The Box

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I don't exactly remember how old I was when I decorated the inside of the box transforming it from being an ordinary cardboard box that housed a new refrigerator into my own little world.  My mother and father had just purchased a new refrigerator and I claimed the empty box as a playhouse.  What kid doesn't like a place to hide away? I remember the box seemed huge inside so given the length of my ever-growing, lanky legs, I couldn't have been more than 6 or 7 years old at the most. 

I worked diligently on coloring and drawing all over the inside of the box while leaving the outside deceptively plain.  I invited my friends one by one to visit me inside the box.  Everyone seemed thoroughly impressed by the wonderland I had created and they put their own mark on it as well by drawing a little something on the wall.  Because the box was too large to stay inside the house, my mother made me keep it beside the house in an area of the yard that the separated my house from my cousin's house. 

Each day I would race outside to check on my box and each day it was still there untouched.  And then it happened!  One morning I raced outside after eating breakfast and it had rained sometime in the night.  It never even entered my mind that it might rain and what rain would do to cardboard. When I tried to crawl inside the box, it collapsed on me.  It probably was a funny sight to see a huge cardboard box with a set of skinny legs sticking out of it, but I was crushed.  

My cousin, Debbie who was sitting on her stairs laughed hysterically at me.  I kept thinking that she's laughing at me because I hadn't invited her inside the box.  The longer she laughed the more it hurt my feelings. The more it hurt my feelings, the angrier I got. Finally, I accepted my refuge was gone forever and I stomped back to my house breathing fire as I went.  All I could hear was laughter resonating in my ears as my anger quietly boiled over.  When I went to shut the kitchen door, I slammed it as hard as I could. When I did that, I put my hand and arm through a pane of glass. 

I immediately had a "uh oh" moment when I looked down and saw glass all over the place.  I knew I was going to get in big trouble for it.  I hated my mother yelling and so did the whole neighborhood.  I knew this little fiasco was going to stir her wrath.  It seemed like in those days everything stirred her wrath. There was no way I'd catch a break and she'd just let me slide.  She didn't let anything slide!  Maybe a miracle would happen and  I would become deaf so I wouldn't have to hear her yell. The odd thing about it  was that I was completely oblivious to the fact that my hand and arm was bleeding from getting cut on the broken glass as I pulled my arm back through the pane of glass.  While I bled, all that seemed to concern me was having my mother yell at me, having to face my cousin, Debbie again and being embarrassed from having the whole neighborhood know what stupid thing I had done as my mother announced it to everyone. Her voice sometimes hit a fever pitch like she was yelling through a megaphone at a football game. I feared that this was going to be one of those times. 

It wasn't until my mother came running to see what all the commotion was and her bellowing, "What in hell have you done, Karen?" (an understatement, no doubt or maybe just a forecast of my misadventures that lie ahead) that I realized I had been physically hurt.  All my pain until then was emotional. She attended to my cuts first which weren't too bad before cleaning up the mess I had made. The bandages on my arm made my injuries look a lot worse than what they really were.  My wounds didn't require a trip to the doctor or stitches, but the gauze bandages that decorated my right arm was a constant reminder of what a dumbass I had been. I still invoked laughter each time I saw my cousin for days after that.  Each time she laughed at me, it hurt to be laughed at, but each time she laughed, I got a little tougher until it didn't matter anymore.  I may not have found a way to turn off my hearing, but I certainly found a way to turn my heart off so it would stop hurting.  Growing thick skin at an early age was a Godsend to me! 

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