The Box, a short story written by Lee Dunn at

The Box

The Box

written by: Lee Dunn


On one side of a thick box, there’s a pencil-sized peephole. Through it, one can see the box, the peephole, and one’s own eye. This is because the box is facing a thick mirror.
The name of the box is REFRIGERATEUR. Perhaps its surname is AVIS, with two arrows pointing upward. It is a bit warm in here, but there is a pleasing odour of new cardboard, liberated by the warmth and moistness of one’s own breath.

There’s no sound, no movement, until two feminine bodies walk into the picture. One goes past, out of frame, while the other (in a white sweatshirt and jeans) stands by the mirror and leans against it. They are talking, but only in tones. Like the grownups in the Charlie Brown movies. One is an oboe, the other a cello.

It’s irritating that their repartee will not gel into words, because the notes are intriguing. Miss Cello, as she leans by the mirror, assumes a higher pitch, becoming a violin with a drawn-out keening timbre.
The oboe changes too, and there’s a ukelele laugh.

Miss Cello had entered the scene with arms folded and hands cupping elbows as if cold. As she warms up, she unfolds them. One can see by her bas-relief veins and her sunspots that she is not a teenager any more, though she wears some low-hanging bling.
And then, there are her hands. So beautifully rendered, like those of Michelangelo’s David. Her fingers are meshed, as if afraid of singleness. They tremble a bit, and it seems that the Ukelele has made her a bit anxious. To smooth things out, Miss U plays dreamy notes on the Saw or the Theremin.

As the symphony rises and falls, Miss C unlocks her hands momentarily, then begins to pull on a hangnail that’s on her left thumb. All with the Yang side of her mind. Still speaking in C Minor, she tears it off and winces. The bleeding seems to calm her, and her music is more confident and lilting. But I, the peephole voyeur, watch as she wipes little stripes of blood on the underside of her wrist.

At last, the treble is finally fixed, and I can hear their words.

Miss U: What’s the matter?

Miss C: Nothing….why?

Miss U: Come on. I know you too well.

Miss C makes a crying laugh. A laughing cry.

Miss C: I dream. I dream……

Miss U: What’s the matter, honey?

Miss C: I can’t….I just can’t.

Miss U rushes to her just before she collapses. The lights go out.

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