On a trip to Alabama, I found a toy soldier. He lives inside a little box. The box is locked from the inside. At first, I wasn’t sure if he was in there. A pair of eyes with a blank stare and emotionless face is painted on this little box. That little box is almost sound proof. Sounds can get in, but they very rarely make it out. The lady that has the box assures me that my toy soldier is in there. She tells me that he is bad and if he is out of line I should just hit the box, he will only respond to discipline like soldiers do. I take my toy soldier home, on the drive I don’t hear a sound. Every once in a while I catch those painted eyes staring in my direction, I wonder if he can see me. I smile but his face doesn’t change, I mean it is painted that way. Every once in a while there is slow intentional blink.
When I get home, I try and open the box so we can play a game. I forgot It’s locked from the inside, I am not sure how it got that way. I can’t get in and he won’t come out. And this painted face doesn’t change, it doesn’t smile, it doesn’t laugh. When I pick up the box, my toy soldier moves. He stiffens, he is made of plastic it is hard and rough around the edges. I hug the box, hoping that one day he will come out. I can hear him crying in there sometimes, His frustrated screams sound angry. Maybe he is trying to come out of his box but can’t find the key. I just want to hold him, but he doesn’t like to be held, that plastic is so hard and pokes through the box when you try to pick him up. I spend my days thinking of how to get that box open, it almost consumes me. The other night I dreamed about him. My little toy soldier and I were locked in the box together. There was no key or knob to turn. We were trapped in the box, in the dark together. We were yelling for help, but that sound proof box just won’t let our voices out.
The next morning I decide I am going to play with the box, even if my toy soldier won’t come out. Even if that hard plastic is tough to get used to. Thinking of him alone in there is just too much for me to bear. Family friends play with him too, at first, my sons don’t believe he is in there. I convince them to take care of and play with the box anyway. My little soldier doesn’t like kisses or hugs. The days pass and I notice that little box likes to see One day I catch those painted eyes staring at me. I pick up the box intending to kiss it, and when my soldier pulled away I grabbed him tighter and instead of kissing him I blew a raspberry on his cheek. I don’t want to scare him if he is in there. It is a really quiet soldier.