I live in a world of ups and downs. At times I feel as though there really is nothing else, as if life simply is nothing more than a roller coaster that refuses to move forward. I just sit in one place, rising and falling, constantly at the mercy of whoever may require my services.
Perhaps you read this and think only of how boring my life may seem in contrast to yours. It is true that the task of moving up and down, listening intently for some new instruction on where to go, could be tedious. Yet, when you were created for that purpose and that purpose only, you really can’t argue.
No, I am not preaching at you Calvin’s theology of predestination. However, I, Ottie Colley, unquestionably was made for a specific reason. And that reason is to serve the residents of Smith’s Apartment building in Chicago. The building is small, with only five stories, each with a long hallway. Six doors open off the walls of the hall, which leads down to a big glass window. On each floor the view from the window is different, but from each a small portion of the city is visible. The lowest floor has couches and an old wooden desk in which the owner sits almost all day scratching at a notebook, trying to make the small rent paid by each customer reach the necessary amount to afford each bill.
In the lobby there is red carpet and dark wooden furniture. The walls are covered in peeling yellow wallpaper with repeated images of boats and lighthouses. On the next four floors the carpet has been reduced to dull grey fuzz, though I remember that it once was blue. As for the walls, needless to say they were not always brown, though years of grimy fingers, unbothered dust, and neglect have covered the pale crème color that once created a lovely affect on the place.
As for the rest of the building, I have been allowed only the power of my imagination to figure out what lays in each room. All I see are the hallways and the lobby as I wait for a passenger to pull closed the heavy accordion gate that announces they are ready to descend. Then, I take them where they asked, and I wait for some new demanding citizen to push a button, following which I will immediately make my way up or down to the caller.
Yes, I suppose I have lived a long life. Long and filled with people that carelessly step into my wooden walls and grasp the long metal bars that help them stay standing as they prepare to face whatever it is that will meet them when they shove open my door. Among these people there are a small handful who have made an impression on my. However, none as much as Eliana Ava Henson.
It wasn’t long ago when Eliana first pushed the little grey circle to summon me. By that time the painted arrow had long since been rubbed away by the grease of various pushing fingers. Yet, Eliana knew which button to push, knew that as soon as her little finger did hit the little dot I would come rushing down to meet her. I did, of course. And with a fierce determination she heaved open the yellow gates as her father stood watching, with a look of disgust clearly marked all over his face. Even as Eliana began to pant and frown from the effort of moving the heavy bars, her father did nothing to help.
Yet, the doors did open, and Eliana jumped in, her exhaustion forgotten. A look of pure joy hung on her face as she ran around my walls, her little fingers stroking the wood and the bar, which to her innocent eyes looked like gold. Her father came in, pulling a large suitcase with one broken wheel. Then came her mother, barely able to make it inside. Immediately Eliana guided her frail hand to the bar, and her mother thankfully let me hold her up. The old man closed the bars to avoid making the child take up the task, and as he did he smiled at her. I remember that smile, it was sad and filled with pity. Yet, the smile Eliana returned was pure joy and excitement.