we sit on the concrete curb, grass tickling our legs, as he paws through an old worn suitcase, passing treasures he has collected, over the years, to me, one at a time. a one armed batman in yellow and black, a matchbox car with his name scratched in the hood, a spoon from a sundae, remnants of chocolate dried hard in its creases. he keeps pulling them out, handing them over silently, as if their stories will tell themselves.
i don't see any toys in the yards...
up and down the asphalt that spreads in each direction from where we sit, cookie cutter houses stand like silent sentinels over freshly mowed yards, bisected neatly by driveways; no toys to be found. no bikes, dropped as kids rush in, to make it in time for dinner. no baseballs, bats or gloves, discarded haphazardly as the next big adventure loomed.
what if i don't have anyone to play with?
his new school is minutes away. we visited the play ground, swinging from the monkey bars and testing out the slides. these too sat quiet in the afternoon sun, empty of the laughter and squeals that bring the wood and steel to life. standing on the highest point, he put his hand to his forehead, shading his eyes, in case the light was hiding someone from his view.
what if they hate me like my last mom?
as we were driving over, his eyes never left the window, watching life roll passed us, except when a particular song came on the radio. 'temporary home', his favorite, because that is all they are to him, temporary. the number of hands that have held, then dropped him, exceeds his age. he is eleven.
why do you think she hated you?
these are the moments that turn my stomach, making me want to take him home with me. i don't want him to go through another broken heart, when the parents that swore they were ready to handle whatever happened, give him back, like they expect a refund. but i have to, and each time he takes a little piece of my heart with him.
my sister told me, and anyway, that mom didn't keep me either...
slowly, we place each memory back into the suitcase that has followed him around like a puppy dog all these years. dusting off our shorts, we turn and face a little white house, in the heart of suburbia. slipping my arm across his shoulders, we walk through the lawn toward his new home, each step heavy, as if we were reaching the summit of the tallest mountain, hoping this time not to fall.