“Hold the elevator, please!” Ozi called, and ran in when it bumped to a stop. “Thank you,” he said, panting. “I actually thought I was the only one in the building.”
As he got no response, Ozi studied the figure in black slim jeans, a yellow hoodie and one of those spike-heeled boots ladies wore. He couldn’t make out a face since her head was down.
“Coming from upstairs?” He supposed she must be one of the models the media outfit on the eight floor worked with. “Didn’t know they were working tonight.”
Her voice was crusty. Like she was dry-throated.
“So, you were here to see someone then.” He wished he could see her face.
“Why didn’t you stop?”
“Why didn’t you stop and help me?”
“Help you? When?”
“The night you killed me.”
Ozi gaped at the hooded figure. Was it possible? How could it be?
Fear slid into him, choked him. Terrified, he punched the ground floor button again; punched other buttons.
“I had an argument with my boyfriend and he dumped me on that bridge. Just pulled up his car and yelled for me to get down. I was furious enough to yell back obscenities as he drove off. Punching those buttons won’t make the elevator stop.”
The calm observation froze Ozi’s fingers on the button he’d pressed multiple times already. “Look, I don’t know who you are…”
“You know who I am. You know because you killed me.”
It felt like she was looking at him, but Ozi couldn’t see how that was possible with her head still down.
Shaking and tears filling his eyes, he tried to explain. “I didn’t mean to….to…I was half drunk…I didn’t see you on time.”
He’d been trying to reach for his phone, but he’d hit a bump, and the car had swerved. Then too late, he’d seen the blurry figure in… yellow hoodie, and before he could stop, or swerve, he hit her.
“It was close to midnight and I was wondering how the hell I was going to get home.” Her voice still the same calm, raspy tone, she continued as if he hadn’t spoken. “I decided to cross to the other side and see if I can hitch a ride back to my place. But the heel of my left boot caught on some tiny hole. I tried to jerk it out but it wouldn’t come out, and my leg was stuck too. So, I crouched to start untying the boot.”
She stopped. Just stopped speaking for a full minute. Ozi heard only his sobbing in the dead silence.
“You knocked me over the wall of the bridge. I tried to grip on the iron railings, but my fingers were slippery and I fell off the bridge and into the lagoon. I think I bumped my head against something and quickly lost consciousness. But you didn’t stop.”
Her voice was creamed with sadness now. Or maybe it was bitterness?
“Maybe I would have had a chance of survival if you had stopped and helped me. But you didn’t. You knocked me into the lagoon, but didn’t care if I lived or died. Well, they dug out my body the next day, and I was dead. I was twenty-four, still had my last year in school to finish, and my life was over. Over, because you killed me.”
He had told himself not to think about it, to try to forget it. He hadn’t meant to hit her; to kill her when he’d heard it over the news. For the last three months, he’d been trying to forget it.
“I’m sorry.” What else could he say? “I’m so, so sorry.”
“So am I. I waited for you to own what you’d done, but you didn’t. Then I realised you weren’t the sort to take responsibility for your actions.”
“I will now.”
“It’s too late.”
Ozi’s heart stopped beating for the shortest second. He knew what she meant. “Is this elevator ever going to stop?”
“Did you stop that night?”
No, he didn’t, Ozi answered in his tortured head. He should have stopped. He shouldn’t have been driving after drinking.
The next day, when they opened the elevator, they found Ozi dead, and a yellow hoodie beside him.