All Kath could see of Robbie under his covers, was a fan of black hair and two very large brown eyes. They looked like thy might go on growing wider and wider until his face was nothing but eyes — and possibly a hint of quivering bottom lip, under that sheet.
Kath pick her way through the scattered contents of moving boxes (tomorrow!) and sat on the edge of her son’s bed.
The little piece of his face that had been showing slid under the sheet. She reached out and stroked the tuft of hair.
“You had such soft, fair hair when you were a baby,” she said. “And look at it now.”
A hand emerged from under the sheet and batted hers away. A muffled but decidedly disgruntled “beep beep” accompanied the gesture. One beep for yes, two for no. Kath pulled back the covers.
“You have to use words, Robbie. Remember?” Her voice was carefully soft.
The ‘beep’ was barely audible and followed by a louder,
“So, what do you think of your new room? It’s a lot bigger than your old one, right?”
Robbie stared up at her, still saucer-eyed. His gaze flicked around the room and came back to her.
“When are we going home, Mama?”
He never called her that anymore. Kath fought to keep her face from scrunching. She was definitely not going to let her eyes fill up.
“We are home, Rob-a-tron,” she managed. “This is our lovely new house and I’m sure it’ll start to feel like home as soon as we make some new memories to put in it.”
Robbie sat up, blinking.
“Is that what happens? The memories live in the house?”
Kath was just about to congratulate herself on engaging him when he cut across her private party with a rush of questions.
“What happens to all our memories from the old house? Are they still there? Can’t we bring them with us? Am I going to have to forget about Bobby and Cole and my little cubby and the climbing tree? And what about Santa and the Tooth Fairy? Are they going to know where we’ve gone? And how can I go to sleep without rubbing the little flap of wallpaper by my pillow?”
He ran out of breath and stared at Kath, forehead creased.
What could she say? That it’d be OK? (It would, by not necessarily tonight). That she knew how he felt? (Even though this was the first she’d heard about the wall paper? It did, however, explain a few of the quick fixes she and Don had had to execute after the big orange moving truck had packed up their lives and carried them away).
She did the only thing she could do: hug him until he squirmed. Then she snuggled in beside him, as she had every night of his life, book in hand. Nowadays they took turns reading paragraphs to each other. She had cried silently, on the last night when she had read to him in what he just now learning to think of as his ‘first bedroom’. She hadn’t been able to picture reading him bedtime stories anywhere else. Now, this strange new room was auditioning for the new role of ‘home’. With the lights low and their voices filling the air, Robbie and Kath took turns closing their eyes and willing this new place to do its job.