I keep it in a box. An old cigar box with little going for it. Someone told me once that I smoked good cigars. I didn't tell him that I bought the box empty.
People like to look at the box. It is beautiful in its own right, stained wood behind brass clasp pizazz. They want to look inside, but I don't ever show anyone what's inside. That's for me. The box is mine. I don't want you to know its secret.
You could try for years and you would never guess the contents of my beautiful box. It catches your eye. They roam around the room, but they settle on the shine. "Stash box?" No, the box holds something far more important than illicit substances.
Would you believe me if I told you the box is the future? That the entire universe can be compressed and stored inside a cigar box. You would think me mad. That's why I won't tell you what the box holds.
I don't look inside very often. I know it's there. I know exactly what it looks like. I can feel it in my hands, heavy and cold. There are papers in the box, too, but papers can be put almost anywhere.
The box is my legacy. Should anyone care, it's there. When I am dead and can no longer keep the beauty confined, by all means, let it out. That's what it's there for. I hope I never have to use it. I love it, but it is my enemy. It washes over truth.
Yes, the box is many things. It is the smell of honeysuckle on a backyard, hardpack fence. It is the taste of chilled chocolate milk. It is cold and hard and soft and sweet, and I WILL NOT SHOW IT TO YOU.
You can keep asking; I will keep saying no. I have shared much, and I deserve this secret. Many times, in dark rooms, ears ringing, trying to still my mind, I have conjured the box in front of me. I have felt its heft and I have held it to my face, tears falling onto the fading Spanish. I have died a million times, and I have so little to show for it.
Light comes through the window, softly, like a spun bottle kiss. It follows me. It rests on the box and my eyes rest on the box and maybe everything rides on the goddamn box. And that is why you can never know. Not while I am still here.
I poker face the world, trying for bravery, falling short...hoping to at least reach dignity. You can take these words and pull them apart like taffy. You can scramble them all up. Cut them from the page and glue them blindfolded...the story will not change. Because it is not about what is in the box. It is about what it means to me. And that is a crucial difference.
I will splay myself wide, open wounds to the world. I will tell you everything. But the box is mine.