Eve said she wants Lark to tag along when our team enters the zombie colony for the first time. I’m flabbergasted by the idiocy of the very idea.
“I don’t see why not. It’s good for children to see their parents at work,” she says. “Lark will find it interesting.”
“Whatever it is, I probably won’t.” Lark walks in the kitchen while Eve is talking. She’s turned twelve and has embraced the idea that adolescents don’t like the same stuff as parents. “Is Dad taking me on a hike where we turn over every single dead leaf so we can inspect their undersides?”
“That was his slime mold phase,” Eve explains. “Dad’s research is all about zombies now.”
“Undersides, or their top parts?”
Eve laughs and probably I should, too. But jibes about the cluelessness of dumb scientists are so unnecessary. A man’s castle should be snark free.
“You really have no idea what I do, do you,” I say. “When we were in Brazil you saw me working every day. You were a part of things. We were a family then. We knew each other.”
“Oh, come on, Mason.”
“We’re still family, Dad.” Lark takes my hand in hers. The way she pats it is a little too maternal for her age, possibly even patronizing—but still, it’s a gesture.
“I know,” I say. “At least, I guess I know that.”
Eve and Lark exchange a look.
“Don’t worry,” Lark says. “I’ll help you flip over your zombies. I’ll act enthusiastic in front of your friends. Whatever you need.”
Jill Riddell is a writer in Chicago. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute and has a weakness for nature, magic, and pennies abandoned in sidewalk cracks.