Qia works hard. She enjoys most of her work and she enjoys time off too. She enjoys many activities.
She wakes one day and she is in a space. It is not inside: no ceiling. It is not outside: no clouds or sky or sun or moon.
She is standing in a box. There are more boxes for as far as she can see. They are made of wood. Some are plain and some are ornate. Some are inlaid or carved. Some have rare wood.
She steps from box to box. They are up to her thighs. She is careful. Some are beautiful.
A male voice says “You need to pick a box.”
Some are square, a triangle, octagonal. All shapes.
“You need to pick a box.”
“I am looking.” says Qia. She doesn’t want to pick one. She wants to look at them and examine them. She could spend years looking.
“You need to pick one and stay.” Says the voice. “Sit down.”
Qia starts to sit but feels panicky instantly. “It’s too small.” she says.
“If you sit down and put your head to the side, you will fit.” says the male voice.
Qia has a vision of someone nailing a lid on the box. She is not going to obey. Who is this male voice telling her what to do?
Qia wakes laughing at the dream. But she thinks about it.
Qia tells a few people about her dream.
Her massage person says, “Maybe you need to kick a box.” Her kicking muscles are very very tight this week.
She laughs, but she does go home and kick a box. It helps some, but the male in the dream is a part of herself.
One woman says,”That dream would mean that I needed to pick a box.”
Qia doesn’t like that idea. But she considers it as she continues working. The boxes are too small and claustrophobic and yet, the male voice is part of her. How can she satisfy everyone including herself?
Qia thinks carefully.
Qia is happy. A solution appears, when a third person comments.
Qia is at work. The woods are there. Deer, grass, birds. Roses are there. The ocean is there too and the Beloved, in the shape of a dolphin or a horse or a deer or an orca. She works, happy.
Men come. If she doesn’t see them first, they might see a bird or deer or the ocean. As soon as she sees the man, she calls the box. As she sits, it is there.
“What are you doing?” says the man, if he sees her first and sees the woods or the orca.
Qia looks up at the man from her seat in the box. If the man likes women to smile, she smiles. Some men like her to look frightened; she can do that too. Some men want dull or mean or subservient.
When she sees the men first, they see a good girl, sitting in a box.
When the men see her first, they are upset for a moment. They saw a bird, an orca, the ocean. But then they see a good girl, in a box. Some shake their heads and think that they had too much to drink or smoked too much the night before. But Qia is a good girl.
A few, a very few men, don’t trigger a box. She sees them. They see her. They see the deer or the orca. They have animals and forests or mountains or stars with them. They don’t say much.
Qia thought at first that she would have to change for each man. Change into energy, into a star, to fly as fast as light, to the box appropriate to that man. But then she thought, no, she could just move the boxes. And the men have stopped hammering lids down, mostly. When they used to seal women in, the women were not available for cooking or housework or admiring the men or sex. They often died, suffocated or killed themselves. So most boxes have no bottom and have straps for the woman’s shoulders, so that she can do the housework while she wears the box. The consequence, of course, is that many women escape, running like rabbits into the woods. Or they switch from box to box, almost like Qia. But many women do not feel safe unless they are wearing one of the wooden boxes.
Qia is happy. She wears wooden boxes for the men when she has to. She is a good girl. But the box she has chosen is the universe.