The children are taken off me by the Hat.
Today she comes, breaking into my life like summer sunshine on a winter's day, waving tickets for The Adventures of Sancho Panza. And off she whirls, towing Tiger and Squirrel, to entertain them elsewhere, feed them, amuse them, and bring them home, late.
Without another person in the house to lead me, cajole me, demand of me, and tell me, I am left to my own ways.
The house is quiet. It will be quiet for hours. I prowl around, examining the rooms, watching how objects are placed about me. I pick up coats thrown over chairs. I pick up books from floors. The sewing on a table, left discarded, I wrap up, to put away. Underneath, lies Squeaky Mouse. I take him to the toy box. Toy box. Too big for the space. How it occupies all the room! I wish it were gone. I poke my fingers inside. Stuffed with random cuddly toys. No-one plays with these, surely not now. I look at the wall behind, and ponder how it would beckon me with a smart grown-up bookcase, the too-big toy box gone, along with the guardians that hang over it; two broad shelves filled with objects that once amused children.
I begin moving furniture in my head, exploring what if, entertaining dark and dangerous thoughts. While my children are gone, I could snap my fingers and make this happen, change that, rearrange those, bring in these, hide away that. The toy box I would give away. Some other family, whose floor is cluttered and scattered with cuddly toys and no-where to hide them. You need this wooden box.
From its cuddly-filled insides, I pick up a soft puppet bird. He can go. But at the time, oh he was a find! You can make his wings flap and his beak crow! And Pooh Bear. He is bent on one side; one ear flat against his head, one ear picked up; a leftover shape where Tiger in her toddler bed cuddled him so tight, crooked under her right arm, fierce in sleep, holding on to what is hers. Pooh bear. I wouldn't get rid of Pooh Bear. Shark's hippo? He can stay, too, only because she might plead. Remember how he arrived, wrapped in a box, under a tree? The wish fairies had lifted him from an African river but had grown tired of his belly-aching complaining, so they abandoned the ingrate, dropped him on the path, and flown away to transport pelicans to Japan. We took him in. You never know when those wicked fairies tire of their amusements, to dump their unwilling carriages on your doorsteps. But the excitement of that day! And Squirrel's cat. Green eyed cat, looking ridiculous in a home-made knitted skirt and matching hat. I shall keep that as punishment for the cat. My kookaburra, the one that laughs, well of course he can stay. And Squeaky Mouse. Just for now, while the house is quiet, I'll put them back in the toy box, the one that's in the way.