The other day I saw what Annie looks like when she thinks she's about to die. Annie is my close friend at work who I caught wearing a Ring Pop last week.

I asked her if she wanted to head down the street to grab a mid-morning treat. We hopped onto the elevator and began our descent.

Annie was regaling me with stories of her baby or some court hearing or something else. I wasn't really listening because I was distracted by her gnawing on the candy necklace hanging around her neck.

Then, suddenly, somewhere around the thirteenth floor, the power went out and the elevator came to a screeching halt. The lights were out and the elevator became so dark that you almost couldn't see the hand in front of your face.

And Annie Quinn Wilson, super mom, afraid of nothing, defender of the universe, SCREAMED.

You guys. SHE SCREAMED. Not just like a vibrant gasp. Not a reasonable yelp. An actual "I just saw the ghost of George Washington" scream.

Then, in her high heels, she SPRINTED the length of the relatively small elevator and dug all ten of her fingernails into the meatiest part of my left arm.

And that's when I had a flashback.

The year was 2011. Annie and I were in New York City for a law school competition. Neither of us were very familiar with the city but we were excited to get out an explore it.

We attempted to go to some touristy place. We were excited to be there. We looked up directions. We took what we thought was going to be the right subway train to the right subway stop. We exited. And we found ourselves in a neighborhood that didn't look all that touristy.

So we began walking around, looking for signs or some indication that we were headed in the right direction. But as we walked, the neighborhood got sketchier and sketchier. People stared at us. I'm sure we looked like deer in the headlights.

Then I heard Annie say, "why does every store we pass have the word 'Harlem' in it?"

We took a few more steps before it fully clicked. And that was the first time Annie Quinn and those ten sharp nails met the meatiest part of my arm.

If memory serves, we then sprinted in perfect unison until we could see the dark silhouette of the Rocky Mountains off in the distance.

We didn't know then, and I still don't really know now (anyone?), whether Harlem is still a dangerous neighborhood. But as we walked through it, getting stared at by dozens of people who did not appear to want to be our friends, everything bad we had ever heard about Harlem rushed through our minds.

And so there we were. Three and a half years later. Those same ten nails and that same meatiest part of the arm, in a darkened elevator somewhere around the thirteenth floor in Salt Lake City. The Harlem of Utah.

Annie: Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh ohmygosh! I'm so scared! What are we going to do!? This is it! We're going to die in here! What about my baby!? What about my husband?! What about my baby AND my husband!?

Eli: Can I have some of that candy necklace?


And then, the lights came back on and the elevator moved to the first floor. Annie turned to the woman who was in the elevator with us and whom we seemed to notice just then for the first time.

Annie: Thank you for sharing this absolutely terrifying experience with us.

The woman nodded and awkwardly escaped.

Annie walked out crossing herself and mumbling what I think may have been the Lord's Prayer.

~It Just Gets Stranger