My husband left the house this morning, smiling into summer-whitened morning light. I didn't know the cause for his happiness until I walked into the living room and on our fashionable coffee table, with its blue bowl of peaches, abstractly swirled coasters, and plate brimming with peanuts, was a large, carved wooden box. A locked present, which was immediately intriguing with personal oddities painted on its sides, including all the weird ideas rolling around inside my head, burgeoning evil deeds, the dangerous dolls for my children, the bizarre descending balloons from yesterday, the familiar furniture that disintegrates into nameless soulless shapes every evening. Night after night I couldn't stop those thoughts. My hands roamed over the box, caressing the simple latch, knowing I was inside.
The telephone rang and my husband's disembodied voice said, Whatever you do, don't open the box.
Is this really my husband?
But he had hung up. I studied the box, thinking how I'd been shaped by incoherent syndromes, weather, space, and time. Was I coming to a new beginning? Could I change all the upcoming situations based on my past continuously breaking like china, the white candy scattered in my husband's x-rays, my children's breath described as mixtures of ice cream and apples, the whole day I once hid behind our hedges? The box stared at me. I was called to its dazzle like an exclamation. I flattened my hands on the pulsing top. I wondered if it was alive. The painted figures shimmied, calling, Open, open me. Let us flourish. I pried the cover and something clattered, pushing, pounding, almost a shriek. I threw the lid back. I suddenly understood how it could be raining without rain.