Cheryl Hughes: Zombie Proof
Anytime, my granddaughter, Sabria, comes to visit, magic is always involved. I’m not referring to the word “magical,” as in children are “magical,” alluding to the sense of wonder children bring to a situation. I mean magic, as in, “You hold these magic rocks, Gee, cause we might have to teleport to another dimension, in case the bad guys start chasing us. I can’t actually see the bad guys, but I hold onto the magic rocks—cleverly disguised as common gravel—as we climb onto our trustee steeds, Snowflake and Sven—cleverly disguised as a soap barrel and an oil barrel—and gallop away across whatever dimension Sabria says we’re in.
I’m not the only person Sabria imbues with magic. The last time her friend Jazz visited, they pretended to be Zombie hunters. They had Nerf guns with magic missiles. At some point in the hunt, Jazz became bored and announced she no longer had to run from the miscreants, because she had become Zombie proof. Sabria, who hadn’t tired of the game said, “I’m not Zombie proof, I just always win.”
My sisters and I played similar games when we were kids. We hunted monsters and ghosts, shooting at the ne’er-do-wells with cap guns that fired “silver bullets.” Even in traditional children’s games, we had imaginary weapons that gave us an advantage. My personal favorite was an ice-melting weapon that freed me from the statue-like state of frozen tag.
Recently, Sabria has developed plans for a fort. Not an imaginary fort, mind you, but a real cardboard fort. Garey came home a few days before Christmas with a huge 78 inch TV box one of my friends had dropped off for me at work. I saw it in the back of his truck when he drove up.
“Joey said he was going to drop that off for me,” I said, delighted that he had remembered.
”Yeah, he said something about you and Sabria building a fort,” Garey said, “And I hope it’s outside, because I would really like to have our house back in my lifetime.”
“It is going to be outside, just as soon as I figure out how to make it collapsible,” I said. “We’re not building it till good weather. We’re just gathering boxes now.”
Garey helped me carry the box into the living room, mumbling under his breath about Joey getting the TV and him getting the box, and he didn’t know why Sabria couldn’t be satisfied with the tree house he built for her. To his credit, it is a wonderful tree house, and Sabria and I have climbed up and down and in and out of that thing more times than I can remember.
Sabria is a hands-on little person, though, and I think that’s why she wants to build the fort. I told her she was going to have to put the blueprint for what she wants on paper, and I gave her some graph paper and showed her how to draw the fort to scale. She brought the finished plan to me. It is an ambitious project that includes a long hallway that connects bedrooms, a living room, a movie room and changing rooms. It is more like a fort-dominium. She posted the blueprint on the refrigerator with a sturdy magnet. I see negotiation in our future.
I’m going to try to get her to down-size, and it’s going to take a bit of magic on my part to get her to scale it down. I will have to stress the vulnerability of a fort that is too large. It will have too many entry points for the Zombies, I will tell her, and she and I can’t possibly guard them all, I will add. No, in order for her fort to be Zombie proof, we will have to go smaller. I’m really hoping I can sell that point. If not, we will have a huge cardboard fort in our living room during inclement weather, and Garey might not get our house back in his lifetime.