Looking for the name of a SciFi short story published in the 1970s about a boy who has an invisible box with joy (or happiness). He confides in his teacher, who experiences and is overwhelmed by the box. The teacher seems to want to keep it. The boy thinks he has lost/misplaced the box. The teacher notices the boy walking around the classroom, feeling about for the box. That’s all I can remember. I read it in a paperback collection of SciFi short stories, but can’t remember the name of that book. Any help?


1 Answer 1


Sue-lynn is a child who spends a great deal of her time looking into her Anything Box. She hands it to her teacher, who can't see it and expects to mime that it is real, but -- "I received weight and substance and actuality!" And soon

I was running barefoot through the whispering grass. The swirl of my skirts caught the daisies as I rounded the gnarled apple tree at the corner. The warm wind lay along each of my cheeks and chuckled in my ears. My heart outstripped my flying feet and melted with a rush of delight into warmness as his arms --

Well. The teacher gets the picture and tells Sue-lynn that it's only make-believe after the child tries to escape an unwelcome reality into the Anything Box, and it goes missing. Sue-lynn becomes even sadder.

Then one day I suddenly realized that Sue-lynn was searching our classroom. Stealthily, casually, day by day she was covering every inch of the room. She went through every puzzle box, every lump of clay, every shelf and cupboard, every box and bag. Methodically she checked behind every row of books and in every child's desk until finally, after almost a week, she had been through everything in the place except my desk.

Which is where the teacher finds it. And she's tempted to keep it -- but does the right thing and returns the Anything Box to her student.

The story? "The Anything Box", of course -- in the anthology of the same name by Zenna Henderson, whose experience as a teacher lent both charm and realism to her stories of children and teachers. You can read it here. It was originally published in 1956 but has been reprinted in several other anthologies as well.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.