With COVID-19 lockdown restrictions easing across the world, it’s time to look back with fondness at the month or more we spent trapped inside the house with our families.
We watched all 6,579 titles on Netflix. We read. We baked. We taught the children how to make a shiv using a spoon. It’s called togetherness, people.
Near the end, something changed. A feeling in the house, like music played slightly off-key. Our children, who usually fight to pass the time, now played together quietly, exchanged grins and nods from across the dinner table, and whispered when my wife and I entered a room.
Sure, we’ve been restrictive. Parents have to be restrictive during a pandemic. No friends in the house. We don’t care if you are flossing, that medical mask stays on. And if you want to play Monopoly the shivs stay under your mattress.
But what about the note I found written in code in, wait, what is that? Blood? Could our children actually be plotting against us?
No, not our kids; but just in case, I took detailed notes for the lawyers.
The COVID-19 Diary.
Day 40: I found a tripwire at the top of the stairs. At first, I had flashbacks to the war, then I remembered I was never in a war. That trap wasn’t set for the Germans, or the Iraqi Republican Guard, or the Rebel Alliance. It was set for me. Or were the children simply playing a game, like Daddy Fall, or Collect My Inheritance Now? I must be overreacting.
Day 41: We’re running low on food and I’m hungry.
Day 42: I couldn’t wait for a grocery run so I ate all the houseplants.
Day 43: I just realized we’ve never owned houseplants.
Day 44: Our oldest child winked at our youngest who then stared directly at me and dragged a finger across her throat. She’s only 5, so it was adorable.
Day 45: The Oreos hidden in our bedroom closet are missing. I suspect everyone.
Day 46: I saw our children in the yard dressing a deer carcass. The Boy held a spear. They’re getting so big. I wonder if loincloths are in this year.
Day 47: The children have gone feral. We can only communicate with them through grunts and hand motions. I’ve begun wearing tribal face paint in an attempt to blend in. I look like guitarist Ace Frehley from Kiss.
Day 48: My wife and I barricaded ourselves in our bedroom. The children have discovered fire. The stone hand ax and Clovis point are next. It’s only a matter of time.
Day 49: The house has gone quiet except for a rhythmic thump. Maybe the neighbor is working on his car.
Day 50: The steady pounding isn’t mechanical. It’s a war drum — from the living room.
Day 4 million: The children are breaking down the door. Dear, lord. This is like Moria in “The Lord of the Rings.” If you’re reading this, send hel—
And that’s where his journal ends. Dad’s at the hospital now. Please send flowers and cards.
Jason Offutt’s upcoming novel, “So You Had to Build a Time Machine,” is available for preorder at jasonoffutt.com.