The Box

Death had come knocking more than once in my life and I wasn’t afraid to answer. But every time I had been ready to welcome her cold embrace I was pulled back and given another chance. Never on any of those occasions did I even contemplate touching that damned box. I had seen the miracles the boxes apparently contained and I wasn’t impressed. I wasn’t about to let some flimsy wooden puzzle box likely built in a Chinese sweatshop control my fate. If Death wanted me she could rightly have me, box opened or not.

Alright hell, if its the truth you want, fine. I couldn’t open the bloody thing. I spent months working on it when I first got it because I thought I needed it’s help. My life was a mess and I thought the only thing that could save me was opening that box and having my life radically changed as promised. Turns out I didn’t need it at all. I managed just fine on my own. But heck if curiosity didn’t bring me back to that box every year just to give it another crack. Eighty three years I’ve lived on this earth and for sixty two of ‘em I’ve been flummoxed by a damn puzzle. I fought in four wars, survived three different cancers and married the craziest woman I’ve ever met, but it was a puzzle that stood in my way. My one greatest defeat.

You know what’s most embarrassing of all? When Jimmy, my grandson, turned twenty one and received his box it took him twelve seconds to beat his puzzle. Twelve seconds! I knew that father of his was no good, having a god damned magician for a kid. Like some cruel joke he offered his box to me the last time I was lying in this bed and told me that I could have his third and final look inside. He thought it was a grand gesture but it just hurt more to have him rub salt into my wounds.

Why was my puzzle so different? I had tried all of the sliding, twisting and turning tricks that everyone always talked about working for them. All to no avail. It was obviously sent by some higher power so I even tried praying for it to open. The only thing I never tried, because all along I actually had been strong enough to know that I could do this all on my own, was to have the feeling that opening the box truly was my only hope and I would be nothing without its help. Even when I had first gotten it I had known that wasn’t true.

Maybe as I slipped from this world once and for all the box would spring open and save me. Because the only way that I would relinquish control of my own destiny would be to depart from the land of the living. I couldn’t lie to the box and I couldn’t lie to myself. In the end it would have been nice to have opened the thing just to have seen what it would have offered me. But I doubt that it could have given me a better life than what I had already led. For only I could say what joy there was to be had by being the master of your own fate.

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