Eva came scouting with me today.

With all the hubub going on around here it was nice to have some father/daughter time again.

Before everything get’s crazy again, at least.

Plus, I like it when we do stuff together, more than when we’re just reading a bedtime story or having dinner. That time is nice, but doing stuff with her, working with her, and watching her work, is when I really get to know my daughter.

She’s super excited about the prospect of a fortress, too. We used to take her to Michilimackinac and Mackinaw Island… when they were still around.

She loved it. Still remembers it, too. So when I asked her to help me come up with plans, she jumped at the chance – literally.

We went scouting through the woods. I was trying to find the best locations to lay fortifications — but we called it scouting.

I taught Evangeline to run. Not run, like a race, but how to slide in and out of the trees like a real pro.

“Keep your head down.” I told her. “This isn’t a sidewalk or backyard. You need to watch where you’re going.”

She nodded, staring ahead through the trees. Her eyes were slanted downwards with determination.

“Plot your path” I said, doing it for her in my head. Three steps ahead, leap off a rock, off a tree root, over, a branch, and then shoot forward.


She took off like a rocket, completely ignoring the mythical path I had in my mind’s eye. She jumped over the rock completely, then stepped off the tree leaping through the air and stepping off another tree before shooting off through the straightaway, ducking branches and spiderwebs the whole time.

She jogged back to me panting.

“How was that?”

“That was pretty amazing.” I said honestly. “Coulda been a little quieter but I liked the originality.”

She beamed at me. “How do I be quieter?”

“Stay on the balls of your feet more. Watch where you’re stepping and stay away from twigs and dry leaves.”

She nodded. “Got it. Should I go again?”

I twisted my neck, cracking it. Anyone can run a path, the real test is how well you can plan a path on the fly. “Nope. Now I’m gonna chase you.”

Damned if I could barely keep up with her. I chased her for several acres till my heart was pounding, my lungs were heaving, and my blood ached in my veins. Honestly, the only reason I caught her was because she slipped on some loose leaves.

“That was some pretty good running.” I flopped down next to her “But you’re still caught. How is that?”

She was rubbing her knee which was scuffed and dirty. “It’s fine. And I still outran you.”

“Not so much young lady you still have a long way to go.” I said laughing. I held out my fist. “Gimme some skin.”

She bumped it.


We bumped heads.


We both fell down laughing. It was the single nicest moment I’ve had since the world went up in fire.

“So where are we building our fort.”

I finally got up at Eva’s question. “We’ll need multiple walls, an inner wall, an middle wall, and an outer wall. The first two walls need to cross the road, and all the walls need gates and need to take advantage of natural defenses.”

“So the first wall goes around the houses.”

“Right.” I picked up a stick and drew a box in the sand with a squiggly line next to it. “This is our keep, our castle, our last line of defense.”

She stared down at the drawing. “Okay.” She picked up a twig of her own and drew a jagged line on the other side of the box. “Then this is the beach.”

I had to stare at her line for a second before I realized how accurate it was. “exactly.”

She stared at the little diagram more intently. “Wouldn’t it be better to bring the walls right to the water? Then we don’t have to build as much.” She extended the lines of my walls out to the water. She was right, we wouldn’t have to build as much and we would maintain access to fresh water.

“We could do that with all the walls.”

“And the river would run through here.” She drew another squiggly line right through running diagonally through the middle of the box. “How do we build around it?”

“We’d build sluices.”


“Like gates. Control the flow of water, and make sure nothing comes in or out.”

“How do we build those?”

“Gates and pulleys.” I was still staring at the diagram. “We’d need one at each wall” I said, drawing two lines further away a from the first box and extending our “river” through each.

“If we do that we might as well make all of the walls connect with the beach.”

I kissed her forehead. “Angel you are a genius.”

“Mommy says I get that from her.”

I rolled my eyes and looked back down at our diagram. “what’s over here?” I pointed towards the area south of the houses. I’d been down there before, a long time ago. I vaguely remember a ledge or hill that would be a good spot for a natural wall.

“I don’t know, I’ve never been that far in the woods.”

I looked up at her, surprised. I walked all over these woods when I was her age. I suppose it was a different time.

A very different time.

“Well it’s time you learned.”


Part One 

One thought on “The Gates of Eden, Part Fourteen

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