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Eyes sticky, brain clogged up. As usual I get into the elevator with my head down, on auto-pilot. But today is different because her scent is in here. And she’s here too. In a moment of panic I turn my back discretely to check my breath. Only five fruit and veg a month... need to pay more attention to my oral hygiene. I reach out clumsily and press the button for the ground floor just as if everything’s normal.

A casual chat in the elevator is my dream chance to make a bit more headway with her, to move things on a bit… to actually get to know her. Lucy is my neighbor on the top floor. Sunny character and naturally charming, that’s her. Time to focus and quickly find something to talk about. I could of course tell her that she makes me tremble like a cell phone on vibrate, tell her that she is totally magnetic and that I’d like to press up her against a fridge, that I’d die to be sitting drinking a nice glass of wine with her and listening to “Young and beautiful”.

But the truth is I don’t have the guts to say or do anything. I smile nervously, short-sighted without my glasses, probably making her feel that she’s trapped in a cage with Hannibal Lecter.

What I’d really like to do is press the emergency button, toss her a bunch of imaginary flowers and declare that life with her would be an everlasting bouquet of deep emotions without needing to let on that I’ve not looked at Baudelaire and Verlaine since high school. I wish I could stop time, freeze the sounds and images, and run away with her to some place where everything would be beautiful and carefree.

The elevator doors open, presenting the red and dusty carpet in the hall. My brain was jammed. Welcome to the world of failure. Not only that but I could feel that she was looking at me wondering, ‘So Bernard, are you going to say anything to me?’ Given my stupendous dullness, Lucy took straight off and disappeared through the big door opening on to the world outside.

“Always put off till tomorrow what you can do today” would be what one of my mates would say on a good day. So what if I stopped doing nothing right now? What if I ran after her and told her all that’s stuck in my head. Everything goes to fast-forward. I catch myself running like crazy up the staircase, grabbing some gum and all the courage I can muster and then diving downstairs again to go and find her.

Translated by Hannah Charlton

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Herker_hermelin · ago
You're on a long way home, Hannibal !
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