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The Juice Box

By Jdieonds Viernes

My troubled mind snaps painfully into consciousness. A nightmare, again. I had attempted to wind down and slumber this night away with the help of a relaxing soundtrack, but it appeared to have been in vain. Even when I’m asleep, they won’t leave me alone. I roll over and turn off the music, its once beautiful melodies now serving only as a reminder of my failure. My bedroom is silent now, but it’s a reassuring sort of silence — one that soothes without words, affirming that I’m alone. Alone and safe. On the outside, at least. I soon realize that the demons clawing at my sanity are not my only problem. My body is sticky with sweat, and my mouth is dry. I yearn for a drink. I lust for it. I persuade my sore joints to follow my commands, and I slowly move, tossing the covers aside like some useless, unwanted thing. My feet press against the carpet and I make my way across its fluffy surface. Opening the door, I’m greeted with the end of a long, dark hallway, blessedly covered in hardwood floorboards. At night, the halls of my home are much more intimidating than they would be in broad daylight. I can’t see anything, but I dare not turn on the light. I do not wish to burn my eyes out tonight. Or alert something to my presence, the thought comes, unbidden. However, I force it away; it’s irrational, and it doesn’t belong. The cold tiles of my kitchen are a shock to the soles of my feet and are more of a hassle than the carpet. My feet slap, slap, slap, rhythmically on the floor, and though I can barely see, I trust them to guide my body to the right destination.

Rather than bringing me to the sink like I expected them to, my rebellious feet bring me to the refrigerator, where I store my beverages. I know it’s not wise to drink things besides water during the night, but I never pride myself on my knowledge of the world. I squint my weary eyes as I pop open the fridge door, spotting the bottles and cans. What would be the right thing to treat myself with on this grim, restless night? And then I see them. They’re coated in plastic, trembling in their cardboard bed — juice boxes. Had they anticipated my arrival? That had to be the case, for why else would they cower so? I had slightly thinned their numbers already; they had witnessed the act every time. They know what is to come for one unfortunate member of their ranks. With that, my decision is made. With a burst of savage glee, I peel back the feeble plastic fortifications and snatch out a juice box. I was unsure of its flavor. I had purchased both grape and fruit punch a few days prior, but it was too dark for me to see. It doesn’t matter; it’s still a juice box. Red or purple, it makes no difference. It will die tonight. I eagerly clasp the juice box in my hand, and it doesn’t put up any resistance. It submits itself to my will, without question or hesitation. It feels almost too easy, taking advantage of a lesser being, but I can’t help but revel in the power that comes with being in control of such an obedient object. I think to myself, Not yet, but I am tired of thinking. I am tired of waiting. My craving is building and my mouth is screaming, yearning to be filled with this delicious liquid. The anticipation of a sip is too great to handle.

I must do it now! I switch the box over to my left hand, and with my right, I tear the straw — the weapon of its destruction — from its backside. The plastic shield encasing it is even thinner than the one the juice boxes live within, and the pointed end of the straw is sharp enough to pierce it. Thrusting the weak protection away where they will never be seen again, I wave the bladed end of the bendy death tube tauntingly at the helpless juice box. Adrenaline pumps through my veins and I dare it to make a move; this is so fun. As easily as a knife cuts through flesh, the straw slides effortlessly into the juice box’s weak spot: a circular indent on the top corner. Once it is in place, my lips are placed tightly around the exposed flat end, and I begin sucking. Almost instantly, my mouth is full of my victim’s cool, fruity blood. I revel in the moistness it brings to my palate, drinking greedily and savoring the taste. I can’t speak, and my thoughts are a mess, but there is one word that presents itself and asserts itself above all the rest: More. More, more, more! Faster and faster I drink, harder and harder I sip, until the juice box begins caving in on itself, its rectangular shape shriveling up. This will make it a bit difficult to continue, but I am a seasoned veteran. I know what to do. No matter how many of its brethren had seen me indulging myself, it could not possibly be prepared for what was coming next. Unpredictably for it, but right on time for me, I stop sucking, and blow into the straw instead. Instantly, my prey’s sides move outward and then bulge. Once they are at their maximum capacity, I stop. The forced air pushes the remaining juice through the straw, and now the pathetic little juice box is bleeding on its own, unwillingly feeding me its life force, being completely helpless to stop the inevitable.

The box’s lighter weight informs me that the feast is nearing its end. But it doesn’t matter. Even though my thirst has been quenched and my taste buds satisfied, I’m still not satisfied with my drink. This is not the end. The juice box had served its purpose, and it is clear that is no longer needed. But I know there is still some life within it — a glimmer of hope. I wouldn’t allow it to remain. If the juice box thinks its journey was going to be so easy, it is sorely mistaken. A surge of anger bubbled inside me, heightened by the refreshing taste of its contents, and I hurl the flimsy cardboard shell onto the ground, using the sound of its landing as a guide for my foot. Again and again, my foot comes crashing down onto the empty juice box, and the sound grows louder and more grating. I had forgotten that stepping on the crumpled edges was painful, sending sharp waves of discomfort up my leg and irritating me even more. The juice box cowers underneath, whimpering in fear and letting out small squeaks of pain and terror. It begs me to show mercy, but I will not. This is a satisfaction that I refuse to relinquish. I can feel the slight, moist stickiness of the blood I wasn’t able to fully extract, and I can’t help but feel disappointed. Though I know the consequences of leaving small stains on the floor, I push the worry aside for the night. There will be time for cleaning in the morning.

With one last prolonged squeak, the juice box flattens entirely. There is no hope of resurrection. I pick the useless thing off the floor and toss it into the trash can, where it now resides with its other departed brethren. My foot and the floor are now sticky with the sweet liquid, but I don’t care. My emotions are now insignificant in the depths of my mind, and my thirst is fully satiated. I’m as satisfied as I can ever be, and I stroll back to bed.


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