here), so I was delighted to find Thurber's "A Box to Hide In" featured as last week's Library of America story.
This story opens with a man asking a grocery clerk for a box - one large enough to crawl into and hide. When none is available, the question is posed (unsuccessfully) at several other groceries. One confused clerk asks "Whatta you mean?" and our narrator responds,
"It's a form of escape, hiding in a box. It circumscribes your worries and the range of your anguish. You don't see people, either."
The next morning as the cleaning lady arrives, our narrator imagines a scenario (think Walter Mitty) in which he barks or laughs from inside the box as the unsuspecting woman walks past... precipitating her fatal heart attack.
As the story closes, a box has yet to be located.
"I haven't found one yet, but I still have this overpowering urge to hide in a box. Maybe it'll go away, maybe I'll be all right. Maybe it will get worse. It's hard to say."
In just three pages, Thurber has created a story with universal appeal. Haven't we all dreamed of escape at one time or another?
The story may be read here. Short Story Monday is hosted by John Mutford at The Book Mine Set.