#11 Eleven Men and a Box

They sat in the room arranged around the table. The room was feeling pretty familiar by this point, they’d been there before quite a few times. Tom was gone, he’d ventured out to get something or another, but the rest remained, tired and worried.

The beginning of a new task always requires effort, and trying to transition from one state of affairs to another would be a greater challenge than anyone expected. There were so many questions to be answered, and none of them were quite prepared to tackle them. It had only been a few days, plans were uncertain.

At the door lay a plain box made of wood. It’s rough surfaces sanded down smooth, and despite varnish, it seems to reflect light in a subtle way. If the room had been darker, it might have seemed that the box was glowing on it’s own, but in the late-day sun filling the room, the box just appeared slightly lit, ominous in it’s simplicity and unattended nature. No man dared to open it, while all were curious.

Phil spoke up first, asking what they were going to have for dinner. Others grumbled, not sure if they were even in the mood to eat. That first week had been really tough, and they’d all lost a few pounds, although no scales were handy to verify this. They were all sure that in the weeks to come, they’d still not be quite back up to the affairs of the world. They were creating their own world, here in the room, waiting for the right time to act. The right time, they could not know at this point, would come in a flash several weeks from now. It would push them out of their haze, into the world, to meet all the benefits and consequences that they were destined for. But for now, without that flash of inspiration, they sat here. Some occasionally spoke, some told a joke or anecdote, and some were moved to tears at the insanity of it all. Throughout it all, the box remained.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door, and when they opened it, they were shocked at who it was. He sat down with them, and listened as they spoke. It was amazing that now, even though they had questions to ask of him, they did most of the talking. He patiently listened as the conversations gradually turned more light in nature. Someone, probably James or Jack went out to get some food, and they all ate together. He left a few hours later, mentioning that he’d be happy to open the box for them sometime, if they didn’t do it themselves. They thanked him.

Thus it went on for several weeks. The number changed a few times, as people came and went. Sometimes there were nine in the room, other times twelve, and always the meal was exquisite. On his last visit, he did indeed open the box, and the surprise it held flew out at them.

“You’ve really got to get moving”, he told them on that last visit. “The box is open, I’m going on a trip, and this room is awfully depressing in a way, don’t you think?”. They agreed, and left with him. Many went separate ways, but they would never forget what they learned in that room, or from the contents of the box.


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