Emery scampered after his parents. He was excited. Today they were going on a picnic by the beach. He skidded to a stop as his parents paused at the crossroads. “Forest of Taboo,” he read one sign, slowly and carefully. “Daddy, what’s that mean?”

“That means that forest is closed to people. It’s so very dangerous that the government has forbidden people from setting foot there,” he explained. “We’re going this way, toward the beach.” He pointed in the opposite direction and smiled.

“Are we going to see the ocean?” Emery asked excitedly. “Can I play in the water?”

“If you’re careful,” Mom said. “First we’ll eat, then you can play for a while. But stay close to Daddy, alright?”

“Yes, Mommy,” Emery said. “Can Miles play too?” Miles was still small, not yet up to all the walking they were doing so Mom and Dad were taking turns carrying him.

“If you help watch him,” Daddy said seriously. “Maybe the two of you can collect sea shells.”

“That will be fun, right Mi?” Emery said. He was rewarded by a giggle from his younger brother and nodded, scampering ahead on the path toward the ocean.