She looked down at the cell phone in her hand and sighed. Her battery was at 10% and there was no telling how much longer they’d be waiting to get rescued. Bored, tired and hot; Jasmine Witt decided it was about time to make herself comfortable despite the awkward that was being stuck in an elevator with Richard Gart; her annoying and disgusting next door neighbor.
Richard looked over at Jasmine, slowly taking off her sweater and rolled his eyes. The woman was insufferable, always calling the cops to make noise complaints on him and his roommates whenever they threw a party, hung out at their apartment common room or honestly; breathed. He had never really met her but her actions always made him wary of even saying hello. He didn’t know what it was about him or his roommates that made her hate them but he didn’t think being stuck in an elevator with the woman would help either of their causes.
A crackling sounded in the boxed in room they were sharing, making them both startle. Up above on the ceiling, a light began to flash before a booming voice took over.
“Hello, can you hear me?”
“Yes!” They both yelled simultaneously before giving each other a dirty look.
“This is Fire Marshall Maddigan. We’re trying our best to get you all out but we’re having a little difficulty. A few more hours and you’ll be freed.”
“A few more hours? It’s already been six! You’ve got to be kidding me, right?” Jasmine protested, moving over to the speaker located by the floor buttons were the sound of the stranger had come from.
She received no response and the deafening silence meant that Fire Marshall Maddigan was in the business of giving out information and not answering questions.
“Hello!” She screamed into the speaker, her voice echoing through the elevator.
“I don’t think that’s going to help.” Richard countered, sliding down the metal wall and trying to find a more comfortable spot than how he had sat earlier.
Jasmine turned violently towards him and practically spat, “don’t you dare talk to me!”
Not wanting to start an argument, Richard put his hands up in surrender and kept silent for the next few minutes. After another hour, the box’s silence and ever increasingly hot interior was beginning to make him crack. He was already down to his undershirt, having removed his jacket and button down. Jasmine had removed her sweater earlier but was wearing a long-sleeved pink shirt. He knew she must be sweltering in it.
“You can take the shirt off, if you need to. I can just turn around and face the wall.”
“Wouldn’t you like that,” Jasmine replied under her breath, folding her arms in front of her.
“Fine, I just figured you were as hot as I am in here. This isn’t a vanity thing or a sexual thing, it’s a medical and survival thing.”
Jasmine continued to ignore Richard, although she knew he had a point. She was drenched in sweat and burning up in her shirt. Not to mention her long-legged slacks. Richard at least wore shorts but she’d been dressed for work, not the beach when she’d left her apartment and got into the elevator this morning.
“Fine, but turn around and don’t speak to me again.”
Richard made a small move before keeping himself planted across from Jasmine and the view of her. These could possibly be their final moments alive and he’d had seven, no nine hours of her snarky attitude.
“You know what, no.” He replied.
“No, I’m not going to turn around and I’m not going to stop talking. In fact, you should start talking. Maybe start with an explanation on why you hate me so much.”
His tone took Jasmine by surprise. She knew she was being standoffish but she didn’t guess he would throw out the word “hate.” Did she hate him?
“Oh you hate me,” He replied as if reading her mind. “You hate me because I know there are times I hate you.”
It stung. Hearing him say the words about her made her feel instantly small.
“Why do you want me to answer that?”
“Well,” he began “We’ve lived next door to each other for three years and I’ve only ever met you by name through police reports. So I’m hating you based on that and I’m sure you hate me based on having to call them. Don’t you think it’s time we introduced ourselves and started hating each other based on conversation and a difference of opinion?”
“We already have a difference of opinion, that’s why I call the cops on you.” Jasmine began, when Richard didn’t continue she knew he was waiting for her to go on. “You and your roommates are loud at all hours of the night, constantly sneak visitors in and out of what is supposed to be a safe building with security and just overall disrespect me as your neighbor.”
Richard nodded his head, he could understand her concerns. His roommates, Charlie and Zed, were a cause for concern. They were party animals and womanizers, but they weren’t bad guys. He’d known about a few instances where the cops were justified but not as many as Jasmine did. He was barely ever home.
“Why didn’t you ever just knock on the door to tell us your concerns?”
Jasmine, clearly feeling the temperature rising finally decided to slip out of her shirt. She wore a lacy black bra but Richard tried to keep his eyes away.
“Come on, a single girl knocking on the door of three bachelors to complain? Besides, your two roommates barely get up before noon and I never see you around enough.”
“I work 14-hour shifts, at the hospital. Saint Agnes in the city.”
Jasmine tried to hide her surprise but it could be seen. Richard chuckled.
“Pediatrics in the emergency room. I’ve been training days and working nights. A lot of the reason why the guys have been taking advantage of the apartment while I’m away.”
“Oh.” Was all Jasmine could say.
“Yeah, don’t worry though. My roommates and I will be out of the complex end of next month. They’re getting a house together and I got a new position at a different hospital. A few states over.”
“What do your roommates do for work?”
“They run a website together. Taps, ever heard of it?”
She nodded, she had. Taps was a shoe company that took donated shoes cleaned, sanitized and restructured them into brand new condition before being donated back in useable condition to homeless shelters around the world. Jasmine looked down at her peep-toed heels and kicked them off, she felt like a fool.
It was her biggest flaw, judging others without having any facts. She was sure it was the reason she barely had any friends and certainly the reason why her fiance left her just weeks before their wedding. Cold feet he could handle, he’d said but he wanted to live a positive life.
“You okay over there?” Richard asked, looking a bit concerned.
“Yeah, just remembered something someone once said to me.”
“Don’t judge a book by its cover?” He teased but Jasmine didn’t laugh. He was right and something needed to change.
A loud screech came from the speaker and a familiar voice sounded.
“We are taking precautions and getting ready to start the elevator. It will go one floor at a time, please stay inside the elevator until you’ve reached the ground floor.”
“Whelp looks like we’re rescued,” Richard announced, standing up. The hours had ticked on as they talked and twelve hours later, they had found themselves being rescued and being less hostile towards each other.
“I’m starved, I don’t know about you.” Jasmine started. “What do you say about grabbing a bite together? I feel like I owe you, maybe more than one meal actually but also an apology and definitely an explanation.”
The elevator shook as it roared to life and began to descend.
“Explanation?” Richard questioned.
“Yeah,” Jasmine replied rather embarrassed as she got herself up and looked him in the eye. “I never used to be this angry.”
Richard nodded then joked, “You’re not angry, you’re just a pain in the ass.”
They both laughed and began to name places around town to eat.
Copyright © 2018 by Elly V
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of the author.