“Can we come in?” Lori asked.
Emily looked over the top of the fort she had built with Lisa. Their little sister Lori and brother Greg were back, and they wanted to come in. Again.
“No,” Emily said.
“Please?” Greg asked.
“No,” Lisa repeated.
Emily and Lisa had spent an hour building their fort out of cushions and sheets and cardboard boxes. It was perfect. They had built it next to the Ping-Pong table, and to get in you had to crawl through a tunnel under the table. It was tall enough to stand up in, but there wasn’t enough room for little brothers and sisters.
“You already have your own fort,” Emily said.
“OK,” Lori sighed. “Let’s go.” Greg followed her back to their fort. It was just a blanket draped over a chair. It didn’t have a tunnel or anything.
“They’re gone!” Lisa said. “Now we can play.” She opened their box of paper dolls. Emily cut out a dress she had drawn. They set up the rest of their game—the castle, the servants’ quarters, the wicked prince.
They played for a while, but it wasn’t as fun as usual.
“I’m bored,” Lisa said, setting down her paper doll.
“And I don’t want to be the prince anymore,” Emily said. “Maybe we need more people to play. Maybe Lori and Greg could help.”
“No,” Lisa said. “They’ll just ruin the clothes, and they won’t play the games we want them to.”
“Yeah. I guess I’m done playing this game. Let’s do something else.”
“Let’s build a tree fort!” Lisa said.
Outside, Emily and Lisa dragged boards over to the giant cherry tree. They made a platform they could sit on in the middle of the tree. It was perfect. They could reach ripe cherries right where they sat!
Soon they heard the back door open. Here came Lori and Greg. Their eyes got big when they saw the fort.
“Can we come up?” Lori asked.
“Can we have some cherries?” Greg asked.
“No,” Emily said. “Get your own cherries.”
Lisa looked at Emily, then nodded. “Go play in your own fort.”
“But our fort’s no fun!” Lori wailed. “It’s no fun without you!” Lori ran back to the house, and Greg followed.
Lisa was quiet after they left. She ate another cherry. “Maybe we should have let them come up,” she said.
Emily nodded. “We weren’t very nice,” she said quietly.
“What do you think we should do?”
“I have an idea …” Emily said.
Soon Lisa and Emily sneaked back to their old fort, where Lori and Greg were playing. They left a note outside the tunnel door, knocked, then ran outside. Lori read the note out loud: “We’re sorry we were so mean. We want to play with you too. Love, Lisa and Emily.”
“They want to play with us!” Greg shouted. He pushed open the tunnel door and raced outside. Lori followed. This time Lisa and Emily let them climb up. They all crowded onto the small platform and ate cherries.
“We were thinking we should build a town,” Emily said. “I’ll run the store and be the seamstress.”
“I’ll write the newspaper,” Lisa said, “and Greg can be the postman. And the mayor.”
“What will I be?” Lori asked.
“You can run the store with me,” Emily said.
They all climbed down and ran back to the playroom. Lisa and Lori cut out cardboard coins while Emily and Greg took down the giant fort. They would need the cushions and boxes to build the post office and the grocery store and their houses. And later, maybe even a zoo.