The Man With The Black Boxes

As I walked down the dock towards the water, my pace quickened.  I could see it drifting further and further away with each wave that came to shore and rushed back out again. The morning  air was crisp and I felt a breeze rush over my bare shoulder blades.  A chill ran straight down my back and caused my skin to prickle with tiny goosebumps.  I had a blanket wrapped loosely around my shoulders.  I pulled it up over the top of my back and gathered each corner piece under my chin.  I nestled my face into the soft comforting fibres.  I walked to the very edge of the dock and let my toes dangle over the end.  I felt compelled to go as far as I could without falling off.  I stood there and watched it, frozen in place.  I’d seen it many times before: the tiny wooden fishing boat. I watched as it moved away from me, slow but steady. 
I stood completely still as it gently rocked from side to side as it ventured out to sea. The steady rhythm was almost hypnotic.  The glare from the rising sun cast a spotlight on the tiny boat’s contents- black boxes.

 

As I stood there, I thought back to where it all began.  I remembered meeting the man down by the docks.  I remembered the way he first smiled at me with his kind and gentle eyes. He asked if he could walk along the shore with me and I agreed.  We walked and we talked.  He did most of the talking, but I liked listening to him.  After a while, I told him about my white boxes.  I told him what was inside each and every one.  Every hope. Every dream.  I felt as though I could share it all with the man.  I trusted him.  Each day when I returned to the dock, the man was waiting for me.  “Shall we walk?” he asked with a coy smile.  The question that needed no answer. He reached out and took my hand. We walked and we talked for weeks before he told me about his boat.   

 

The man told me he was concerned about my cherished white boxes.  He was worried that they were not safe and that I wouldn’t be able to care for them on my own.  He told me that he had a surprise for me and asked me to close my eyes.  He took my hand and led me down to the end of the dock.  When I opened my eyes, I saw his wooden boat for the first time. It was tied to the end of the dock and it was filled with all of my white boxes. I knelt down to take a closer look.  Each box was carefully stacked largest to smallest. “I did this for you” the man proudly beamed.  “From now on, I will help you care for your boxes, and every hope and dream that is inside of them. They will be safe with me” he assured me.  I was filled with gratitude for his gesture and felt lucky to have met such a kind and thoughtful man.  

 

 The next day I woke up early.  I slipped out of the door and headed down to the dock to check on my boxes.  I could see the wooden boat tied securely to the end of the dock, exactly like we had left it the night before.  My walk turned into a jog as I excitedly approached the boat.  The man was already there, leaning over the side of the boat as if he was working on something.  I took a closer look and noticed something strange.  One of my boxes was missing and instead, there was a big black box in its place.  Curiously I asked the man “Do you know what happened to my box?” The man did not turn around or look up from what he was doing.  “I threw it overboard” he callously replied.  My stomach dropped.  Something was different about the man. “Why did you do that?” I softly asked.  “I met another woman walking along the shore and I needed to make room for her black box too, so I had to get rid of one of yours.” The man’s explanation was matter of fact and cold.  I stood there stunned.  My mind was racing.  I didn’t know what to do.  I slowly turned and started to walk back to shore. I needed time to think.  “It’s okay,” I told myself.  “It is only the loss of one white box.  Look at how many more remain in the boat.” I assured myself that it was fine.  Everything was fine. Everything was just fine.

 

The next morning I woke up with an uneasy feeling. I had tossed and turned all night dreaming of my white box slowly sinking to the bottom of the sea.  I pulled a grey linen sundress over my head, slipped on my sandals and combed my fingers through my hair as I headed out the door.  I made my way back to the dock.  I couldn’t shake this uneasy feeling.  I needed to see that the rest of the boxes were safely in the boat and then I would feel better.  I was convinced of it. As the dock and the boat came into view, the knot in my stomach tightened.  Three more white boxes were missing and were again replaced by three more black boxes. I could feel my fingertips tingling  as panic filled my body.  Once again the man was standing with his boat.  He was untying the knot that fastened the boat to the post at the end of the dock. He looked up and saw my stunned face.  I didn’t say a word.  “Relax” he mocked.  “I left plenty of your boxes in the boat”.  I stood there frozen, unsure of how to respond.  The man and I had spent weeks talking about the special dreams that each of the boxes contained. I watched as the man finally loosened the knot, knelt down and gave the boat a hard push out to sea.  “What are you doing?” I questioned in a panic.  “I’m tired of taking care of this boat. I’m getting rid of it” he replied.  I barely waited for him to finish before I ran straight off the end of the dock and plunged into the cold water below. I swam towards the boat, dove beneath the water and searched for the rope that was dangling down the bow. I grabbed it with both hands.  I popped up to the surface and began to tread water as I wrapped the rope securely around my waist. I pulled the boat behind me as I swam back to the shore.  I reached up and grabbed the end of the dock and pulled my wet body out of the water.  I sat at the end of the dock for a moment to catch my breath. I looked for the man but there was no sign of him.  I untied the rope from around my waist and tied it back on the post where it belonged.  Four boxes gone.  Tossed overboard.  Lost forever to the bottom of the sea. I pulled my knees up to my chest as my body trembled.  I wasn’t sure if I was trembling from the cold, the disbelief of what had just happened, or both.  

 

The months that followed brought the same pattern playing on repeat.  

Down to the dock in the morning.

Less white boxes, more black boxes.

The boat untied and pushed out to sea.

Swimming out to save it and bring it back to shore.  

 

I was exhausted.  Defeated.  Losing hope.  I didn’t know how to stop the man, but I couldn’t give up on my remaining white boxes.  

 

And then it finally happened.  The day I was dreading.  The day I desperately tried to avoid.   

As I walked down the dock towards the water, my pace quickened.  I could see it drifting further and further away with each wave that came to shore and rushed back out again. The morning air was crisp and I felt a breeze rush over my bare shoulder blades.  A chill ran straight down my back and caused my skin to prickle with tiny goosebumps.  I had a blanket wrapped loosely around my shoulders.  I pulled it up over the top of my back and gathered each corner piece under my chin.  I nestled my face into the soft comforting fibres.  I walked to the very edge of the dock and let my toes dangle over the end.  I felt compelled to go as far as I could without falling off.  I stood there and watched it, frozen in place.  I’d seen it many times before: the tiny wooden fishing boat. I watched as it moved away from me, slow but steady. 
I stood completely still as it gently rocked from side to side as it ventured out to sea. The steady rhythm was almost hypnotic.  The glare from the rising sun cast a spotlight on the tiny boat’s contents.  All black boxes, not a single white one left.  This time I didn’t dive in.  Instead I stood there as far as I could go, toes dangling over the edge.  I watched until the boat had drifted beyond where I could see.  In that moment, I knew it was over.  I would never again see that boat.  I would never again see those white boxes, they were forever lost to me.  Warm tears fell down my cheeks as I turned to head home, leaving the dock behind. 

 

As I made my way down the dock, I saw him out of the corner of my eye.  

It was the man.  

He was walking along the shore toward another woman.  

“Shall we walk” I heard him ask

He smiled at her with kind and gentle eyes.

He reached out and took her hand. 

They walked along the shore together.

 He was doing most of the talking, but she liked listening to him…

XO, Pam

9 thoughts on “The Man With The Black Boxes

  1. Wow..this is an amazing story Pam..Its also my story just recently and Its strong and powerful – like we are! Rising again with God’s grace and help ! Thank you for sharing this ❤ Bless you

  2. Oh my word! Absolutely PROFOUND! I think this is your best work yet. Pam you need to think seriously about a career that involves your God given gift of literature. I pray that your life is now filled with hundreds of boxes in various shades of purple covered in glitter and rhinestones XO XO XO

  3. Beautifully written Pam..very captivating. I certainly wanted to continue reading.
    You are def talented and I hope to read more of your work in the near future;)

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