Ned tapped his patent-leather shoe on the cold elevator tile, the sharp lights above reflected in the dark shined toe. His long spindly finger consciously rubbed into the smooth cuff at his wrist.
After each second, the pad of his finger made a full revolution around the gentle indentation. His office therapist said it was better than biting his nails and instead of ripping off layer-by-layer of his own cuticles, this was a more productive way of counting time. However, with every passing second, each revolution seemed longer and longer.
Maggie from accounting said he looked better, now that he was seeing professional help. The pale scalp that had started to bear resemblance to rotten milk was now patched by strangled red hair. Even in the slightest breeze, the hair would be tousled, as though so startled by contact it would stick straight up. Maggie thought it was a wiry halo, a little gift from God so now others could see he was a good person. Violet, a horrible, red-lipped, dark-eyed gargoyle who perched on the edges of the cubicles to swoop in and ruin a perfectly good lunch with Maggie and egg-salad, only laughed. Her big nose sucked into her face like a snout, she laughed and said something about Ned’s red hair looking like the genitalia of cat. Ned didn’t fully understand, but it was enough to make Maggie turn the shade of her watermelon and scurry off.
Ned would never forget that brilliant shade of color that consumed her face like a spark of fire, a fire that burned her. It was that face, that dulled light behind her eyes, that kept him and the elevator moving upward. His hand twitched many times, fearing that it’s owner had gone mad because elevators are statically the most ineffective methods of travel. But still he stayed in the very back corner, under the very harsh light of new elevator at Clugerman’s Glue and Home Repair sales office.
Violet was boasting about her office being on the new 6th floor, the one that was coming next May. She swore to anyone who would listen that her office would have a giant bay window, face the water and come with its own coffee machine. Ned wasn’t sure about all of that, but he knew that there was at least a 7th floor. He had heard some construction workers complaining about how expensive the next layering of pipes would be. He told Violet this much, and laughing at him once again, she shook her head and patted the remaining bald patch.
Ned didn’t know why but it made him so angry: her sharp purple nails tapping into his soggy skin, that fire-ant mouth red and painful, that bad smell that came from her neck. So, he went to prove her wrong.
Ding. The doors opened.
Plastic sheets hung down from open wood skeleton frames like moss sleeping on willows. A jackhammer, curled up around a concrete column, its black powerful tail resting easily free from electricity. An airless smoke floated in the air, marking everything it touched in white powder like moonstruck dew. Beyond the haze, Ned could just make out the lake, like blue sand several miles away.
Ned didn’t understand why people like Violet existed when there was a sight like this so close by. Ned didn’t understand people very well in any case, but he knew Maggie would like it. Maggie would like it a lot.