Sunday, April 30, 2017

Short Fiction/Memoir Series, Abby Cohen

Don’t Blame Canada

by Abby Cohen

One of my favorite stories is one about an elevator.  My family had gone on vacation to Canada. (Note: I’m not blaming Canada for what happened, so don’t blame Canada.) 

We were in Montreal, I think. Possibly, Toronto.  Us kids had run ahead of my parents into the elevator. We hit the first floor button as my parents were catching up to us.  So, we hit the “Door Open” button. The doors stuck with only a crack open, and then refused to budge in either direction.  

Through the crack, we could see my parents on the other side. We could speak with them too; although, conversation was impossible because my sister was screaming, “We were going to suffocate and die!” She threw herself on the floor, and continued to carry on, kicking and screaming without stopping. As you might imagine, this was very loud within the confines of an elevator. 

My brother, a young man of action, found the emergency phone. He used it to demand that we be rescued.  Me, realizing that we could be stuck for a while, did what I did best. I sat down, curled up in a corner of the elevator, pulled the book out of my pocket, and began to read. 

I remember it was a book about the presidents of the United States of America with a chapter dedicated to each one, up to the current president of the time of its publication. I don’t remember much detail except that we are supposed to feel sorry for Franklin Pierce for some reason and Gerald Ford was left-handed.  The main thing I remember is the chapter on John Adams who liked to take his daily constitutional swim in the Potomac. In the nude. A female reporter who had been repeatedly denied an interview, showed up one morning, sat down on his clothes, and refused to move until he promised her an interview. Presumably, at some point after she left and he got dressed, he followed through on his promise. Wait a minute. There was a female reporter? In what year?


  1. I love this story. I can't say with any certainty what I might have done if stuck in an elevator with my siblings; however, I know for certain I would not have been the sister in the corner calmly reading a book!

  2. I love how you show the different personalities of the three kids. I might also have been the one curled up in the corner--daydreaming of escape.