Vertical Travel

The summer of no breeze, six men carried an enormous fan up the stairs of my grandmother’s four-story townhouse and installed it in the roof. At night, it hauled in dead air like cloth from a bolt. I lay in bed, hearing June bugs bat the screens.

When my grandmother’s emphysema advanced, she had an elevator inserted at the stairwell’s center. I refused to ride it: through the white ironwork cage, you could see the fan’s blades whirling above. She waved as her tan pumps disappeared beyond the ceiling. We held our breath, waiting to see if she would return.


Ron Nyren’s fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, The Missouri Review, and Glimmer Train. A former Stegner fellow, he teaches fiction writing at Stanford.

Photo Credit: Émilie Gillet

7 Responses to “Vertical Travel”

  1. LenMooring says:

    It’s good she didn’t descend to the basement, angels don’t reside there. Good story.

  2. Sarah says:

    Gorgeous writing!

  3. Eric Wilson says:

    Brilliant! Wonderfully succinct, giving us volumes. I still feel the heat. I particularly liked the line, it hauled in dead air like cloth from a bolt

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *