This piece was selected for the PEN World Voices PEN/Guernica Flash Series—one piece of flash every day throughout the festival. It’s also featured in the 2014 PEN World Voices Online Anthology

Hideo Furukawa’s event: Asia Society and The Japan Foundation present: Monkey Business

Let me start with a tale from long, long ago. One day, scads of boxes came crashing down from the sky. No monkey had heard of such a thing. I bet you haven’t either! Of course we have weather forecasts on the monkey planet: “Good morning, the probability of rainfall today is 20 percent.” They even say: “The probability of monkeys falling today is 80 percent”! This was the first time, however, that a box had ever fallen. So the whole area was in an uproar. Once upon a time . . . a monkey managed to get into one of those boxes, and was amazed to discover—an outside! An outside had never existed before! Does that mean where I am now is inside? Another monkey started opening the boxes, and was amazed to find out that you cannot know what’s in a box until you open it. Does that mean if I entered one . . . you wouldn’t know it was me in it until I came out? Finally, a child prodigy monkey, reputed to possess the highest intelligence in the world, declared: my fellow monkeys, everything is a box! Conclusion: Do not underestimate boxes. And: enter first, before you observe from the outside! There, look . . . your tail is jutting out. My goodness, there are monkeys everywhere!

This tail, I mean tale, was originally written for the 2009 Summer “Box” issue of the Japanese Monkey Business Magazine.