The Valley, Part 4

(Continued from Part 3)

It wasn’t long before the boy snuck out to the place where his magic box was buried. He went in the middle of a dark, cold, rainy night, so that no one would see what he was doing.

He dug up the box with ease. This surprised him, since he had thought the box was buried very deeply, but he soon realized that he had been much smaller at the time and what had seemed deep to him then, wasn’t at all deep to him now.

He refilled the hole, put the magic box into a bag and went home as quickly and quietly as he could. Once inside his house, he washed the box, put it in a safe place, and went to bed.

Beginning the very next evening, and every evening after, he would close all of his curtains and examine the box. After so long in the ground, it didn’t work very well, but it did work a little, and the more he practiced with it, the better it became.

Then, one night, he took out the old carved wood. As he placed it next to the magic box on his table, he began concentrating, first on one, then on the other. As he alternated back and forth, the box helped him to interpret the carving and the carving helped him to operate the box. Little by little, he regained his ability to use it. And, perhaps more importantly, he was now beginning to understand the box; something that he could not have done when he was very young.

Finally, one day, he realized that he had to make a decision: Either he would tell others about the magic box, or he would always be living falsely. He saw dozens of the other people every day, yet he told no one about his discoveries. He was hiding the best part of himself; never expressing his true thoughts, never showing his true face to them. He realized that this was not good for him, and that he could no longer keep it up.

But he also knew that there would be a price to pay for talking to others about the box. The Remahs would certainly find out, and quickly.

These thoughts troubled him for days, but there was no alternative – he would have to tell them all the truth.

He picked a day when almost everyone in the Valley would be eating a meal in a pleasant field next to their river. He gathered his courage, stood, and pulled his magic box out of a bag.

At first, the people gasped, though only a few of them left. He began to tell what he knew of the history of magic boxes, then he told his story of the Remahs and of hiding his box. As he did, many people in the field cried. He had never realized how common his story was. None of them had ever talked about their experiences (just as he hadn’t), but they all seemed to have experienced the same thing.

Then he heard them again. The Remhas were approaching quickly. The other people became frightened, but something had happened to him. As he had begun speaking the people, his fear had vanished. As he understood that they had all been oppressed by the Remahs, he felt relief: It wasn’t just him, he wasn’t the only weak one; the Remahs had abused them all!

And then he saw them. They were black and red, just as before, but they didn’t seem nearly as frightening, or even as large and heavy.

They still bellowed, “We see you!” but this time it barely affected him. Many of the people began to move away, but he felt perfectly fine standing still and waiting for them.

The largest Remah tried to grab him with his eyes, as he had done years earlier. The boy was startled when he realized that the Remah wasn’t really very strong; he was strong enough overpower a small boy, but wasn’t nearly strong enough to overpower him now. He laughed.

Then, for the first time ever, the Remahs backed-up. They continued commanding the people to go home – which the people eventually did – but they dared not try to attack him again.

As the people melted away from the field, the boy held up his magic box and showed the people how it worked, and encouraged them to reclaim their own magic boxes.

When all the people had gone, he walked home as well.

After the sun went down, he heard a knock at his door. A boy and a girl he had known years before asked to come in.

The three of them talked for hours. They admitted that they had also dug up their own magic boxes, but had kept them hidden. He encouraged them to begin to use them, and to talk to other people about their magic boxes.


Paul Rosenberg