by Emily Preston
“What’s this supposed to be?”
The old man works in his ragged uniform fit for a bigger man, the navy blue faded from time and wear, stained with sweat and grease. He toils on without pause.
“Can’t you tell? It’s an escalator to the sky.” He says, picking up a wrench and settling it around a nut.
“A stairway to heaven sounds much more romantic. Like the song.”
“And much less practical. I’m old, do you really think I could make it up all those stairs without something giving out?” he grunts, changing his grip.
“Well, I always thought these sorts of things were meant to be more symbolic than practical—like the pyramids. Anyway, do you actually intend to get to the top of this thing?”
“Why else build it?” he replies, jerking at his wrench as his spidery arms flap like chicken wings in his oversized sleeves.
“My, you are practical, aren’t you? Well, I suppose that sort of mindset makes for a pretty decent life. So, what’s at the top?”
“The clouds. Some birds. God, maybe. I’ll find out when I get there.” He shrugs indifferently before intently inspecting his work.
“Then what are you going to do?”
“Come back down, of course.” He says, without looking up.