Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Fragments of a living box

Do you have any idea how lonely a thing a Living Box is?
I bought the box in my favorite Curio shop, and Zola told me it was a Living Box and all it did was sit there, waiting. It looked pretty in the store. It had a fleshy, squishy look to it - all pink and a little fuzzy like a square peach. It felt like a sausage patty with a heartbeat in my palm, but it was a box. I felt its heartbeat. I watched the spidery blue veins beneath its skin pumping blood through the whole, little box.
I tried filling the box up with other things, because it looked lonely. First, I used loose change to fill the box. The change left a strange, copper-dust residue all over the leathery sides. I didn’t like that, because that couldn’t have been good for its skin. Afterwards, I tried to fill my lovely box with other lovely things I had accumulated like bits of sand in the soles of my shoe.
There was a large, brass button I had stolen off an old lover’s jacket imprinted with a cheerful anchor that always made me melancholy. (Beth lost it in my car, and I had lied to her for weeks before the end came that I had looked for it beneath the passenger seat. I never did until I was looking for a piece of her because she wouldn’t return my calls. Did I ever tell you about Beth? I will. I promise.) There was a fossil seashell collected from the side of the Anthropology building where I had spent days tugging loose my prize from the limestone wall beside my desk my senior year. I’ve kept that with me for years. I have no idea where my diploma went to, but I kept the seashell. (I’ve never been to the ocean, you know. We should go, you and me. We should go before we forget about what we haven’t seen.) Finally, a snowglobe assured me - every time I opened my Living Box - that Rock City was awash in holiday cheer and small bits of flowing white plastic. Everything was happy underneath the lid of the box. I checked from time to time, and beneath the lid, my little accumulated bits looked fine and dandy inside that strange, little box.
Still, no matter where I put it, when the lid to my box was closed, my box looked quite depressed.
I gave up trying to put my box somewhere happy. I placed it on a high shelf between a ship-in-a-bottle that my father had given me for my birthday once and a picture of myself from when I was young.
This, too, just made me sad. My father has been dead for years, and my smiling girl’s face had collected new wounds in the canvas, and I would never be so beautiful again, with such smooth, white skin.

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