Bewildering Stories

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In the Box

by Laurie Seidler

There is no time in the box. At first I drove myself crazy counting the hours, worrying that I might sleep when I should be awake, trying to keep to a schedule. But there is no day or night here. The bulb in the desk lamp casts a dim yellow light and the lamp is always on. The beaded chain that hangs down the lamp's side makes a satisfying click when you pull it but accomplishes nothing more. If you pull the chain at the correct moment you can get the click to sound in time with your heartbeat. This is quite difficult to do. My personal best is 314 consecutive times.

This is what I wear: a white shirt, grey trousers, underwear and socks. There is a pair of black leather shoes in the box, but their soles are smooth as glass. In any event, there is no room to promenade. When I stand, the top of my head brushes the ceiling. If I stretch out on the floor, my head presses against one wall and the soles of my feet the other. This box was built for me, I think. Sometimes I lie on the floor, wedged into my me-shaped box, and I wonder what would happen if I grew. Would my box grow with me?

In addition to my clothes I am supplied with a desk, which I sleep under, and a chair. The lamp I have already mentioned. There is a commode and a sink. I do not know how air enters the box, as I have never found a duct of any kind. When I first arrived I thought that I would starve. However, I discovered that food appears in the desk drawer each morning. It is not tasty but it meets my nutritional needs. The box provides everything. Tout compris.

The desk is where I do my thinking. There are no writing implements or paper. I have come to appreciate this. Writing would only serve as a distraction. I find I think much more clearly now that I am in the box, and thinking is my chief engagement. I wake up, stretch, wash, eat and sit at the desk. When I choose to, I pull the chain on the lamp.

On occasion I masturbate. At first I was loath to touch myself in the box. I had an idea that I would be watched. But I was young and I could not keep myself from pleasure. In no time I was rubbing myself against the lip of the desk and pressing against the chair. When I sat at the desk I thought of many things, but mostly of intercourse. These days I think of art, philosophy and music. I admire such things as I never did in my youth, because of the box. There is much joy to be found in small spaces.

I was young when I entered the box, and spirited. I could walk for miles and make love for hours. But I am old now and the box is my home. Change is difficult. The box has taught me the satisfaction to be had in wanting what is at hand and the pain in longing for what cannot be. The box has taught me gratitude and shown me the beauty in submission. I was a poor student out in the world, but in the box I excel.

Copyright © 2005 by Laurie Seidler

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