A Long Travel

I went into the elevator and pressed floor 5. I looked at the doors closing slowly doing an awful mechanical sound like a prison cell door closing. It was always that way. That small way up from the first floor to the fifth was eternal as if someone was rising the elevator by hand. It felt ironic because I could see the speed through the old glass in the security door of the elevator.

He was asleep as always, which was a relief. I wasn’t ready to be a mother and that job confirmed it to me every single day. In the gray dirty mirror, I saw my bad-looking reflection. My scrambled hair with a messy hairstyle done with hurry, my raccoon eyes, and the badly placed clothes, it was as if I just woke up from a very short and bad dream with the clothes from the day before still on me.

At last, the numerical panel showed a bright number five made with red lights. The heavy doors opened behind the old green metal door which had an opaque and dense glass where I could see through it the deep darkness of the hallway. I kept hearing those metallic sounds as if the strong steel cords that kept us in the air were barely holding our weight. When I tried to open the door with my bare hands I felt a painful cold penetrating my skin. That sensation was amplified when I opened the door

Taking out the baby carrier from the elevator was always the worst part: the heavy doors closed by themselves, the wheels getting stuck in the rails of the metallic doors, the small room to maneuver… Meanwhile, that cold darkness surrounded me like a soft and wet blanket. The automatic light in the hallway refused to turn on as if the sensor couldn’t recognize me as a human. It felt as if my dead appearance was stealing my soul. When I pulled the carrier the child complained and I just could sigh. He woke up, which meant a good serenade of cries and tantrums. Although I was discouraged and tired, I pulled the carrier again while I was holding the door with my bag. The light still didn’t work and only the brightness of the elevator allowed me to see the silhouette of the solid security doors of the hallway.

It was the same hallway as every day but I felt something different in the air. That darkness, more dense and cold than usual, indicated to me that something was off. The carrier hood didn’t allow me to see the face of the child but his complaints and cries confirmed to me that the little one was awake and he wasn’t in a good mood. I wanted to look for the light switch, turn on the lights and kill that thick darkness that felt like thin needles getting under my skin. However, the cries of the child were resounding all around the hallway, going up and down the stairs, getting louder with every bounce, and didn’t let me think. So, I decided to calm him down first.

But, when I raised the hood intending to make some cuteness to him, I found a faceless child raising his tiny hands as if he wanted to be held in my arms. The dull light of the elevator was enough to allow me to see how something was moving under his skin and how his mouth was appearing and disappearing from his face as the cries were getting louder. His fingers were chubby and soft before, but now they looked like pointy bones, almost as if they were some weird bird claws. Frightened, I pushed the Carrier with my foot, took my bag, and ran to the elevator. The white light started to blink and the numerical panel went crazy, showing impossible numbers randomly. In the gray reflection of the mirror, I was only able to see the darkness as if I weren’t there. I extended my arm trying to see it in the mirror as my feet were at the entrance of the elevator. Suddenly it made an awful noise, I panicked and jumped backward and the elevator fell down to the abysm, making sparks and illuminating its way like it was running away from me… However, I never heard it crash.

I fell to the floor shaking, wet from cold sweat. Maybe it was that deep dark fog that was surrounding and licking me. I wanted to scream but couldn’t. No matter how much I opened my mouth, no sound came from it. Only the tireless cries of a thousand babies filled the whole place. Suddenly the hallway light finally lit on. It was a warm and pale light, enough to let me see that little child standing up in front of the carrier, crying and opening his arms to me. He was begging to be taken in my arms. He started to cry even more and more. In his face appeared some deep and long cuts that were crying blood where his eyes should be. Afterward, the lights went out and with them, the cries stopped.

In the dense, cold, and wet darkness, I felt the child running to my arms and how he started to scratch my neck with his claws, leaning onto me and feeling his bloody tears going down my neckline while my tears were falling in his head.

Now, my tired arms hug that little child who sleeps placidly after his whims have been fulfilled.