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Fiction Kids Happy

The new couch arrived in a box that was taller than Winston, and twice as long. Winston watched as Dad dragged the box across the garage. He was heading for the recycling pile.

“Wait!” Winston blurted, just as Dad was about to flatten the box.

“Huh?” Dad paused.

“Can I play with that?” Winston asked.

Dad thought for a moment. 

“Sure. I’ll put it in the backyard. There’s plenty of space out there,” he finally answered.

Dad pulled the box to the other side of the garage, and coaxed it through the door. He was careful not to smash it.

“Where do you want it? How about under the tree?” Dad suggested.

Winston nodded.

Dad pulled the box to a shady spot under the willow.

“There you go,” he said, before turning back inside the house.

Winston walked all the way around the box, studying its possibilities. He wasn’t sure what what he wanted to do with it. He could turn it into a fort, but he already had a plastic playhouse, AND a treehouse. He didn’t really need a fort. He could stand it on its side, vertically, to make it tall, and create a rocket ship with it, but he was kind of scared of outer space. Then Winston knew he would make a car with it.

He needed wheels. He ran into the garage and rummaged through the recycling pile. He found a circular piece of cardboard from the packaging of a frozen pizza. A few seconds later, he pulled out the plastic lid that had come from a gallon of ice cream. Winston grabbed a pie tin. He arranged the 3 circular objects in a line to compare them. They were all slightly different sizes, but that was okay. His car wasn’t real, so it wouldn’t need to actually spin, or be balanced. Winston had a good imagination, and he didn’t need things to be perfect to play. He would draw the 4th wheel right on the side of the box.

Once Winston had what he needed from the recycling pile, he slipped into the house to get a few more necessary supplies. He picked up a pack of markers, a sharp scissors, several rolls of colorful duct tape, a bottle of glue, and a roll of aluminum foil. With full arms, he walked to the backyard, careful to keep the scissors pointed down. Winston opened his arms, letting his supplies drop in the grass next to the box.

With the scissors still in his hand, he flipped the box so it was open side up. Then he cut a driver’s side door into the appropriate wall. He swung the door open and closed a few times to loosen the crease.

Winston used the duct tape to attach 3 wheels to the sides of his car. He selected an orange marker, his favorite color, to draw the 4th wheel. Then he took a step back, and admired his work.

Next, he tore off a long sheet of aluminum foil and glued it to the top front of the box. That would be his windshield. He added headlights made of yellow duct tape, and tail lights created with red tape. 

When he stepped back again, to check out his progress, Winston realized that he still needed a steering wheel, and something to use as the seats. He ran across the yard and located 2 short but wide tree stumps from the wood pile. He alternated between pushing and pulling the stumps over to the box. He rolled them through the open driver’s side door, and parked them where he thought the seats should be.

Winston collected a fallen branch from the willow tree. He curled the branch into a circle, then taped the ends together. This would be his steering wheel. He considered trying to find a way to attach it to the inside of the box, but decided against it. He would just hold it in his hands and pretend it was attached. 

When Winston went to set the steering wheel down near the driver’s seat, he got the feeling he was being watched. Then he saw that there was an unexpected passenger in the car.

“Oh!” he gasped.

Winston studied the golden eyes and warty bumps of the creature sitting on the passenger stump.

“A toad?! Where did you come from?” Winston asked.

The toad didn’t answer, of course.

“I’m going to pack up to drive to my cabin. If you’re still in my car when I finish, I guess you can ride with me,” Winston told it.

Again, the toad said nothing. Winston loaded the back of his car with sticks, 14 dandelion flowers, a couple of empty buckets from the sandbox, his soccer ball, a toy dump truck, and a lunchbox full of imaginary snacks. 

Winston got in the car and settled into the driver’s seat. The toad hadn’t moved. Winston ran to the garage and came  back with a small tissue box. He cut an opening into one side of the tissue box, then placed it in the corner of the passenger side. 

“A toad house. In case you want a place to hide. Do you have everything you need? It’s a long drive to the cabin,” Winston said, as he went to start the car.

“Oh my gosh, I need my key! I can’t drive without a key!” he exclaimed.

Winston rummaged around some of the landscaping and located a rock that reminded him of the key fab for his dad’s van. He put it in his pocket and climbed back in the car. 

“Like I was saying, it’s a long drive to the cabin. I hope you packed your own snacks, because I don’t have any toad food. Let me know if you have to go potty, so I can find a gas station,” Winston said, as he pushed the pretend button that would start the ignition.

He picked up the steering wheel and mimed that he was driving, his foot on an imaginary gas pedal.

“My mom says that I shouldn’t pick up small creatures, but my dad sometimes lets me. I know how to be gentle,” Winston began.

The toad hopped off the stump and over to the tissue box. It hurried inside.

“I didn’t mean that I was going to try to hold you!” Winston exclaimed.

The toad watched him from inside the box.

“We’ve been driving for 4 hours. I’ve got to stop for gas soon, need anything?” Winston asked.

The toad, as usual, did not respond. Winston turned into the gas station and parked his car. He got out, pulling the launch pad from his stomp rocket over to the car’s gas tank. The launch pad consisted of a pipe, a bendy tube, and an air bladder, and made for a perfect gas pump.

Winston filled the gas tank, then went inside the gas station to pay. He came out with a bag of gummy worms, and a bowl of dirt and earthworms. He got back in the car and placed the bowl on the floor, next to the toad house.

“I got you a treat,” he told the toad.

Winston slurped an orange gummy worm into his mouth and chomped it before starting the ignition.

“We’re getting closer. Only about an hour to go. If you take a nap, it will go faster,” he said.

As expected, the toad said nothing. It also ignored Winston’s advice, staring wide eyed out of the tissue box for the rest of the drive.

“I love going to the cabin. Sometimes my mom and dad let me listen to audiobooks. I don’t have a radio in this car, though,” Winston explained.

He got the sense that the toad preferred quiet, but Winston was a talker. He couldn’t stay silent for long.

“Only 2 more miles!” Winston cried.

He imagined he was rolling down a bumpy dirt road, surrounded by pine trees on both sides. Winston hit the brakes and put his car in park. He chomped on one last orange gummy worm.

“I’m going to go relax in my hammock before I unload the car. That’s what my dad always does at the cabin. I’ll leave the door open, so you can get out whenever you want. Thanks for riding with me,” Winston told the toad.​

He braced the driver’s side do​or open with a rock, and climbed into his hammock. The toad waited a moment before hopping out of the house. When it was sure that the coast was clear, it slurped up an earthworm that had wiggled out of the bowl, then made its way back into the yard.

August 04, 2023 20:03

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7 comments

Helen A Smith
19:31 Aug 10, 2023

I found this story to be an imaginative and enjoyable response to the prompt. I thought the toad was pretty cool and I’m sure appreciated the ride 🚗 🐸

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19:13 Aug 08, 2023

Have you considered writing children's stories? I think you could really build on stories of Winston. I think this was a clever direction to take the prompt. I saw a few minor areas like a part where "what" was repeated. Other than that, this story should bring up a feeling of nostalgia in most readers and can be used as the basis for a children's series. All in all, I would call this a successful short story.

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SJ Shoemaker
16:44 Aug 07, 2023

I remember doing the same type of thing as a child. The possibilities with a large box are endless. Such a cute a creative way to address the writing prompt!

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Ty Warmbrodt
21:12 Aug 05, 2023

Imaginatively delightful take on the prompt. Beautifully descriptive. I was like Winston in that I found pleasure in the imaginary possibilities of boxes. Loved the story.

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Mary Bendickson
04:28 Aug 05, 2023

Winston is sure inventive as are you. Such a sweet story. Hope the toad enjoyed the ride as much as I did.🐸 Thanks for reading and liking a bunch of my stories. 🙏 Thanks for reading and liking more of my stories.

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Parul Shah
03:30 Aug 05, 2023

Love this, what a gentle, charming read. Have you read any of the Frog & Toad series? I adore those and this has a similar charm, and certainly not just because there's a toad! "The toad, as usual, did not respond"-- funny! Well done Chelsey.

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Theo Benson
20:28 Aug 04, 2023

Aww, that was cute! I like the spin you put on the prompt with Winston and the Toad and the pretend-car :)

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