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In the Elevator with Albert Einstein

by Luc Reid

I shouldn't have been up on that roof in the first place, but I kept thinking I could save a lot of money if I fixed it myself. Then I tripped over my own hammer.

The roof tumbled by in a blur as I tried like hell to separate my up from my down. My cheek scraped against the eaves, I went into freefall, and …crack: skull meets driveway. My eight-year-old, Jenna, was playing in the front yard and saw the whole thing. She was probably traumatized for life. Jesus.

And then I was in an elevator with some guy. A familiar-looking guy. "Are you … Albert Einstein?" I said.

"No, no," he said. There was a silence while he studied the elevator buttons, dozens of them, in an intricate layout. "I used to be," he said conversationally, "but you see, I died. Where does this elevator go?"

"I don't know. Up?"

"Up," he said, springing up and down on the floor a little. "It seems possible. Are you dead?"

"I think so," I said. I thought of that last, flickering moment of seeing bits of bloody brain splattered across my driveway. "I hope so."

The elevator pinged, and Einstein's attention leapt to the door. It opened on a … I wasn’t sure. There were tables, with people sitting at them and talking animatedly … cups of coffee … something that might have been macaroons …

"It's a café," said Einstein. "Very encouraging: I'll get off here. And you?"

I didn't know. Einstein stepped out, waving for me to follow.

It was much larger than it had looked. There were no walls, just wooden floors stretching into the distance, and far off, a night sky blazing with stars. From many tables away an old woman was running toward me, an old woman who looked like Jenna, and it seemed to me that everyone might arrive at the café at about the same time.

Before she reached me, there was a collective "Aaah!" and everyone looked up. I looked for Einstein, but he had moved away. Jenna took my hand just as the stars began to fall, streaking through the sky with all the inappropriate iridescence of gasoline in a mud puddle.

"You really freaked me out that day you died," she said.

"I know," I said. "I'm sorry."

Then we watched the sky fall for a while.


Why wasn't the elevator crowded, if everyone arrives at once?

Posted by: David | February 5, 2009 1:19 PM

This is wonderfully surreal. Bravo.

Posted by: Daniel | February 7, 2009 6:50 AM

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