by Pyun Hye-Young Translated by Cindy Chen during the monthly air-raid blackout drills: all the lights were out except for the elevator display, its red flicker reflecting on the bank of mailboxes. A flood of brochures, unclaimed mail, and empty cans foretold the building's imminent demolition. The man steered himself toward the stairway. It was best to avoid the elevator, given the increasingly capricious state of the power supply. He had once been trapped inside it during a power outage. He had jabbed at the emergency call button hoping the custodian would come to his rescue. No such luck. He had begun to wonder if the demolition crew would get to him first. Eventually he had fallen asleep even as he willed the elevator not to plunge to the bottom of the shaft. It was not until the next morning that power was restored and he was liberated along with his parcels. He felt spellbound as he climbed the stairs, his upper and lower body seemingly disconnected. While his eyes searched for the outlines of the stairs, his legs bore him upward with synchronized strides. He knew by heart the number of steps between each floor, the rise
Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature & Culture – University of Hawai'I Press
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