All I could hear were the bangs and knocks of my life heading down the stairs and into that massive white lorry. Actually, it wasn’t white, but it was supposed to be because it had those sayings written on the side: also in white and clean me so you could tell. Dad was complaining that my stuff was taking up too much space, but I had carefully packed it all into neat boxes and it didn’t seem more to me than David’s bulky toys and games all shoved willy nilly on the front lawn. Mum kept shouting up the stairs; random, pointless things she didn’t really need help with, but I knew it was her way of trying to get me down there, to be with them in this chaotic, bad... no, terrible decision.
I stood at my bay window. Its cushions which had been made by Grandma through my childhood were already downstairs, so I didn’t want to sit on the wide sill where I had spent hours of my life. I had read so many stories there, and dreamt a few up myself. I had watched the rains come and go, I had eaten ice cream, I had spent hours on the phone. I had also sat in silence, contemplating, watching the birds, or David and his friends in the garden, or my parents late at night sharing a bottle of wine on the terrace. I had written poems and tales and let the papers fall to the floor as my hand couldn’t keep up with my imagination. I had sat and stroked Bambi and learnt what good listeners animals can be as you are growing up. I had shared this special space with Carla, Rachel and Frannie and we had sat and painted each others’ toe nails, pulling the stereo over to the corner late into the night so we could still have our music and not wake my parents. Then Michael had come and sat with me and we had kissed and talked. And all the while, outside my special window, the leaves had turned different colours, disappeared and sprouted bright green again, year after year after year...
“Darling, the men are nearly there, so Dad’s going over the directions with them and we’ll be off. David’s playing up so I need you to be your usual wonderful self with him, OK? It’s not easy for him. Well, us too, but we understand a bit more, don’t we?”
Mum had stayed at the frontier to my world, the cusp of my own private universe. I loved that she didn’t barge in, or expect me to turn around. She knew I was listening.
I heard her step away and spend some time going through the empty rooms, saying goodbye to her own special places. She bounced on the wonky floorboard that had always been in front of their wardrobe and had driven Dad crazy. He had always avoided it, but I think Mum got comfort from it somehow, like you do when you know your space inside out. I heard her heave a long sigh. It was wrong of me to think this was easier for them I guess, though I would never admit that to them out loud.
I looked out the window again and brought what was I was holding up in front of me. It was White Bear, a teddy my great aunt Harriet had sent me from Australia when I had been born. He had always been called White Bear and Mum had always done her best to keep him white, craftily washing him while I was sleeping, or over at friends’ houses so that he would always be where he always was, guarding my room from the bay window sill. His green eyes looked back at me now and I tried to imagine him in a new place; a new room, a new view, new colours on the walls. My heart thumped in my chest, which was tightening with the desire for tears. No, I had decided it last night; it was the right thing to do.
I placed White Bear back in his corner, where during the winter he would be kept company by birds resting on the bare branches outside the glass. During summer, the light would hit his fur and warm him as it cast golden beams across my, no... the room. Now, it was autumn and a gentle breeze rolled leaves outside. He would be OK.
I stepped back from the bay window and turned towards the door. At the border, I looked back and smiled. I knew it would be another girl who would have this room and I knew she would love White Bear and keep him white and let him guard her and her world; keep her safe and sane as she grew up. Then the empty space caught up with me and a tear trickled out. I swallowed the rest back down. I heard doors slamming outside and the car beeped its horn.
I blew a kiss across the door and into my wonderful past. I gently closed the door and walked down stairs. Outside was the car, taking me to my future.