The absence of light is its own stubborn light.

There were only a few people in the elevator with me when the building lost power. It wasn't just the elevator stopping--everything just went completely and utterly black. It was a bright cold day outside. Nobody had any idea what happened, and the call button was, of course, dead.

Mostly, though, I was worried about being trapped in a lightless box with a handful of panicking people. I'd left my flashlight in my bag, which was on my desk. And the dim light of a cell phone isn't enough to really see or make anything better, but it was enough that we could all have a seat. Someone said we were all going to die in here. Someone else said no we weren't. The first person kept panicking for a while and the second person kept trying to say we'd be fine, they'd restore power soon and we'd get out and everything would be fine.

Then it was quiet for a while, and the girl next to me told us her name, and where she worked, and all those little mundane details that make up who you tell people you are. Then she finished, and it was quiet again until someone else spoke up and gave the same spiel. And so on, and so on.

It was calming, rote, meaningless. I didn't say anything until the silence seemed like it wasn't going to lift. Then I said: but who are you? The girl next to me ventured that they had just said, and I said no, you haven't.

More silence. Then she tried something--really explaining who she was, not just what she did. What made her the only person like her in the world. What the world would be missing if the elevator never left. This time it didn't turn into a series of everyone listing their own traits. It was a conversation, just humans in the dark having real human interactions. Before long they were telling stories like they'd known each other forever.

The lights flickered back on. Everyone blinked at each other and the lights and stood back up and we all hit the button for our respective floors and stood there awkwardly, like nothing had ever happened.

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