Monday, March 17, 2014
Happiness in a Box (Fiction)
"Do you need anything?" she asks.
"Sure," I say into the receiver, "how about a box full of happiness?"
"We may be out of that," she responds dryly, "how about some kombucha or broth?"
"Sure," I say, "I'll reimburse you."
"I'm not worried about it," she replies, "I still have about half-an-hour of work to do, but I can be there by 4:30."
"Okay, I'll see you when you get here...thanks!" I choke hoarsely, hanging up the phone.
I watch her through the picture window coming up the grey sidewalk, her angular frame silhouetted against the greying five o'clock sky, a thumb hooked through the amber glass handle of a gallon jug of the kombucha soda I've developed a taste for.
My mouth waters.
"Here, I found this," she says, curling into a corner of the couch and pushing a small, silver box across the cushion towards me, "I thought it looked like you."
It is a silver-leafed cardboard box about the size of a box of assorted chocolates, the lid hinged by a thin strip of silver paper and two delicate burgundy ribbons, and she has written the words: "We went here, bitch people" across the lid with a skinny green permanent marker.
"What does this mean?" I ask, gesturing to the viridescent, familiar scrawl of her left hand.
"I don't know," she answers, "I think I had too much coffee. It seemed funny at the time. I thought you'd get it."
"Do you get it?" I ask, raising an eyebrow, furrowing my forehead.
"I said I don't know what it means. It just struck me as humorous - at the time," she replies, defending herself, lighting a joint she's fished out of her new, taupe Bottega Veneta handbag.
"Cool...thanks," I say, "I can put weed in it."
"Whatever," she croaks under her breath, exhaling.
"You wanna...make out or something?" I ask, unsuccessfully trying to not sound overly eager.
"You have a cold," she says, leering at me through the smoke, sounding vaguely disapproving.
"Well...my snot's been pretty much clear since this morning," I say, selling it.
"In spite of that enlightening information, Charles, I find that, for some reason unknown to me, I remain greatly disinclined towards the idea - thanks though..." she says, smiling a really good fake smile, stubbing out her spent roach.
After she has gone, I turn the box over in my hands, feeling its smooth, silvery surface against my fingertips, surprised now by how heavy it feels. Opening it again, I discover its interior to be lit by a soft, peachy glow that I do not remember from my first exploration of the box. It begins to feel warm and the warmth radiates through my fingers and into my palms and at the same time, a deep blanket of warmth begins to rise up in my chest and I feel something heavy and leaden break and fall away from my heart - like the leg irons of a captive bound for slavery.
"What the..." I mumble.
I cannot fully understand, but I am filled with love.
-date of writing: November 11, 2013