Once upon a time, the plague struck and everyone got sick. Jules and Ellie, Constance and Joshua, Bruce and Jude, Imogene and Remi, and even Rook and Aunt Abby. Everyone got sick.
Grammie strapped on her apron, put all the pillows and blankets on the couch, and made all the cousins lay down. Nine children and one grown-up had their temperature taken, water refreshed, essential oils applied, and hot tea drunk.
“I’m bored,” Bruce announced once everyone was settled in.
“Me too!” Ellie agreed.
“No!” gasped Aunt Abby. “Don’t say the B-word!”
Jules propped her head up on her elbow. “The b-word? What’s that?”
“It’s a bad word,” Aunt Abby explained. “Like the s-word.”
“What’s the s-word?” Bruce said.
Imogene and Jude’s mouths dropped open.
Constance rolled over on her tummy. “I thought the s-word was Shut Up.”
“Sometimes it is.” Aunt Abby coughed and closed her eyes.
“Are you sick?” Bruce asked.
“Yes. Aren’t you?”
“Yes. So is Jude.”
Joshua frowned. “Aunt Abby, why is bored a bad word?”
“Cause when you say you’re bored, Mommy gives you chores to do.”
All the cousins grimaced.
“That is bad,” Constance said.
“What are we supposed to do, then?” Rook asked.
Remi nodded in agreement pulling her stuffed dolly closer.
Aunt Abby sipped her hot tea. “Well, Uncle Price always says, ’boredom sets into the boring mind’.”
“What does THAT mean?” Jules said.
Ellie took a sip of her tea and so did Imogene watching Aunt Abby closely.
“It means that if you’re bored it’s cause your brain is boring.”
Bruce flopped back on his pillow. “My brains not boring.”
“Mine either,” Imogene and Ellie both said at the same time while flopping back on their pillows too.
“Then think of something to do.”
Jules sighed dramatically. “I can’t and it’s making us all say the b-word over and over.”
Constance straightened Remi’s blanket. “She’s right.”
Aunt Abby closed her eyes in thought.
“You could tell a story,” suggested Imogene.
Aunt Abby shook her head and pointed at her throat.
“We could play chase?” Bruce threw out next.
Aunt Abby groaned.
“We could eat a snack?” Ellie smiled.
“My tummy hurts,” Joshua said.
“Me too,” everyone else said.
“I know!” Aunt Abby sat right up.
“What!!??” Jules, Ellie, Constance, Joshua, Bruce, Jude, Imogene, Remi, and Rook all said at once.
“The best way to avoid the bad word and get well as quickly as possible is to build a fort.”
Everyone completely agreed.
With Aunt Abby directing, books were gathered to hold the ends of blankets and pillows were stacked to make walls.
Grammie came into her rearranged living room with everyone hidden under the fort and said, “What happened in here?!”
“We’re getting better!” Remi declared.
“I see that.”
“And we’re not saying any bad words and we don’t need any chores,” Jules clarified.
Aunt Abby snorted.
Grammie hesitated. “I’m glad you’re not saying any bad words and I wasn’t coming in with chores, but to see who might want to watch a movie or color?”
The nine cousins glared at Aunt Abby.
“I though you said she’d give us chores,” Jules said.
“No. I said your Mommies would. Grammies always bring good things.”
“That’s true,” said Joshua.