Nostalgia was hitting you hard. You were starting to run out of room for things in your apartment and had decided that it was probably about time you gutted the place. You just hadn’t realized that you would basically be reliving your whole life while you were at it.
And so here you were, playing old video games, reading old books, messing around with old toys, and pushing off actually getting rid of anything. You had to wonder how you managed to forget about half of this stuff. You’d had such awesome toys as a kid! Part of you really wanted to keep all of this so you could show your kids whenever you had some. But you also knew that this stuff was just taking up space at this point, so at least some of it had to go.
A sigh escaped you as you started sorting everything into piles. One pile for things that needed thrown out, another for things to give away, and one for things that you wanted to keep. But gosh you were going to have a hard time figuring out what things to put in each. So with a disgruntled sigh you got to work.
Two hours later found you still sitting in the middle of an extremely messy room with very little progress made. But you were having a ridiculously hard time picking out things to get rid of; especially your stuffed animals. Part of you still held onto the childish idea that their feelings would be hurt if you gave them away and that made you feel guilty. They’d been with you your whole life and to give them away would almost be like betrayal.
“Kind of almost wish I had kids now,” you muttered, staring down at an old teddy bear of yours. “At least then I’d know my stuff was in good hands.” A frightened squeak came from behind you and you turned to see a small child shivering in your doorway.
“Um…hello?” Your confused greeting only seemed to make the child more worried because he darted to the side behind the wall but not enough to be completely hidden. His action drew your attention to the bouncing curl that extended from the top of his head. An uneasy feeling filled you as you carefully leaned over to get a better glimpse of the boy.
“Hey, you can come out,” you said, gently. “I’m not going to hurt you.” Your quiet tone seemed to ease the boy’s fear just enough for him to inch back into the doorway, eyes flicking between you and the door. You had to hold back a gasp as you really got a look at him. He looked exactly like Canada but as a chibi. But how was that possible?
You realized your silence was starting to upset him again so you quickly smiled at him to show that you meant what you said. A shaky smile worked its way onto his face, making your own grow slightly.
“So what are you doing here, sweetheart?” you asked, holding a hand out to him. Little Canada slowly made his way over to you and put his tiny hand into yours.
“I-I don’t k-know. W-where am I?”
“You’re in my house. I’m guessing you don’t know how you got here either, huh?”
“Ah, well that’s a problem.” You carefully pulled little Canada over to you and had him stand in front of you. “So you have nowhere to go then?” Your question made his eyes water up and you quickly started hushing him, even going so far as to pull him into a gentle hug.
“Hey, now, no crying. Ssh ssh. Everything will be alright. I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you stay with me.”
“A-are you sure, Miss?”
You pulled away just enough to smile down at him. “Of course I’m sure. I couldn’t just leave you all by yourself.”
“You can call me (Name), sweetheart.”
“My n-name is Matthew.”
“It’s very nice to meet you, Matthew.”
“Maman!” A tense and frightful whisper shot through your dreams, waking you up to a dark room.
“Maman!” You blinked the sleep away and rolled over to see Matthew standing next to your bed, hand reached out as he prepared to shake you. A yawn escaped you as you reached over to flick on your beside lamp before lifting Matthew up to cuddle him on your lap. Having him call you Mom in French was new but you couldn’t find anything wrong with it. Especially if it made him feel better.
“What’s wrong, Mattie?” you cooed, lightly rocking him. He whimpered and burrowed into your chest, hands clutching at your shirt.
“I had a n-nightmare.”
You held back a sigh. He’d been having nightmares so often lately, and they were all about the same thing; you leaving him. It was beginning to worry you.
“Was it the same one?” All you got was a nod before he hid his face in the crook of your neck. You held him tight as you felt a few tears fall from his face to your neck.
“Don’t worry, Mattie. I’m not going anywhere. I would never leave you alone.”
You shifted him to free one of your hands, lifting it up so he could see it. “Pinky promise,” you said, with a smile, holding out your pinky for him. Matthew giggled lightly and reached out to link his tiny pinky with yours. Your smile widened and you squeezed his pinky before letting it go to hold his hand. He sighed quietly and rested his head against your shoulder.
A sudden thought came to you and you gently pried him off of you, setting him down so you could climb down from your bed.
“Maman? Where are you going?” Matthew asked, voice quavering slightly. You sent a reassuring smile back at him as you made your way to your closet.
“I’m getting something I think will help you with your nightmares,” you said, rummaging around through the items inside. Luckily for you, having Matthew show up gave you a reason to keep all of your old games, toys, and books. And you had a feeling that was definitely going to come in handy right now.
After a few minutes of quiet cursing and throwing stuff around, you finally found what you were looking for. With a satisfied nod, you grabbed the item in question and shut your closet before heading back over to Matthew.
“What’s that?” he asked, crawling over to you as you sat on the edge of the bed.
“This,” you said, holding out a white teddy bear,” is an old stuffed animal of mine. I used to hold onto him whenever I had nightmares so maybe he can help you too.” With a slight look of awe, Matthew climbed onto your lap to pet the bear.
“It’s so soft,” he whispered. You smiled lightly and scooted back onto the bed with him.
“Do you like it?”
Matthew turned to show you a bright smile.
“I love it, Maman!”
You smiled again and leaned down to kiss his forehead. “That’s good.” Matthew giggled lightly and took the bear from your hands to hug it tight. You chuckled and started situating the two of you under the blankets.
“What are you going to call him?”
“I like Kumajiro.”
You almost laughed at that. How he managed to name this bear the same name as his polar bear in the anime you’d never know.
“That’s a wonderful name,” you said, reaching over to shut your light off. Matthew sighed and nestled into you, keeping a firm grip on Kumajiro.
“I love you, Maman.”
“I love you too, Matthew.”
You had never been more glad to have held onto your stuffed animals for so long.