The following is another short essay on real life events.
The telltale "ding" alerts the growing after-lunch crowd situated in the lobby. They migrate towards the opening elevator as I toil with the option of including myself or hanging back. It's one of those decisions that holds much more weight in retrospect. At this point my only concern is whether or not my body will be one too many. At the last second I decide to go.
I should have waited.
I force my arm to stay straight but it would rather rise and shield my nose from what is clearly the recycled aura of a dozen consumed lunches. But at the risk of offending someone, I just try not to breathe.
My eyes scan my fellow passengers and I smile to myself. Sure enough, other than two of them in the opposite corner whispering to each other, it seems like everyone is looking up, scrutinizing the lighted numbers above the door as if this highly procedural event might veer from normal. Funny how we do things on autopilot.
The doors open and people file out. More people. Like water, they pour out until the glass is almost empty. Almost.
His energy is palpable and haunting. It grabs at me like a bitter wind and I'm instantly defenseless. He stands there on the opposite side of the elevator. Staring.
The fight or flight zings my adrenaline and I labor to remain clear headed. The stairs. Get away!
Like a robot, my hand goes up to halt the closing doors. I step off the elevator and feel a sense of victory at the distance I'm putting between him and me. I stride towards the stairwell. As I grab the doorknob, I steal a quick glance to my left. His face is inches from mine! I'm mystified by his stealth and how he got here, undetected by my hypervigilance.
He doesn't speak. I don't speak. I let go of the doorknob. Alone, in the stairwell? With him?
The adrenaline is now palpable. It propels me down the hall towards a closed door. I open it and with a dry throat, relay my anxiety to an apathetic secretary. Only later will it occur to me how inappropriate her inaction is to me, a young woman in trouble.
Eventually, I peak my head out the door into an empty hallway and tentatively work my way upstairs to the office and the comfort of my coworkers.
And this becomes etched as one of the most terrifying days of my life.
Any scary moments you'd like to share?