The Valley, Part 3

(Continued from Part 2)

Over time, the boy grew and became busy with a great many problems and activities, as boys tend to do. He had forgotten about his magic box, until one evening, when he walked past the house of a boy he had known all his life. This boy had never played very well in the games and he seemed sick most of the time, but he had always been friendly enough.

On this evening, as he walked home after a tiring day, he saw a light at the sick boy’s house and glanced over. To his shock, he saw a magic box, sitting openly on a table. It was different than his memories of his own magic box; so he was sure that it was not his, but it was definitely a magic box.

He continued walking past the house, then stopped and looked back, just in time to see the curtains being closed. He continued home and went to bed as usual, but could barely sleep at all. By morning, he knew he had to talk to the sick boy.

And so, the next evening, he went to the sick boy’s house on his way home. But as he approached the house, he became nervous, and the closer he came, the more nervous he became. He nearly turned back twice. He paused at the door and heard a voice in his memory that was so clear he almost thought it was real. It was the voice of the Remahs – “We see you!” But, he gathered himself and forced his hand to knock on the door.

The sick friend answered, looking not sick, but scared. “I’d like to come in and talk to you for a moment, if I may,” said the boy. He tried to say this in a comforting way, since the sick boy looked frightened.

The sick boy invited him in and they sat at a table to talk.

I don’t really know how to ask this, so I’m just going to say it…” the boy hesitated, then said, “but I glanced through your window last night as I walked home, and you had a magic box.”

The sick boy looked frightened again.

I’m not going to get you into trouble,” the boy assured him. The sick boy seemed to relax part way. “But I want to know what that box can really do. I had a horrible experience with mine a long time ago. I hid it and forgot about it. But you haven’t hidden yours, and I need to know about it.”

I’m afraid I can’t tell you a great deal,” said the sick boy. “I only took mine out of hiding recently. You didn’t know, but I got so sick that I almost died last season.”

Immediately, the boy said, “Oh, I’m very sorry.” He felt bad that he had never spent any time with the sick boy. He had been playing one game or another so often that he had never gotten to know him very well, since he so seldom played with them.

Thank you.” He said. “But as I lay sick, I remembered my magic box, and felt horrible remorse that I had never used such a wonderful thing. I decided that if I recovered, I would find my magic box and use it.”

And have you?”

Only a little; just enough to see if it still worked… and it does.”

The boy was now sure; he would dig up his own magic box, and soon.

I am leaving in the morning.”


I have to leave this place, and go away into the wilderness, where there are no Remahs.”

The boy was shocked. “You shouldn’t go to the wilderness. Everyone says that life is very hard there, and you’re so often sick.”

I know,” said the sick boy, “but nothing makes me sicker than the Remahs. I’m not strong like you; I can’t face them.”

This again shocked the boy. He never really felt strong, and he certainly didn’t think he could be as strong as a Remah. He quietly said, “I don’t think I’m very strong.”

Oh, certainly you are,” said the sick boy. “You’ve always been strong, and you are the only one who had the courage to ask me about the magic box. I’m sure at least two others saw it.”

Thank you,” he said. “But do you really have to leave?”

Yes, I do.”

He now felt very sorry that he had never spent time with the sick boy. He had never done anything bad to him, but he had mostly ignored him. He could now see that this had been a mistake, and also that he had let this sick boy go through all of his battles alone and in a weakened condition. He could have helped him; he should have helped him.

I’m very sorry we never spent any time together,” he said.

As am I,” said the sick boy. “And I’m sorry that I have to leave you now, but I must.”

I understand.”

But before I go,” said the sick boy, “I want you to have something.” He got up and walked into the back of the house and returned with a very old piece of carved wood.

I got this from my grandfather, and it was very old when he got it.”

The boy examined the carving carefully. Parts of it were missing and others were so badly worn that it was hard to interpret their meaning.

He asked, “Do you know what this means?”

Not really,” said the sick boy. “I was told only that it was the story of the first magic box.”

Thank you,” said the boy, knowing that he’d try very hard to learn what the carvings meant.

You’re welcome,” said the sick boy. “I can’t carry much weight, so I can’t take it with me.” He stopped and looked both sad and happy at the same time – an expression that the boy had never seen before. “I’m very glad you stopped here tonight. I’m glad I could give this to you. I know that it is important, and I had nowhere else to leave it. I know you will care for it.”

That I will,” said the boy.

The two talked for a little longer and then the sick boy said that he needed to sleep.

As he carried the ancient carving back to his own house, the boy wondered what this could all mean, and worried that he’d never see the sick boy again… which he never did.


Paul Rosenberg