: The Man Who Went to China :

an excerpt by Ben Loory


Once upon a time, a man went to China. Then, later on, he came back. This was at a time when people didn’t go to China—it was a strange place, and far away, like something in a book. But this man went, and then later, he came back. And when he came back, he was rich.

He’d traded things for other things, the usual things, expensive things; there really isn’t much to speak of there.

The only matter of interest to us is the box—the small lacquered box he came back holding in his hand.

It was in his hand all the time, either one hand or the other—though sometimes, when seated, he’d rest it on his lap. But even then, he was always touching it, caressing it, smoothing it, as if making sure that it was there, or assuring it that he was.