Kylee’s parents were noisy lovers. Not for them the depths of night, or a sneakily turned key in the bedroom door. No. Lust had thrived in the fertile soil of slanging matches, the odd wallop, the conviction of both that everyone was after “my Tracy” or “my Ron”. The fruit of their union, who’d practically raised herself while they were communicating one way or the other, was Kylee.


“You what!”

Before the lift had died completely, Kylee hammered two fists passionately on the doors.

“God dammit! They promised it was fixed.” She raised her arms above her head, five foot three inches of blonde fury, pummeling the doors.

“Get us out of this thing!” she yelled, as it came to rest.


James Rutherford, also present, was stunned by the violence of her actions. A professor of psychology, he’d recently recognized  his own slow process of mid-life crisis had begun.  Intuitive/feeling type….these  words filtered up through his tidy brain, his assessment skills automatically triggered.


Kylee turned to him, leaning on the doors, pink from her efforts. Everything about her was pink. Her mother’s clearest inheritance to her was the love of this particular colour. Her suit was short, tight and Lycra. She’d had the fantastic luck yesterday of finding exactly matching shoes. Out shopping to cheer herself up after the bust- up with Kev, she’d run straight into them – who’d have believed it?  –  the right colour, reduced in a sale AND four inch heels! The toning lipstick lay in the left hand drawer of Pope & Page’s reception desk on the seventh floor, ready for the hourly touch-up.


“Got a cigarette?”

James’ hand went to the pockets of his Loden coat, which, as usual, contained his glasses case. He’d never smoked yet nevertheless felt about for a bit before saying,

“No, actually.”

“They take about 20 minutes, its really chronic. You’d think they’d get it sorted. Happens at least twice a week.”

Though he’d never considered, let alone used the word ‘aura’, James would have been hard put to describe the shimmering impression before him. The air was unsettled, charged up.

“So where are you off to?”

She didn’t beat about the bush.

“I’ve an appointment with my solicitor,” he said.

Immediately something within him flattened. He and Vanessa had been together seven years. She’d been his brightest student, so close to his way of thinking their minds were practically fused. Her logic and flawless objectivity were superior to his. A rising star in educational psychology, her latest dissertation was receiving serious attention from several American universities. They never argued. Their sex life, on Thursday night (after Question Time) and Sunday morning (before the papers) was perfectly satisfactory to both. They had reached the stage where commitment was called for. Thus Vanessa was on the way to her solicitor, he to his. The pre-nuptial agreement, mutually agreeable to both, was in his briefcase.


The lift jolted sharply downwards, throwing Kylee and James to the floor.

“Do excuse me!” James was shocked to find his face inches from Kylee’s. Not to put it delicately, he was lying on top of her, and she was looking up at him. An image of a cloud filled his mind, and his heart lifted. For a millisecond he hesitated, then pushed himself up on his elbows, stood up.


The millisecond did it. Kylee, whose whole being was an ode to the gods of instinct, had a leap of intuition. Though it was not to surface as a thought, she felt her life had just clicked into place.

“ Do they know we’re here?”  His voice was higher, he pushed the panic button hard, several times. Then every button.


“Look, they know we’re stuck. It’s ok…..”

She saw beads of sweat on his forehead and continued in the softest of voices  “… take your coat off, fold it inside out and sit down.”

This he did, at the same time trying to analyse why he’d felt so claustrophobic lately. He’d never feared confined spaces but had been noticing a degree of panic in himself in situations or places he was obliged to be. He just felt….hemmed in, utterly squashed.


“New shoes – they pinch!” Kylee wrenched them off. They flew in different directions as she plonked herself down opposite James.

“Now tell me.”

“Tell you what?” James asked, removing his shoes (it seemed the natural thing to do).

“What you’re bothered about,” Kylee answered.

“I’m not bothered about anything!” he shot back, lining his shoes up against the wall and drawing his knees up to his chin.

“You are, it’s written all over your face.”

This was an accusation. Who was she anyway? He looked into her clear blue eyes confrontationally.

“Are you always this rude to total strangers? Does that come with bashing lift doors and screaming blue murder?”

Music to her ears!

“It’s not just the lift, is it?”

He couldn’t believe her impertinence. Yet when he looked at her, he saw simple kindness, real feeling. He was unexpectedly moved.


To his amazement, she reached over, gently circled his ankles with her hands and pulled his legs to the floor. Without a word she put her small feet against his bigger ones, leaning back against the wall. The lift was not quite wide enough so there was a bit of spring and tension, yet there they were, foot to foot, face to face. Neither spoke. Through the soles of his feet, warmth poured into James. He had a sensation of a dam, long-clogged and stagnant, slowly rolling, finally free. Bubbles drifted through him. He had never felt his body to be so comforting, such a part of him. His breathing slowed.  His heart beat back in it’s forgotten rhythm. He was restored.


The lift cranked into action. Upwards they went through the building, their feet together in salutation. As the doors opened onto the 7th floor, Kylee stood, grabbing at her shoes.  Holding her hand out to James, she said, “Follow me.”





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