When I was eight years old, I got stuck in a lift in Malta. It was a really old, rusty, shuddering lift with plenty of previous ‘incidents’ under it’s belt, so it really should not have come as any great surprise. I was alone. I’d convinced my parents to let me run up to the hotel room by myself to get something- I don’t remember what- and I’d promised not to use the lift. But I really wanted to use that lift! I really wanted to prove I could do it. I was brave enough. I was prepared. I’d seen my parents jam their fingers on two buttons at once to get the lift to creak and groan it’s way to the next floor. I’d seen them step down carefully, avoiding the inner mechanisms of the lift shaft. I was more than convinced I could do it too, should the lift stop for me. Which I was sure it wouldn’t.
But it did.
Standing alone in that lift, the lights started to flicker a little before pop! All was dim and still. It was daytime, but not inside that lift. An emergency light may have come on at this point, as in my memory the light in the lift was a dull green. I quickly pressed the alarm button, and then two other buttons at the same time, expecting the lift to carry on it’s reluctant journey to the next floor. It didn’t move!
I suppose being eight years old, my perception of this situation was a little out. Immediately, I was terrified. Nobody answered my alarm call. The lift was stifling hot- air conditioning wasn’t on the agenda in Malta in the early 80s. The lift was silent and imposing. The small space around me was growing smaller by the second, and I was all alone. I started to cry, to shout for help. My finger pressed down on the alarm button again and again, but I had no way of knowing if it was even working as all I could hear was an eerie silence. The odd crack or groan from the wires that held the lift, and me, suspended in mid air. Was the lift going to fall? Would the doors open to reveal a gaping black hole of nothing? Would anyone ever come to rescue me?…