• Maree

Flash Fiction: The Shelf Life of a Cardboard Box

Updated: Jun 10

Five days into reclusion for the good of the realm, I decide write a journal…


The darn microwave door hook came unglued again. I bumped it when retrieving my heat pack—at least we have the stove. Sally and I played soccer in the park. For a four-year-old, her “walking-in-the-way-in-front-of-you-like-a-cat” skills are useful when defending the ball.


We glued on the microwave hook, but it fell out again. Mark bought a new one after work. It keeps humming after it’s finished, which doesn’t help us catch a breath of silence in our noisy household.

Boxes are perfect cat traps. Miz proved this by jumping into the empty microwave box within minutes of it being vacated. Sally spent the rest of the afternoon enticing Miz’s wrath with feathers and ribbons. Before bed, Sally used the box as a time machine to go back to the age of miniature dinosaurs.


Sally misses shopping. Mark drew car features on both inside and outside the box and we swooshed her along the wooden floors to the lounge room supermarket. On our way home, we stopped at a café with a wobbly, blanket-covered box-table.


Late autumn reached out wintry talons today, keeping us inside. Sally was snuggled under blankets in her car watching Tangled when Grandma called. We can’t wait to give her hugs—I never thought love would keep us apart.

Later, with her hair of scarves, Sally was Rapunzel, stuck up high in her box tower with Floppy.


This morning while we went on a Bear Hunt through our neighborhood, Sally dived into golden leaf puddles.

This afternoon she wanted to make a dolls house with the box. We fitted in smaller boxes to make rooms, and created a furniture shop to buy furnishings before the tenants arrived. I cherished the moments of flow in play that we had; it’s so easy to forget that all we have is the present.


We baked scones for morning tea—the comforting fragrance was an ode to our simple and delicious life.

The bottom of the box is disintegrating, so we cut a hole to make a puppet stage. Kinder has kindly delivered an activity pack which includes puppet-making materials. Later, we built a fort and Sally uses the stage as a tunnel entrance. We cuddled, read and ate more scones in the fort until dinner.


Sally wanted to become a butterfly, inspired by moths we’ve been hatching from caterpillars. We made fairy wings from a section of cardboard, sprinkling them with a silver lining of glitter. We’re excited to finally resume normal activities tomorrow!


Additional entry: When cleaning Sally’s room tonight we found the wings and reminisced her inventions.

Sally starts school tomorrow—that extra time together was a gift.

When she saw the wings, Sally said, “That box was a lot of things to us, wasn’t it Mum?”

“Very much so, sweetie,” I replied.




Written for Australian Writers' Centre's Furious Fiction May, 2020.


(So I know this one's a bit dry, but-diary entries plus word limit. Aiming to edit it one day.)


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