Three....two...one...ground floor. My eyes follow the lift's descent as it comes to rest with a gentle thud. I wait impatiently for the doors to slide open when I see you scurrying to join me. Damn! Why can't you wait and take the next one? I quickly shuffle inside and look the other way. Which?, I demand. Eighth, you answer. Three floors before I get off. Good. I press the buttons. An awkward silence follows. I busy myself with my bag. Like I'm searching for something important. I find a ball-point pen. From the corner of my eye I see you looking at me. Please don't start talking. I have no interest in you. I'm still looking inside my bag. Sanitary pads, chewing gums, train tickets, spare change, car keys, band-aids, old bills.
Where are we now? Still only on the 4th floor! Why are these lifts always supremely lethargic? You cough. I can feel a question coming. Something inanely pointless. That strangers stuck in a lift together feel compelled to ask. Usually about the weather. Please don't start. I'll ignore you. I promise I will. Look, we're on the 6th floor already. Not long to go. So don't start now. You cough again. Oh dear, don't. Ah, yes, I've just found my mobile phone in my bag. I'll start fiddling with it. That should deter you from trying to make conversation. The lift is slowing. After an eternity, it finally eases to a stop. I can feel my shoulders sag with relief as I see you walking out of the door. And that's when I notice. You stuff your mobile phone into your shirt pocket. As if you had been fiddling with it all along.