Pseudopod 345: Boxed

by Donald McCarthy

DONALD MCCARTHY writes fiction and non-fiction. His works have appeared in KZine, The Washington Pastime, Drunk Monkeys, The Progressive Populist, and Cover of Darkness. His twitter account is @donaldtmccarthy and he blogs here.

Your reader this week – Alex Rudy – remains an enigma.


“A few beads of sweat slithered down Trevor’s forehead and he blinked rapidly, a panic attack oncoming. His pulse was quick, as if he’d just come in from a run, and the contents of his stomach threatened to come lunging out of his mouth if he didn’t calm down. He grabbed a pillow off the sofa and placed it over his mouth, screaming. Once his throat became hoarse he flung the pillow back on the sofa and threw himself on top of it. “I don’t cope well,” he said.

He looked across the room, to a small, gray box on top of his fireplace. The box asked, “Why are you telling me this?”

“I had a bad night,” Trevor replied, speaking quickly. “I was with Kim. She had her friends join us. She didn’t tell me they’d be coming. How am I supposed to prepare for something like that if she doesn’t tell me they’re coming? I thought it’d just be me and her at her apartment but a minute after I arrived she said there’d be others. She rattled off their names but I couldn’t remember them. I can’t be expected to just remember names that are randomly thrown out there.” Trevor began playing with his hands, one gripping the other tightly. “I got sick right away and had to excuse myself to the bathroom. I have something going with Kim, something good, and this could’ve easily messed it up.”

Trevor stood up, his legs so weak with anxiety that he came close to falling. He slowly walked across the room towards the fireplace, looking only at the box, as if he would lose his balance should he even glance at any other area of the room. “I couldn’t relate to any of them. I stumbled through conversation. I said idiotic things. My opinions made no sense. I made a fool out of myself. It was terrible.” Trevor reached the mantle, placed both hands on it, and loomed above the box. “I wish that the whole thing could be done over.”

“I can’t make that happen,” said the box.

“Neither can anything else,” said Trevor. “But you can do the next best thing. Get this night out of my head.”

“All of it?” asked the box.”