by a contributor
There was a girl who built a box with six walls. The walls were smooth like alabaster, cool like marble, made of beautiful things. Sometimes, the girl allowed people to look into her box but she was very careful about what she let them see. Sometimes, the girl ventured out of her box and into a world where she pretended the box did not exist. In the world beyond her box, she had a family she loved and who loved her but they did not know her. They did not know of the box, its walls, how it was made of beautiful things.
There was a girl who built a box with six walls. One by one she removed the bones from her body, stretched them like canvas, stretched them until they were pale and brittle. She lay in the center of her box made from her very own bones because she could no longer stand or sit. She had a family she loved and who loved her. They stepped inside her box, tried to pull her out but they could not and so they left her in her box made of bones, her bones and before long they forgot her and she lay, alone, her body limp and loose.
There was a girl who built a box with six walls, perfect white walls. There were no windows and no doors. In the ceiling there was an eye and above the eye a sky. The girl ran around her box all day and all night, ran so much her entire body became muscle and bone, no blood. As she ran she looked up into the eye and wished, desperately, for a glimpse of the sky.
There was a girl who built a box with six walls. The walls were smooth like alabaster, cool like marble, made of beautiful things. The girl sat quietly in her box, thought she was safe but every day, the walls inched closer. At first, she did not notice how her box grew smaller and smaller and then one day she did see. She did know. There was nothing she could do but wait for the walls to trap her body between them and then shatter her body to dust and after that, she did not know what might happen.
There was a girl who built a box with six walls, six glass walls. This box sat inside a home filled with a family, father mother child. The family lived and loved and the girl in the box beat her fists against the glass but it did not crack or shatter and the family did not see the glass box or the girl in the glass box. The girl realized she would watch this family’s entire lives pass by and all she would ever know of them would be what she saw from inside her glass box. Then the girl realized she was not alone inside her box and that, she understood, was even worse.
Roxane Gay lives and writes in the Midwest.
See Roxane’s list of 5 Things You Should Read in our ongoing contributors’ series.