The Box: A Short Story

A while ago, I was thrown into The Box. There’s nothing inside of it. It has a door, four walls, a ceiling, and a floor. No lights. No windows. No furniture. No blankets. Just a room. A dark fucking room.

The Box.

Initially, I thought it was completely opaque. When they first threw me in here, I couldn’t see anything. It was like looking into a vacuum. After a while, though, I noticed a faint glow coming from the doorway. Light, seeping in from the outside world. It’s dim, but it’s there, and it’s just enough to allow me to see some of my surroundings, or to at least let me imagine that I’m seeing some of my surroundings.

For example, the walls and the floor aren’t smooth. I can run my fingers across them and feel patterns. When the light from the doorway is on, I can vaguely see images. I’ve named a couple of them. Right next to the door is Vanessa. She’s pretty. Great hair, with eyes that appear or disappear depending on where in The Box I’m looking at her from.

Over on the right-hand side of The Box, there’s Sam. He doesn’t have a lot of detail, but he’s there. I see his eyes and a baseball cap.

When it’s dark and they’re not there, I’m not sure if they’ve gone elsewhere or if I simply can’t find them.

I don’t know if Vanessa and Sam talk about me, but who really knows these kinds of things. I’m not that important. Whatever the case, they’re good listeners. Or at least they used to be.

The floor is scattered with stuff. Most of it, mine. Well, I guess all of it is mine, the entire Box, but when I say that most of it is mine, I mean that it came from me, out of me, and none of it is what you’d call hygienic.

It smells in here. It must. It has to. I’ve been in The Box so long, I only know its smell, and to me, it’s neither good nor bad. It’s just the smell of my reality. But I know how awful it must be.

Vanessa and Sam, they judge me, my smell. Probably my appearance, too. I have to look a tragedy, and they must want to get away from me. This is why I wonder if they leave when it goes dark, if they depart for elsewhere, wherever elsewhere is. I know I’d leave if I could.

Hah. Whatever. No I wouldn’t. I had a chance once. After dinner delivery one night, the door didn’t close all the way or the lock didn’t engage or something like that, and so much light pushed into The Box that it blinded me. Seconds later, it went out, but the door…it remained open. And it stayed open. That’s when I realized that whomever was keeping me here had left for the night, and they hadn’t locked me in.

I sat there forever. Was it a test? Were they testing me? My loyalty? My resilience? I stood up, and my right hand traced the door while my left hand traced the door frame. I pushed, and it opened as wide as it possibly could.

I looked ahead, and the only thing I saw was the night sky. I don’t know where it was, but it didn’t matter. The door was open.

I looked behind me.

“Sam, are you there?”

Sam didn’t answer, so I called out to Vanessa.

“Vanessa. Hey, Van? Are you there?”

She, too, remained quiet.

I sat back down on the floor, keeping one hand on the door and the other on the doorway. I didn’t know what to do. Ever since entering The Box, all I had ever dreamed of was leaving it. But now that I had a chance to do just that, I froze.  

In the background, I could hear Vanessa and Sam whispering. I’m not sure what they were saying, but it didn’t seem very nice.

A tear rolled down my face. Then another. Not long after, I realized I was sobbing.

They found me the next morning, passed out between the door and the door frame. Someone used their boot to roll me back into The Box, and I woke just in time to hear the door locking behind me. I looked at Vanessa and then at Sam. I can’t tell you that I saw them laughing at me, but I knew they were. Just knew it. Assholes.

I spent the next so many hours using my nails to try and scrape them away. To make them disappear. All that earned me was bloody fingertips.

My relationships with both of them, they’ve never recovered. I hear them talk with one another, but they ignore me, and I ignore them.

I don’t know how long I’ve been in here now, and I guess it doesn’t really matter anymore. The Box. It’s my home. It’s where I live. I’m not sure I’ll ever get out.

I’m not sure I want to.  

***

Will here: Memory is funny. Initially, the two wall people in the room with our guy were named Alice and Sam. It bugged me. That was a combination of names I knew, but I couldn’t pinpoint from where. I played with this for days, until one day the following lyric from the Beastie Boys’ song Shake Your Rump popped in to my brain:

“I’m like Sam the Butcher bringing Alice the meat, like Fred Flintstone driving around with bald feet.”

And that’s when it hit me: I knew Alice and Sam from The Brady Bunch. (And from Shake Your Rump, apparently.)

That little bit, my brain trying to pair those two names together, made me chuckle.

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