The Box

Written by Esaatas
  • 17 May 2015

"Ask him any question before he runs out the door."

His mom suggested that, pouring sauce over rice and eggplant for dinner. Included in her jurisdiction was a small box, for lunch or late dinner.  Taro could see his plate- a small plate, brother of three others- and couldn't help picking at the rice. 

Him was... someone. He appeared not too long ago, asking for food and a roof over his head for a little while. He was passing through, you see. There was somewhere very important he needed to go to. In the meantime, he stayed here and made his keep.

For a magician, it was easy to make keep. In lieu of chores, he entertained. Instead of paying, he told fortunes. Taro's siblings were enthralled with the former, but the adults were only interested in what the future held.

***

Taro was growing up. He was thirteen, after all. He was no longer mesmerized by balloon dragons and cities of aces (or if he was, he tried to hide it). His mom had done her typical you're-almost-an-adult-do-it-yourself. Taro was old enough to ask, wasn't he? And they said he could ask anything, right? 

He caught him, literally with one foot out the door. The magician wore nothing but blue, and was very tall. (Mom suspected he was half foreigner- he towered over everyone he met). 

The magician sensed Taro behind him, poised for a question, and simply turned. The bento his mother made was in one hand. He seemed to know that Taro was in no mood for finding quarters behind his ear. 

Sometimes, Taro still felt like a child. This was one of those times, especially compared to this stranger. When he felt like this, words left him- sulking, refusing to come out. 

Wordlessly, he lead the man to a closet. He opened the door, and pointed upward. It was an ordinary closet, with an ordinary box upon the top shelf. It probably held some ordinary things. The magician probably thought so, and thought little of this request.

Until he tried to get the box down. 

It was slippery, but not in the usual ways. It kept changing size and color. Night, then blinding light- and everything in between. It was easily lost and small, then overwhelming the next. It grew too light to hold, then too heavy to bear.

It's all a trick of the mind and reality. It eludes anyone- even magicians. But in a magician's case it's never for long. He muttered, and wrestled, and danced--

And, finally, finally he got it open. He looked in, and stared.

For his entire stay he said not a word, and he did not break that trait now as he left in a swirl of blue.

He simply dropped the box in Taro's arms. 

***

Taro was upstairs with the box, its contents spilled on the floor. 

He realized now- why didn't he see it?- that they looked alike.

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