Experiment,  My Brain On Crack


There’s a box I live in sometimes.

My box is just my size. Like a casket. I lie inside it, feeling its smooth wooden sides, feeling safe. Inside my box it’s just me.

I was nine when I found the box. Every night I’d lie awake inside it, breathing carefully through the air holes someone had put in it, feeling the rocking motion of the waves. Every night I’d lie inside the box set adrift on the ocean, always landing on an island where there was an evil wizard who did unspeakable things to me.

The box lasted at least through fifth grade. That was the year my stomach hurt for three months straight and I left the contents of the brown paper bag containing the vanilla pudding snack cup, the baloney sandwich, and the baggie with a handful of Laura Scudder’s wavy potato chips (why never the flat ones?) uneaten in my desk every day while the too-small purple rib-knit top that I wore every Friday got bigger over my already thin frame.

Disappear. Float off to sea, never to return.

I found the box again just the other day. The inside looks worn, in a good way. Someone varnished it once and the varnish has yellowed a little like the deck of a well-loved sailboat. The box still fits me, even without air holes. The sides feel comfortingly close, like a hug. I lie inside the box and feel at home.

When I was nine and then ten, I never knew where the box came from every night. One minute I’d be lying on my bed and the next I’d hear the sounds of the sides of the box being nailed shut around me and the air holes drilled in, the drill coming close to me but like a stage magician’s sword never drawing blood. The box would be set afloat on the ocean and that was my cue to bring in the element of budding ten-year old sexuality that always happened when I was in it.

Fifth grade was the year that Amanda Viera got breasts and the boys all left the room while we girls were shown a special movie. All I knew was that my stomach hurt every day and that breasts were years away, but nightly I’d be nailed into a box that took me to the evil wizard’s island.

The shadow of the box remained with me for years and I always dredged up words like “dysfunction” and “abuse” when I thought about it or almost felt its comforting worn sides, but now I see my box for what it is.

Protection. A safe haven. A room of my own.

I slept in my box last night, whispering a silent plea to the sleeping, loving man next to me that he not touch me, not put his solid arm through my box and shatter its safety. I felt the hard wooden surface underneath my body, softer than any bed could be, and breathed. I feel its sides still — warm, yielding, mine.

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.

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