The scent of freshly watered grass wafted through the colony as I walked down the lumpy road to my apartment. With groceries that cost me almost half of my monthly allowance swinging in my hand, I skipped over to the elevator door. I was in a good mood, as I had bought at least a month’s worth of my favourite snacks. A family was already there. A small baby was held by a lady, along with a man who was probably her husband and a little boy playing with his cars on the ground. He had a Band Aid on his left cheek, and another one on his knee.
“Vrooom, raaaaa, crshhhh!!” the boy made such enthusiastic sounds, engrossed in a non-existent Grand Prix.
I smiled at the family and slid to the side as they greeted me. We together awaited the arrival of the lift, which was lost in the many floors of the apartment. Eventually, after a very awkward minute, it reached the ground floor. The doors opened with a sizzling sound and the baby looked at with sparkling eyes, with lips glossy from saliva open in an ‘o’ shape. He seemed to find it fascinating. After letting the family in first, I stepped inside and pressed the button for closing the door. The button for the 5th floor was already lit as I pressed the button for the 4th floor.
The elevator box silently moved up, which was covered by the overwhelming whirring of the ropes. I reached into my pocket to check my phone, when the buzzing ropes stopped. I looked up, and the lights suddenly went out. A loudly muffled sparking went off in the distance.
Chaos soon ensued. The baby started to wail, while the toddler started jumping around in a weird elation. The mother started slowly swaying in her place, trying to soothe the baby. His snot and drool flew everywhere. I flinched as some came flying towards me. Taking out my tissue, I discreetly sprinkled some sanitizer on it and wiped my face, making sure the family didn’t notice me. One can’t be too careless in these pandemic times!
The father immediately contacted the building authorities. As he dialed the number, a red light appeared above us. The emergency light had started to run, thankfully. Now, the baby made sniffling sounds. It seems like he was calming down a bit, and quietly heading towards a comfortable nap on his mother’s shoulder. She was still rocking like a buoy on the sea, carefully moving herself towards her husband. They exchanged a few hushed words and turned towards me.
“It seems the maintenance team will arrive in 10 minutes”, whispered the man.
I nodded and withdrew further into a corner. My claustrophobia started to act up. I was sweating so bad that the lady had to ask whether I was alright. I smiled reassuringly and removed my mask to breathe properly. I didn’t want to worry random strangers about my condition so I quietly took slow breaths. I closed my eyes, and filled my lungs with as much air as I could in this cramped space. Regaining normal breathing, I messaged my mother, informing her about my situation.
The toddler soon became tired of jumping and started to pull on his parent’s clothes. He started to complain about how hot it was. They tried to calm him down so that the baby didn’t wake up. The rest of the time was way too tense for us. The air had started to deplete and the baby started to show signs of waking up.
That was when, like a beam of hope, the maintenance team arrived. My relief was beyond words, as I had even started to feel nausea in the box. The team gave me some water to drink and calm down, and then left. After saying my farewells to the family, I hurried towards my apartment door. All I wanted was to have a good bath and wash away this bad experience.