If I stick my fingers in my ears and close my eyes she won’t be able to hear or see me and she’ll go away.
Who am I kidding? I tried that when I was four and she didn’t go away. I’ll have to try something else. I know, I’ll pretend that I’ve lost something really important and we absolutely, definitely can’t leave until I’ve found it. Yes, that’ll work.
I make my way downstairs to where she’s waiting, hands on hips, so I’d better make this a good one or she’ll look right through it and I’ll be in massive trouble.
“Mum, I’ve lost…,” oh help, what have I lost? Quick, quick, think, think. “I’ve lost that special coin that Grandad gave me.” Yes, that’ll do. “I think it’s slipped down between some floorboards in my bedroom. I’ll just go and see. I won’t be long,” and before she has a chance to stop me I run back upstairs, back to my room. My room.
I pull up the carpet at the edge and start scrambling around loudly, so she can hear. If I can keep this up, we might stay a bit longer. Oh no, I can hear footsteps on the stairs. Heavy ones. ‘I’ve had enough now’ ones. It’s no good. I’m about to be busted.
“Found it!” and I pretend to put something in my jeans pocket just as she gets to the door. She looks cross, really cross.
“Come on, Archie, it’s time to go,” I hear her say for the hundredth time. But I don’t want to go. Ever. I like this house. My house. Our house. Mine and mum’s and dad’s and Amy’s house.
“Amy is waiting in the car and the truck is ready to leave. It’s a long journey and I don’t want to arrive in the dark,” she says.
We’re moving, you see. Not just house, but school as well. And not just house and school, but lives as well. I’ve leaving my life here. Mum says we’ll make a new life. But I like mine just as it is. Just as it was. With mum and dad and Amy and me. Now it’s just mum and Amy and me. Dad’s already got a new house, and a new life, but not with us.
I feel a tear trying to escape from the corner of my eye. I carefully brush it away by pretending to pick my nose, because I don’t want mum to see, but I think she did. She’s cried for all of us, in her room when she thinks I’m asleep.
“Coming,” I say, and turn towards her with the biggest smile I can manage on my face. She smiles back and holds out her hand.
“Come on, Archie,” she says, her voice softer than it was before. “The new house is lovely and its much nearer Grandad’s. He’ll be able to pick you up from school when I get a job.”
I hear Grandad’s voice in my head. “It’s time to be a big boy now for your mum. I’ll be there to help you.”
But I still don’t want to leave.