Spinning in the Right Direction - Short Story Inspired by Sandi Thom Lyrics.
Spinning in the Right Direction
‘Going down?’ He checked as Mia joined himself, Tina and Todd in the lift.
‘Yeah, let’s get the hell out of here,’ Mia said as she walked to the back of the lift.
‘Everybody’s always in such a rush to escape from something,’ he said quietly as he pressed the button that closed the lift doors.
After just a few seconds of downward movement, he pressed the emergency stop button.
‘What the hell are you doing?’ Todd asked him.
‘I’m taking control of my life and getting what I truly want,’ he said. ‘I wonder if any of you three will ever do the same.’
‘I can’t speak for the two ladies,’ Todd said, but right now I just want to go into town and get hammered.’
‘Of course you do,’ he said. ‘It’s Saturday night, what else could you possibly do?’
‘Look,’ Mia said. ‘We’re all appreciative of your appearance as a philosophical stranger, I’m even sure you genuinely want to help. But please can we just get on with getting out of here?’
‘Why such a rush to get to something that so many people do, so often and can never be done truly impressively?’ He wondered.
‘Please can we just get out of the lift,’ Tina said, with her, slightly shaking, hand by her mouth. ‘I really don’t like them.’
‘Then why didn’t you take the stairs?’
‘Just press the damn button,’ Mia said and went to do it herself.
‘Not happening,’ he said and pulled a hand gun out of his coat pocket.
Mia instinctively gasped and jumped back away from him, ending up huddled against Tina.
‘Please be kidding,’ Todd said.
‘I’m afraid not, like I said I’m taking control and getting what I truly want.’
‘To kill three people?’ Mia asked as she held hands with Tina.
‘Relax, I’m not a murderer,’ he said. ‘You’re merely hostages, so you’ll only get killed if you do anything stupid.’
‘If you’re expecting a high ransom for us, then you clearly haven’t done your research,’ Todd said.
‘A high ransom? Are you kidding?’ He said followed by a little laugh. ‘For a single mother who works as a not quite full time admin assistant, a road sweeper and call centre girl in sales who couldn’t sell candy to kids.’
‘Do you live in this building?’ Mia asked with a narrowing of her eyes.
‘You’ve lived in the building for over a year, there’s only fifteen people who live in it, do you really not know them all yet?’ He asked.
‘How do you know us so well?’ Todd asked.
‘Maybe I have magical powers,’ he said with a smile. ‘Or maybe I’m just one of an incredibly rare breed of humans who actually pays attention to other people.’
‘Is that how stalkers describe themselves?’ Tina wondered.
‘Showing an interest in people and paying attention has somehow become a bad trait?’ He shook his head. ‘We’ve become so suspicious of each other that nobody can do anything good without the rest of us thinking they’ve got some sick ulterior motive.’
‘So what is your motive for holding us hostage?’ Todd asked.
‘Would that really make a difference to you?’ He wondered.
‘Maybe not, but I’d like to know why I’m being held hostage.’
‘Fair enough, it’s nothing personal, I needed to do this to get the one thing that matters most to me. My wife has a rare condition, the only treatment for it isn’t available on the NHS and we can’t afford to pay for it. By now the police will know that I am holding hostages and that I won’t release them until she has been given the treatment.’
After his explanation there was a silence in the lift.
‘The stunned silence of sympathy? Feel different about me now?’
‘How will you know she’s had the treatment?’ Todd asked.
‘A friend knows where I am, he’s gone to the hospital with her, when she’s had the treatment he will come here and let me know. It could take a few hours, so we may as well get comfy,’ he sat down in the corner of the lift by the control panel.
The other three all slowly slid their backs down the wall until they were sitting down.
‘So you’re prepared to go to jail to save her?’ Tina checked.
‘Like I said, it’s the one thing in my life that matters most. Enough about me, what about you guys? What’s the one thing that matter most to you? If you never got out of this lift, what would be your biggest regret? What did you want to be when you were twelve or thirteen?’
‘Being a Mum means the most to me,’ Mia said. ‘Actually scrap that, being a good Mum means most to me, anybody who is anatomically equipped to be one can be a Mum, being a good one is the challenge.’
‘Most important job in the world,’ he said. ‘And you already have it.’
‘And when I was twelve the one thing I wanted to be when I grew up was to be a Mum, of course I pictured having the perfect husband, big house etc.’
‘You don’t have control of whether you have a great husband or not, but you can control how good a Mum you are. You go out every Saturday night?’
‘Pretty much yeah.’
‘Drinking to escape from your horrible life, for one night at least?’
‘That about sums it up,’ Mia said.
‘And yet you’ve just said you have the one thing that you’ve always wanted most of all.’
‘True,’ Mia conceded with a nod and a smile.
‘Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should never take a break, being a single Mother can be unbelievably stressful and especially in your early twenties, when all your friends are still acting like teenagers it would be harsh to never go out with them. But you shouldn’t need to get hammered every night, as if you hate your life and you want to forget it. I’m guessing most Sunday’s are lost in a haze of hangover, when really you want to be spending them with your child, especially as they get older and you’ll want to be taking them to places. You earn enough to look after them comfortably, especially if you save money on alcohol. Maybe you could spend a little bit of spare time each week doing something that will make you a better Mum, reading a book about working with children, going on a child protection course or researching places to visit and things to do.’
Mia sat against the wall, slowing nodding.
‘Don’t be like me,’ he said. ‘Don’t wait for something extreme to happen before you realise what matters most to you,’ he added. ‘What about you?’ He asked Tina.
‘You mean, what’s the thing that matters most to me?’
‘Yeah, what’s the one thing you want most from life?’
‘I always wanted to be a vet.’
‘So are you working at the call centre to fund your way through University?’ He asked.
‘That’s how it started,’ Tina said with a sigh. ‘But I only did one semester at Uni, then dropped out. That was three years ago now.’
‘Why did you drop out?’ He asked.
‘The work was too much for me, and I didn’t really like any of the people on the course,’ Tina said quietly, followed by an even bigger sigh.
‘Can you imagine the look the fourteen year old version of yourself would be giving you right now?’
‘She would be calling me all sorts,’ Tina said with a little smile.
‘You’ve jumped on a treadmill, five days of soul destroying, following by two days of liver destroying. That treadmill is not going to stop until you have a bus pass, if you want to get on a different treadmill, you are going to have to jump.’
‘That could be a painful jump,’ Tina said.
‘Yes it could, but it would be nothing compared to the pain of getting to the end of this treadmill,’ he said. ‘What about you? I’m guessing as a kid you didn’t spend too much time daydreaming about being a road sweeper.’
‘Of course not,’ Todd said. ‘I want to, I wanted to be a musician, a guitarist in a rock group.’
‘Oh I see, so you’re working as a road sweeper during the day and performing in pubs and clubs at night?’
‘No,’ Todd looked down at the floor. ‘I’ve not done any performances for a couple of years now.’
‘I’m damn sure the fourteen year old version of you would be kicking your head in right now,’ he said.
Todd laughed. ‘He’d be strangling me with my own Guitar strap.’
‘Why did you stop?’ He asked.
‘After five years of no progress at all, and people constantly telling you that you’re not good enough and that you should get a real job, sooner or later your start listening to them.’
‘It is amazing that it doesn’t matter how moronic something is, if enough people say it then people do tend to believe it. What about setting up a music school, teaching young people not just how to play the instruments, but how to ignore the mass of morons. Whilst at the same time still playing yourself and living the dream, doesn’t matter if it’s a packed out Wembley stadium, or a rundown Dog and Duck,’
‘You actually sound like the teenage version of me,’ Todd said with a smile.
‘I would have liked meeting him, he sounds a lot more inspiring than the downtrodden loser you have become.’
‘He certainly was,’ Todd nodded. ‘The school thing sounds like a great idea, but I’d have to get qualified, get a loan to start up the business, then get clients from somewhere.’
‘Make sure the finish line is where you want to be, then deal with the obstacles. Do you really want to be sat in a bar in ten years time, in your road sweepers outfit, mumbling on about how good you were at guitar and how good you could’ve been?’
‘Definitely don’t want to be that guy,’ Todd conceded.
He got up and pressed the button to make the lift continue its downward journey.
‘Are you letting us go?’ Mia said as she got to her feet. ‘Have you realised how crazy you’re being?’
‘After all we’ve just talked about do you really think I’m the crazy one?’ He said as the doors opened to the ground floor.
‘Based on your words, not at all,’ Mia said. ‘Based on the fact that you’re holding a gun, yes.’
He took a step out of the lift then turned to face into the lift and tossed the gun to Mia. She snatched at it and managed to just about catch it on the second attempt.
‘It’s not loaded, even I’m not crazy enough to bring a loaded gun into a lift,’ he said then turned and starting walking away.
‘What about your wife?’ Tina asked.
He turned and walked backwards, slowly away from the lift. ‘I’m not married.’
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thought provoking writing, stories about the human spirit, morally ambiguous crime thrillers and opinionated articles: http://tiny.cc/reading2escape