Always a Child
The door creaked open, stirring up stale air and dust.
The room was quiet, lying abandoned for so long.
Among the discarded winter boots, the old record player, broken antique chairs and rolls of wrapping paper from so many Christmas's ago, she saw them.
They were all huddled together in two large, dusty, plastic bags. They'd been there forever it seemed like. Waiting. Waiting to be found again.
These creatures knew everything about her. They knew secrets she never told anyone else. They knew her laughter, her tears, her anger, her imagination. They went with her on journeys to all the places she ever wanted to go when she was younger. They were her shipmates, her companions, her guardians. Her friends. And they'd been with her longer than any other.
Now, as she looked at them now, all spread out over her bedroom floor only a short time later, she felt happiness and regret. She was reunited with faces she hadn't looked upon in years. She thought of her mother, of the abandonment she'd felt after she herself had been tossed away so long ago. She'd done the same to them.
I'm not her, she assured herself. I came back.
Tears burned as she looked into the dark eyes of the old worn Pooh Bear sitting above all the others. He'd known her since her birth, kept her safe in her crib while the babysitter was in the next room watching television. The giant bunny and polar bear, both having too names each. A rainbow colored dog looked up at her, it's happy face and hanging tongue seemingly waiting for a pat on the head.
She must have looked so different to them now. Can that be her? she could almost hear them wonder. What happened to the little girl who used to turn her bed into a boat and we'd all sail off to someplace better? Where's the girl who held us a night while the war downstairs continued, or when she felt lonely and abandoned? Where's our princess?
I'm still here, she thought. And I'm sorry…I'm sorry I left you all alone in the cold, dark room for all these years…He would have made you leave me if I'd kept you around. He would have tossed you away the first chance he got. He doesn't know you like I do. He doesn't know me like you do. He doesn't care.
Many eyes watched her as she climbed into bed. She felt safe for the first time in many, many years. They were all together again, but she didn't know for how long. He'd come to take them away, she knew.
But for now she curled up in the blankets of the bed that wasn't hers, wrapping her arms around a few of her newer friends, wondering, like a child, if the new ones and the old ones would get along alright.
She'd intermingled them around her room. Tiny frogs from a trip to the zoo when she was six sat on the lap of the little stuffed Pikachu on her dresser. All of the lions she owned were put in a group far, far away from the pigs. The Pooh Bear sat in the very middle of the wooden table beside her bed. The tiny Kermit bean bag doll guarded over the small turtle plush near the television.
They'd look after her, and they'd look after each other.
In her heart she believed it.
Then again, in her heart she was always a child.