Monday, April 25, 2011

My Life as a Box

I don't even know why I'm here. This is a place for criminals. Thieves, killers, confidence men and the like. What I have done was none of these things. The first few weeks I held onto the hope that there would be a trial. The hope that I would have some chance to defend myself. I know now that all I have is what I can see, what I can feel in this cell. There was no talking, no communication of any sort in this place. Even those who had cellmates simply went about their days in silence, ever looking at the dirt floors and away from the light of the small windows that were placed in every other cell at the north end. The residents of those cells had it the worst, and in many cases simply held their hands over their eyes to block out the light. This wasn't natural light. This wasn't sun light. This was something else, something terrible, unceasing, blinding, and there was no where to hide from it, no crevice or corner that wasn't filled with the hideous glow. Distance eased the pain, but it was a hollow victory in this place.

I had been alone for a long time, or what seemed like a long time; I could only estimate the passage of time when there was no separation of night and day. They had brought me something today though. I was almost afraid to see what it was; I couldn't trust them. Perhaps it was cat fur, I thought, but how would they know that I was allergic to cats? I had no official medical record of it. Perhaps it was a noose, or some other way out of this place. I had begged to be let out. I hadn't said a word in a long time, my mouth filled with dust and chapped, but maybe one of the guards felt sympathetic towards me, and was offering me a chance to be let out of my misery. They had prevented anyone else from leaving this place in any method less than torturous, but what did I know, maybe they knew I was an innocent man.

I don't remember the last time I slept. When I close my eyes all I see is that box. It is terrible, and I am certain that opening it will bring about my end. I am afraid. Is this some sort of game? Why was I the only one who received anything? I had no one to talk to, no one to express my fears to. The box just sat there, ever vigilant, knowing that someday I would have to take a look inside, that I would have no choice but to accept whatever fate it held. It was a brown box with no distinctive marking on the outside except for a few dents in the cardboard it has sustained during travel. Where had it come from? I had postured that it was a gift from the guards earlier, but it seems better traveled now. Did it come from the warden? Did it come from a family member; did my family even know that I was in this place?

No one looked at me, and I didn't look at myself, only at the box. Everything else would simply drift away and it was just me and that box. I can't open it. I can't open it. Did I even have the strength anymore to open it? Was it even sealed? I can't open it. As time passed I forgot more and more of my past and thought less and less of the future. The box, which I had situated myself as far as I could be away from, was the only thing I thought about. It was not a very tall box, but it was as wide as I was in either direction. it sat on the one bench the cell had while I sat on the floor, putting me at eye level with it. It didn't move, so I didn't move.

I began to wonder if there really was a box there, or if I had simply gone mad from the lights and the smell of this place, from the lack of nourishment. Perhaps my retinas and burned away a long time ago and I sat in complete darkness merely imagining what I saw before me. I had not seen a guard since the box arrived, or at least I had not noticed one. Was I still alive? Was this place hell? I could not stand to think anymore, only to gaze forward. My body was soaked in the sweat of my fear. I scarcely could separate the smell of my body from the smell of the cell, which had at first been worse than the stench of death to my senses. Now I was a part of it, I was merely a fixture in this place.

In my mind or perhaps in reality the box spoke to me. The box made grandiose promises; the box told me that he would help me leave. I never spoke back. The voice of the box was that of my great uncle, a man I had no affinity for, but who made an impression on me with his foul raspy voice and the way he laughed. He laughed as though he were a sociopath; as a killer would laugh while completing his grandest murder and this is how the box laughed now. It made me ill, though I had no recourse for that. I could not vomit, I could not cry, I could not scream, but the box would not stop and my stomach turned. Could no one else hear it? Or did they simply refuse to believe that they heard it? I recalled that some had packed their ears with the dirt that sat underneath us all, that was damp under the surface and filled with insects. Now I wish I had done the same.

I had finally had it. My eyes were blind to all but the box and my ears were deaf to everything except its ramblings. I had to open it. Nothing it held could be worse than living in fear of it. I got up as best I could, faltering with my weakened muscles. Everything was sore and I had a headache, but it didn't matter, I had to press on. I eventually arrived and went down on my knees directly in front of the box. It was louder than ever now. I slowly looked for the opening, finding two flaps side by side that were not being held down, but simply lay flat. I lifted one and then the other, and there were two more, perpendicular to the previous ones. What kind of hell was this? Could this box not be opened? I continued to lift those two and then it was done. It was actually open. I could hardly believe it; everything had come to this moment. I looked down to see what it was that had become the living specter haunting my life. It was over. It took everything I had to keep from collapsing at that moment. There it was; a pie. A talking apple pie.

I fell backwards and laughed. I laughed as though I were a child who had just learned the virtue of laughter. I laughed like my serial killer uncle. I laughed until there was no breath left in me. It was just too absurd. For the first time since I had arrived here I felt the eyes of the other inmates upon me. The whole world could hear me now. The whole world could see me now. I could finally feel the darkness of night upon my skin again, and I drifted away to sleep with a smile on my face. It was just too absurd. Too absurd.

No comments:

Post a Comment