees. I realize it hasn't a newspaper in front of it. Realize it hasn't a number on its face.

I hold my head as high as I can. I dog-paddle more than I crawl. My eyes are level with the newspapers floating on the surface of the floor. There is barely enough light to see their edges. I can just manage to read the print on the folds beneath the photographs: Serene liberation and happiness; Liberating happiness in serenity; Happiness serenely liberates.

I reach the door at the end of the hallway. It's so dark I'm not sure it's still there. I'm exhausted and confused. I'm treading the carpet as if it is water. I raise my hands above my head. I kick harder with my legs. I lunge forward. My hands connect. My perspective changes. The door has a number and newspaper.

There is a moan in the still, a tourniquet on desire.
All content © 2014 Phlip Arima