The cardboard box took up half of the room…
This is not just any cardboard box. It’s a castle. A cardboard, kind of flimsy castle.
When we were young, me and my brother built (with the help of our Grandpa and Great Aunt) the best cardboard castle-fort you’ve ever seen.
It was painted with gold and silver sparkly paint, bought especially.
Thick black lines covered this paint at intervals, creating what, as a child, I would call “arrow holes”.
There was a drawbridge!
I’m not kidding, an actual, working drawbridge.
The rectangle of cardboard would lower, with a light tap against the long grass below. I say lower, but it would be more accurate to say fell. It was tied to the castle with thick rope that pulled tight when the drawbridge reached the floor. A gate into the cardboard box of dreams.
I remember a corridor. It was narrow and low. I ran my finger tips along the rough walls, here and there encountering bumps where each box was joined with slippery masking tape. Those sections emitted a small squeak as my fingers passed by.
It was narrow in those corridors, but not dark. We weren’t quite advanced enough to make ceilings.
I imagined I was a Princess from ancient myths. Wearing one of those pointed hats, with the whisps of material sewn from the top.
Now, my imagination would take that hat off as I walked between the cardboard walls, grass underfoot. This little girl would embrace the feminine when she wanted to, moving slowly towards the handsome but imaginary knight waiting for her within.
But when my brother called to have a pretend sword fight, the gender binaries of Arthurian legend were eclipsed easily by a child’s imagination. Leaped over, even.
I ran from the cardboard castle of dreams, out the drawbridge to the grass in front. With more cardboard, me and my brother echoed the pretend sword fights of millions of children before us.
our imaginations were relentless, back then. That castle was more than just cardboard, then. To us, that was a real castle – brick, mortar, a place of real danger and intrigue. Even now, my imagination is tempted to agree.