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Fiction

11th August 2022

Fiction

2 minutes read

David Galef

Etiology

11th August 2022

2 minutes read

The elevator is narrow but deep as a dream, with a mirrored ceiling. Six-year-old Ricardo and his mother crowd into the last available space, pressed against an elegant white woman and her daughter, who’s twisting around like a rubber band toy and whining about going home.

“Please stop misbehaving,” whispers the woman. “We’ll go to the chocolate store later.”

“I want to go now!” the girl cries and steps on her mother’s toes. Ricardo, whose mom has just come from her third doctor’s appointment (she will die of breast cancer next March), can no longer bear it. When the elevator doors close like a giant mouth on the 17th floor, Ricardo reaches out and gives her a hard spank—to teach her a lesson, the way his mom does.

The whining stops in one breath. At first the girl must think it’s her mother, but the mother’s hands are sheltered in her coat pockets.

The girl peers wildly around as the elevator descends,

Ricardo now hugging his mother’s  thighs. He shifts his gaze toward the unreachable ceiling, which shows everyone upside-down, as if they might fall at any moment. Then he looks carefully to one side of the girl while taking in her blonde curls, her pretty-girl face with its upturned nose, her legs straight as poles, and her expensive blue shorts, of a brand his family could never afford. The pinched hatred he feels is matched only by a peculiar thrill of fear and guilt.

Will he be punished?

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written by

David Galef

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Fiction
Etiology by David Galef
The elevator is narrow but deep as a dream, with a mirrored ceiling. Six-year-old Ricardo and his mother crowd into the last available space, pressed against an elegant white woman and her daughter, who’s twisting around like a rubber band toy and whining about going home.