Rosy was staring out her window when she heard footsteps in the hallway. She leaped back into bed, covered herself with the thin summer blanket, and closed her eyes, trying to breathe naturally as she did so. She had been out of bed and standing, staring out of the window, for the past hour – she was quite sick of lying down all day and it made her muscles hurt. That didn’t mean, however, that she was ready for her parents to know that yet.
Matt opened the door slowly, and, upon seeing Rosy’s slightly flushed face, he deduced that she was awake and only pretending to be asleep at the moment. Nevertheless, he walked slowly into the room, shut the door quietly, and sat down gently on the bed, as if trying not to startle her out of sleep.
As he ran one large, rough hand over her brow, Rosy opened her eyes slowly, trying to seem groggy. She looked at him for a moment, and then turned her head from his face. She couldn’t stand when he looked at her like that, his face suffused with love. If he loved her so much, she thought, he’d make everything work out with Mama.
Rosy’s reasonable side immediately flared up at this thought, and began chiding her – “your parents DO love you – you know the divorce has nothing to do with you really!” – but before her thoughts could get into a serious flurry, she turned her head back to Matt’s face.
“What?” She asked sullenly.
“Are you feeling any better, Rose-Bud?” Matt asked quietly.
“Are you feeling very rotten?”
“I’m so sorry, Rosy,” Matt whispered. The door creaked open once more, and he looked around to see Laura peeking in. She entered the room and came and sat down on the other side of Rosy, perching on the little room that was left there for her.
Rosy looked from one parent to the other before fixing her gaze on the ceiling. She hadn’t seen her parents together in the room since the day she had entered her bed and refused to leave it. She had forgotten, somehow, how nice their faces looked, close together like this.
Matt and Laura exchanged a weighted glance, both of them steeling themselves for the conversation to come. Their eyes seemed to be conversing: -You with me? –Yes, we’ll do this together. –For our girl. –For our Rosy.
“Rosy,” Laura began with a barely concealed sigh. “You know Papa and I are getting divorced – you’ve heard us talking about it. We should have had a conversation about this earlier.”
Rosy continued to stare at the ceiling.
“Honey, we never meant to put you in such distress,” continued Matt. “We want you to understand that this has nothing to do with you. Mama and I love you very much, and we’ll both always be in your life. We’d never leave you – neither of us – and no matter what happens, we’re always going to make sure you know we’re both here for you.”
Rosy was fighting the urge to roll her eyes. She could almost hear her parents practicing this – this – this horrid TV-mom-and-dad talk. She wasn’t stupid, she knew all this. She knew her parents loved her, at least in some distant, rational part of her brain. The rational part also knew that she was probably getting one of the best divorces there could be – neither of her parents had some other creepy person on the side, and neither of them was going to move to Alaska and start a band. She knew her life would be pretty normal even after the divorce, and she knew also that she would be alright with this in time.
But Rosy’s rationality didn’t seem to alleviate the pain in her chest and the tears that prickled in her eyes as her parents kept on talking about how much they loved her, how much they were worrying about her, and how much they hoped she could forgive them.
As Rosy screwed up her eyes and felt the tears streaming out from under her closed eyelids, she felt something shift inside her mind. As her parents both showered her with kisses and held her hands and wept a little bit with her, she could feel her irrational thinking begin changing its views. It seemed as if more and more of her mind began to agree with what her small, rational space had been saying all along, that “They love me, they do love me, it’s going to be alright because they love me.”
Rosy stayed in bed for another day after the conversation. After that day, though, she got up, she hugged her parents, and she went to school. She felt rotten still, and would keep feeling horrible all through her mother’s moving into an apartment building down the street, all through the faux-cheery shopping trip for furniture for the new room for Rosy in her mother’s small apartment, all through the year or so it took for her to get used to spending half a week in one place and the other half in another. Eventually, though, as Rosy passed into her teens with two smashing birthday parties, one in each of her homes, she grew used to it. She knew she would, but that didn’t make it any less pleasant to wake up one morning and realize that she was content, finally.