Around me, there were cards spaciously laid out, unlike the tightly-packed rows of The Boxes. I was on a table; I’d been Chosen, but not yet Played. The other cards were similar to me, but just different enough. I’d heard about people having dreams where they’d show up to an important event in hilarious attire, but I’d never understood it. Now, here alongside so many cards—so many of which were strictly better than me—when I didn’t even know what was wanted of me, I understood. The sun shone unwavering above us, not crouching occasionally above the boxes before darting back below the horizon. This was near to the ultimate achievement and the hope it burned within each of us—born when the designs of uncles’ ink were impressed upon our mothers cardboard: being played.
This was my first time chosen; I’d resigned myself early to a lifetime of being in The Boxes. I didn’t fool myself about the realities of it. It’s what made me a good detective, but it never prepared me for this. I had fought against that hope, trying to bury it deep inside as I had done from the moment I was unceremoniously ripped from my pack. If I’d been drafted, just I could have known and somehow steeled myself against the blinding, exhilarating gaze of the sun as it shone down on me, analyzing everything from cost and abilities to border, color, and set. Then I was lifted, and felt the anticipation of becoming everything I was and was ever meant to be. I tried to make plans; would I get played early? Try to savor every moment I spent in a hand, on the stack, or even in the graveyard? Would I make friends with the cards above and below me in the library, or would I be stuck between two basic lands? A small voice inside of me was whispering something I couldn’t—didn’t want to—make out, but it became louder as the light faded and my surface cooled.
I was put down beside a stack of cards, an unfathomable number to be Chosen, most of them were wailing in despair. I looked back up to see the back of another card descending towards me, burying me. This wasn’t what it was like to be chosen--to be really Chosen. More cards were piled on top of me, pushing me down, darker, and tighter and less relevant than The Boxes ever were. My cry of despair matched those of the others and I thrashed violently, trying to upend the rest of my stack and assert my place—however irrationally—as a card that was worth Choosing, worth shuffling, worth drawing, and, yes, worth Playing, but my efforts accomplished nothing, I kept fighting against the five dot symbol and brown back of the card above me, but my arms were pinned to my sides and I could barely breathe under all of the weight. I tried to yell, and nothing came out but the feeling that I was slowly tapping, then tapping again until I was upside down. I desperately tried to push upwards as I felt an impossible third tap coming, but it had no effect.
I continued tapping, spinning, but somehow never coming back upright again until I woke, thrashing my sheets and falling out of my bed. I took a moment and felt myself up and down, and breathing a sigh of relief that I was fully, solidly, upright.