I am subjected to nightmares involving lifts on a disturbingly regular basis.
In last night’s episode, I found myself alone in an unfamiliar lift cabin, when suddenly, without warning, it began to plummet downwards, picking up speed, the air whistling past my ears as the cabin lurched towards the bottom of the shaft. Bracing myself for an imminent impact, back pressed against the wall, I almost wept with relief when inexplicably the cabin ground to a halt, a hair’s breadth away from the bottom, and a woman’s arm appeared through a trap door in the ceiling, beckoning me to safety.
At this point, I awoke and burrowed deep into the sanctuary of Lover’s armpit, heart still racing.
Unsettling experiences involving lifts abound in my mind’s nocturnal meanderings. Cabins which dangle precariously from a single frayed cable, rocking from side to side as I hold my breath and silently pray. Cabins which have no walls, little more than unstable metal platforms, which lurch drunkenly from side to side in cavernously wide shafts as I press myself to the floor, attempting to cling on. Lifts which shoot off in unlikely directions at high speed, or stop at a great distance from the exit door so that I have to jump over a yawning chasm to reach safety.
Bizzarely, in my waking life, I don’t suffer from claustrophobia or vertigo. And taking lifts does not perturb me in the slightest: I should know, I take four of them every single day.
The first is cramped, carpet-lined, and coffin-like and conveys Tadpole and me to the ground floor of our apartment building. I should probably be suspicious of this lift in particular, as I’ve read countless horror stories about the appallingly slack maintenance of lifts in privately owned accommodation in France, and to anyone peering through the lattice work of the lift shaft, it is plain to see that the cables are furry. But, thus far, it has never been out of order for a single day.
The second is in the nanny’s state-owned tower block, which got an honourable mention in a recent post on account of the pervasive odour of urine often to be found inside the cabin.
The third is in the Buttes Chaumont métro station, one of the few Parisian stations which boasts a large capacity lift, on account of how far underground the tunnels run, in the bowels of the earth, beneath a former gypsym quarry. Stairs do exist, but taking them is a fool’s entreprise.
The fourth and final lift which I take every weekday is a modern, marble and mirrored lift which propels my reluctant self to the office every morning.
I have never been trapped in any of the above, nor have I experienced any mishaps while travelling in them, so I can see no logical reason for my brain’s uncanny fixation. But no doubt a psychoanalyst would find interpreting these anxiety dreams childsplay: a powerless petite, watching her life rush past her, spiralling out of control, paralysed by The Fear.
Whatever the reason, what I did not need was for lift n° 1 to utter a deafening groan as it made its descent early this morning, jolting me instantly into a vivid flashback of the previous night’s dream.
“WHAT WAS THAT?” shouted Tadpole, nervously, pupils widening.
“Oh, don’t worry, it’s just a silly noise,” I countered, with artificial joviality, trying not to communicate my disquiet to my daughter, lest we end up having to take the stairs up to the fifth floor on a daily basis if, god forbid, she develops a lift phobia.
Thankfully, the lift arrived at the ground floor without making any further vocal protests, the folding door drawing back to release us only moments later.
“QUICK MUMMY! GET OUT!” shrieked Tadpole, leading me to believe I may not have managed to play it quite as cool as I had hoped.
I stepped out of the lift, on shaking legs, and we went on our way. One down, three to go.