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Jane Hulstrunk and Marge Amey

Hulstrunk_Amey_RE

Jane Hulstrunk
Created using Marge Amey’s story (below) as inspiration

Nothing Happened
By Marge Amey

“Door closing.” The disembodied voice announced the closing of the elevator door. Five women inside looked straight ahead, not acknowledging each other. Three numbers were lit up on the silver panel indicating the passengers’ preferred floor destinations.

With a slight hiss, doors slid shut and the elevator began to rise. In only a couple of seconds, it stopped at floor 3 and one of the woman got off.
“Door closing” came the announcement again. Another hiss as the doors closed and the elevator rose. Again after a few seconds, it stopped. The women waited expectantly for the doors to open.

Nothing happened.

One by one, they surreptitiously glanced at each other, puzzlement written on their faces.

Nothing happened.

Another minute went by.

Nothing happened.

“Should we push the EMERGENCY button?” questioned the oldest women.

A woman in a flowered dress began to show distress on her face. “I am a bit claustrophobic,” she replied. “This makes me uncomfortable. I can’t deal with this for very long.”

Nothing happened.

“I’ll push the button and surely someone in maintenance will come to our rescue,” said a young red haired woman offering what she hoped was a comforting smile.

Nothing happened.

The last woman to speak was dressed very stylishly and seemed to be someone easily upset by inconvenience. She took out her cell phone, but could not get a signal in order to call for assistance. She sighed loudly in frustration. “I’m sure there is nothing to this. In just a few minutes someone will do whatever it takes to get this elevator moving again and to release us.”

Nothing happened.

They waited, again not looking at each other.

Nothing happened.

Soon, one by one, they glanced at each other again, apprehensively this time.

Nothing happened.

It became obvious that the claustrophobic woman was beginning to suffer. Her face began to glisten with perspiration. She started to wring her hands. The oldest woman reached over and patted her shoulder sympathetically. “Try to relax. Take deep breaths. I’m sure it won’t be much longer.”

Nothing happened.

“For heaven’s sake, push the button again,” urged the fashionable woman with an edge to her voice, now plainly very irritated.

Nothing happened.

The woman in the flowered dress began to pound her fists on the door in an urgent effort to gain someone’s attention.

Nothing happened.

“Don’t do that. It may make the problem even worse if something is stuck” warned the oldest woman who was by now perspiring also.

“Oh, shut up. You don’t even know what you’re talking about.” snapped the youngest woman. “Just stay patient. It may take awhile for maintenance to find the problem. Let’s just sit down and wait a bit longer. Don’t panic.”

The oldest woman looked at her and said,” Don’t be so rude. We all have problems and deal with frustrations differently.” She reached over and pushed the EMERGENCY button for a third time.

Nothing happened.

“Damn it, I have an important meeting. How long will this go on?” Now even the take-charge woman seemed to be losing her self-discipline. It was now apparent that the situation was definitely out of her control and she was not happy about it. She began to pace around the small space.

Nothing happened.

“Has this ever happened to any of you before?” tremulously asked the young redhead. She suddenly started to giggle nervously. The others stared at her angrily, not finding any humor in the situation.

All of a sudden, with a clank and a shudder, the elevator began to move very slowly. Then just as suddenly, it stopped again.

Nothing happened.

The ladies looked at each other for reassurance. All of them seemed to be fighting great anxiety.

Nothing happened.

One minute went by, two minutes, three. Now the woman in the flowered dress was extremely distressed and began to cry softly. Again the oldest woman tried to comfort her.

Nothing happened.

Once more, the elevator began to shudder slightly. All eyes opened wide in hopeful anticipation that their ordeal was finally coming to an end.

Nothing happened.

Suddenly, music began to play softly – the proverbial “elevator music.” It did not soothe them.

Nothing else happened.

“Another minute went by, two more minutes passed, three.

Nothing happened.

The oldest woman looked through her purse until she found a tissue for the woman in the flowered dress who was now sobbing uncontrollably.

Nothing happened.

Five minutes passed before the elevator began to feel as if it were silently, slowly moving lower. It moved for only a few seconds then abruptly stopped short. The women reached for each other in an effort to remain on their feet. They looked at each other as if to say “What will happen now? Is our nightmare over?”

The door opened. The building lobby was before them, sunshine pouring in through the large glass front doors. Standing in a row just outside of the elevator door were four men. Each of them had welcoming smile on his face and a bouquet of red roses in his outstretched hand. One of the men stepped forward, held his free hand out, and helped the nearest woman step out of the elevator. “Welcome and congratulations,” he said, presenting her with his flowers, “You passed, “All of the men then began clapping.

The woman looked at the man and then back at the other women.

One by one, each man greeted one of the women, helped her exit the elevator, and presented her with roses. At the end of what seemed to be a ceremony of some kind, the men bowed, turned, and without another word, walked away.

Nothing else happened.

Louise leaned back in her chair, stretched, and ran her fingers through her hair. She shook her head and grimaced. “That storyline is going no where,” she sighed. She hit the delete key and went into the kitchen for more coffee.

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Jane Hulstrunk_Amey_INSP

Jane Hulstrunk
Inspiration piece provided to Marge Amey

Is the Magic Still Here?
By Marge Amey

Whose idea was this anyway? It’s only day two and already I’m struggling. Did I really think I could come to the country for a week by myself and relax enough to enjoy it? Me? Miss I-Love-The-City? Miss Type A to the extreme? It’s so quiet out here. And at night it’s so dark; not a street light for miles around. Except for an occasional breeze, nothing moves! Can I really survive a lack of the urban stimulation to which I’ve become accustomed?

When Grandma died and I was told that she’d bequeathed her home to me, I was thrilled. I have so many fond memories of coming here as a child. Now I’m back and at this point it’s my house. How do I feel about it now? Does it still harbor its magic without her?

A great deal of time has passed since those carefree youthful days spent with Grandma during my summer vacations. Gosh, now that I think of it, it’s been over fifty years since I came here for an extended stay. Can that really be true? If I’m perfectly honest, I’m now at about the same age that Grandma was when I used to come here for a holiday. But she seemed so old with her soft lightly curling gray hair pulled into a loose bun fastened with her brown tortoise shell hair pins. Do I look as old as she did at this age? I don’t think so but is that only because I don’t wear my hair in that “old lady” hairstyle? Besides, I don’t have any children, much less grandchildren. Surely I can’t be as old as I remember her to be!

As a child, I always felt special here. When I visited, I had the full attention of Grandma and knew that she loved me and was glad I had come. This big old country home had so much within it to titillate my senses. There were many rooms to explore and so many intriguing pieces of furniture that I loved to run my hands along as if I were petting them like a kitten. The surface of the deep dark wood table in the dining room made me think of a road map with its subtle grain lines that I liked to trace with my fingers all the while imagining fanciful automobile trips around the countryside. The silky fabric on the parlor settee felt so cool on a warm summer afternoon. Its rich color made me imagine that Grandma’s favorite dark pink roses had been used in its creation

And the kitchen always smelled so inviting. Grandma would set aside a day when we could work together to make her delicious molasses cookies. I was allergic to eggs and so never could eat most homemade baked goods. But Grandma’s cookies were egg-free and a special treat for me. Just the aroma of the molasses, cinnamon and nutmeg wafting out of her big black oven as they baked made my mouth water. Her sink had no faucet, just a small pump which she would let me operate – up, down, up down – when it came time to clean up the bowls and pans. I felt as if I’d taken a step back in time into history.

I was in awe of her yard and would beg to eat lunch on the back porch so I could be near its beauty. After I’d eaten, I’d get the biggest treat – time spent wandering through Grandma’s garden. I’d help tend her flowers. We’d pull off the wilted blooms so that new ones could burst through. We’d water them with her old dark green watering can. I could only take my turn when the can was nearly empty. When full, I could not lift it. We always played a game in which I would try to correctly identify the flowers by name. I loved the snapdragons. I’d take a flower and squeeze it so that it looked like a funny face with a wide–open mouth. Pansies always looked like funny faces too. As I grew, I would measure myself against the towering sunflowers and always have to admit that they were still taller. And the colors! Orange nasturtiums, little purple jonny-jump-ups, pink hollyhocks (also taller than I was), darker pink four o’clocks, and many different colored petunias. It seemed like I was looking into my Crayola box. I could smell the sweet roses even before I reached their corner of the yard. We had no place near our apartment in the city to plant such beauties, so I considered the garden one of the wondrous places in the country. Besides the flowers, the gardens held the excitement of the colorful butterflies and bumblebees. I loved watching them on their journeys wondering how they chose the flowers on which to land.

After the excursion through the flowers, we’d go to the back of her yard where the vegetables were growing. We’d pick whatever Grandma wanted to serve for supper – maybe green or yellow beans, corn or beets. I especially loved the green peas. I couldn’t help but eat some of them raw when I was supposed to be shucking them for the meal. So sweet! And I’d forgotten how delicious the fresh lettuce and tomatoes were in our nightly salads. Funny, I just remembered how Grandma taught me to sprinkle sugar on the lettuce leaves, then roll them up and eat them like a jelly roll. What a special treat! I haven’t thought of that in years. Again, I feel like I’m stepping back into another time. This was basic life. I felt then that I’d come to where it all begins.

At bedtime, I loved taking a bath in her big four-legged tub that was so tall I had to be lifted into it. Later in the big bed in my aunt’s childhood bedroom, I’d drift off to sleep on the crisp freshly ironed cotton sheets with lacy edges. I felt like a princess.

Now, here I am again. I wonder if I could live here all of the time. It wouldn’t be practical to keep the house just for an occasional visit. But could I be happy here without Grandma? Is she really such a part of the house that it would feel empty with only her spirit? Would I be able to feel like a princess again? Could I maintain these wondrous gardens properly? Would I enjoy some of the inconvenience of the vintage kitchen appliances or be willing to accept the expense of replacing them? Would I get used to the stillness and serenity of this bucolic existence? Or would I be spooked by the inky darkness surrounding it in the evenings? I admit to being a bit of a loner, but could I get by without seeing my city friends? Would I be satisfied keeping in touch with them only electronically? It’s just a two hour drive from the city. They might like to come here for a day or two to relax. But then, would I enjoy being a constant hostess? Or should I just drive into town and visit the local realtor and be done with it? Oh how I wish Grandma was still here. I know she would help me answer all of my fears and questions. As I sit here on the porch, listening to the call of the crickets, I feel such a conflict of emotions. It is a dilemma I wish I did not have to resolve. I do know that it is a decision I cannot make too quickly. So for now, I’ll just sit here and enjoy my sentimental thoughts and say “Thank you, Grandma.” I know she will hear me and she’ll be fine with whatever I finally decide.

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