In the center lay a square box draped in gold cloth. A gift maybe.
We people, individual persons really, surrounded this box at a distance. Our numbers crowded deep into the dark corners where the braziers couldn’t reach. Each man and each woman arranged themselves such that they could see the box. We packed ourselves shoulder to shoulder and front to back. Each knew if their neighbor wore rough linen or smooth silk. Where four pillars stood, our desire to see that box cast a shadow of humanity.
The spice of the men and the fruit or flower of the women warmed the air but dissipated with the fires’ smoke and the cave cool of the carved stone walls. Hidden vents replaced the clean human smells with unused outside air.
Only the shuffle of a slipper or the scuff of a boot created an occasional murmur in a room void of spoken words. And, despite a marble ceiling the tallest among us could touch with his fingertips, the room remained hush.
None of we knew what our box held. None of we wished to not know.
The last person, a woman, stepped into the perfectly filled room. All eyes drifted from the box to momentarily light on her. She was unremarkable.
We felt the sound in our feet more than heard it in our ears.
Someone gasped—not near me—all the others remained silent but looked one to the other. Each person’s face mirrored the others: eyes wide and mouths drawing breath to ask an unfinished question.
A delicate steady drum-pat surrounded we. A distant flute began and did not stop.
For no obvious reason all faces refocused on that box. It rested in the center of a sunken square of the floor two steps down where the lucky first few to enter sat comfortably while most of we stood. The gold cloth marked the sharp corners of the box; four ridges sloped outward and downward to merge with the stone plain. We could see the dark red box through the cloth. It was larger than I’d first supposed.
A faster moreinsistent drum quickened the pace of the music and strings imparted an invigorating rhythm and melody. I blinked my eyes to clear a mote and the box shimmered and rose to it’s bare feet. Our angular box transformed into a curvaceous woman in gold.
She swept a bow into dancing.
412 words on day 564