Draft #1 (if you haven’t read it yet) // From the perspective of Minnie
Draft #2 // 500 words or less // Written from the perspective of Minnie’s husband
The funny thing about thinking outside of the box is there’s no such thing as “the” box, only “your” box. And there’s a freedom to that, too, of discovering just where your box ends but where your thinking doesn’t need to. When I began imagining what life would be once I moved out of my parents’ house and away from my hometown, that’s when I exited my box and that’s when I met my wife, Minnie. There she was, in the same position as myself, freshly liberated from the houses and expectations that had defined our first two decades. There we were, in a new box so profound and far-reaching that the horizons felt never ending. The inevitability of walls existing at an eventual distance away seemed to not matter, as the free thinking space surrounding us felt like enough for a lifetime–a lifetime together, just Minnie and me.
Perhaps we succumbed to too concise a pattern. Maybe day-to-day life had become ritualistic. Either way, I remember the night I walked up to Minnie in our bedroom and rubbed her shoulders as her gaze was stayed, unwavering, out the window. As far as I could see, she saw something that I couldn’t: a wall. That wall became her obsession until she disappeared, so I knew exactly where she’d gone.
I’ve developed a theory, something I’ve been thinking about with Minnie gone, something I doubt I would’ve ever realized had she not left: I believe that the walls of one’s box begin to close in if one isn’t making comprehensive use of the space provided by the box, as if taking the maxim, “if you don’t use it, you lose it,” to an extreme of one’s overall mental capacity.
The effects of this theory would seem to me to be utterly obvious: on the one hand, if life continues on in this boxed-in nature, a person becomes increasingly adverse to change, which I think we’ve all seen, whether it’s in how a young adult is less adept at learning a new language as a child or how a grown man is far less likely to try out new restaurants or new genres of music than he was as a teenager. Meanwhile, if said person realizes he or she is getting further ensnared within this routine way of doing things and thinking about things and wants to change that, the person will take drastic measures to reach freedom, which for Minnie meant learning to think outside of the box, of life as we’d built it together.
If there’s an irony present, I think the walls of my box might be even further away from me now. Learning to live with Minnie absent has caused me to view everything differently, and I can only hope there’ll come a day when the walls of my box have expanded so drastically that they have realigned themselves with Minnie’s new box, such that nothing can keep us from living together once again.
Draft #3 // 250 words or less // A half-length version of the original
Minnie’s thoughts stop when they hit the wall of the box. This confuses Minnie, as the past two times she approached the wall of a box, she was able to think outside of the box, thus allowing her to walk straight through its walls. The first time, she found the extended space refreshing and she laid down blankets to sleep. This became a bed, which became a house, which became comfortable. A husband joined her there, and Minnie naively thought there existed only one box.
Now, Minnie fears there may be an endless number of boxes, layer after layer. Minnie rests her back against the wall and recalls the first night she looked past her house and saw, in the distance, another wall. How could this be? she’d thought, I’ve thought outside the box already! Minnie ventured to the wall, confirming its existence; deciding not to tell her husband what she’d seen, Minnie walked through the wall the next day.
A platitude comes to mind, handed down to Minnie when she was a child: it’s the thought that counts. Banging her head back against the wall, lightly yet rhythmically, she counts, 1…2…3…4…, hoping the wall will give way and she’ll crash onto the other side. It’s the thought that counts, 5…6…7…8…, but soon she begins counting the costs of leaving her previous box, and her husband, behind. 9…10…11…12…
Standing up, she counts her steps to her previous box, 1…2…3…4…, unsure whether she’ll get back in. But it’s worth the thought.
Draft #4 // 50 words or less // Super-short, to-the-point version
When Minnie first thought outside of the box, her life found definition. But at what point does a definition stay finite? Uncommitted, Minnie continues thinking outside of the box until she finds herself in a different life, leaving behind her old ways for new limitations: stuck inside a new box.