She could not see any harmony in it, nor could she find any word which might transcribe what “it” was exactly. She stood still, marveled at the sight that surrounded her. She knew instantly that every single object in the room was waiting for her; but at that point, she simply stood still and appreciated the fact of being there, overwhelmed by a sense of unison.
Lianne would not have been able to say how she had come upon this room. She could remember she had quite a bad day, as she had had an argument with her mom, something that seldom happened. Even if they had made up, she had sobbed a long time in her bed before falling asleep. She was afraid that she and her mom should stop loving each other the way they were used to. She did not want to grow up as her siblings had, drifting away from the family cocoon. She was aware they now displayed an air of patient boredom each time they came home. She did not want to grow up at all, if that was what happened to people.
Then Lianne had fallen asleep, and now she was here. And she was positive it was not a dream – it could not be one. A dream takes one by surprise; and once one is in it, one can never really grab hold of any part of it – one is always running after facts, after solidity, after reality. A dream makes one feel as if one were constantly fading away.
She had not been taken at all by surprise. She could definitely remember the whirl of lurid colors that had taken her away. For some time, she had just stopped thinking. She had always been very good at doing that – that is, stopping thinking and just going with the flow. She was not the kind of person who could be easily taken aback, and right now, she was as far as one could possibly be from being flabbergasted. Everything around her was marvelous, but not surprising. She had decided a long time ago that magic would accompany her throughout her life. Still, she thought, it was a great pleasure to see magic come reality tonight, exactly when she most needed it.
For she was sure she was standing in a magical room – and so were all the objects that surrounded her. She was drawn by them, as if a charm had bound them and her together.
At some point, she decided to break the glass, and really to look at the objects – perhaps in order to understand them. The room was full of a colored jumble that excited her eyes. In one huge jar of at least her height, she saw what seemed to her like tons of hair clips and scrunchies and brooches. All the different pigments and shades made the jar look like some paintings she had seen last week in the museum. “If I had that many scrunchies”, she thought, “maybe I’d stop worrying about losing them all the time! And the jar would look pretty in my room!” But her attention was already caught elsewhere, and she suddenly burst out laughing. On one of the wall hung a clothesline, that bore almost only socks. Each sock was unique, and their patterns, side by side, made a rather clashing combination. Here, a little bear was flirting with Tweety Pie, while Mickey Mouse was not such a big hit with the Pink Panther. These were actually the kind of socks she wore, only, she would never mixed them up like that. Dangling at different places on the clothesline were also one or two bathing suits and pairs of panties. She carried on laughing: “Having panties hanging on the wall like that is not very discreet!” she thought. Indeed, she had just remembered that, when she was little, she used to think people were talking about “discreet panties”, whereas what they were really saying was “discrepancy”. She giggled and went on looking about the room. Here was a box full of cents, a case overflowing with pens, and even a coffret with broken candles. The candles looked exactly like the ones that she had been given for her last birthday, and which she had broken when she had wanted to light them. They had disappeared, like a lot of things did in her bedroom when she stopped looking after them. “It would be so funny if they were really my candles!” she thought.
That’s when she saw it: the old teddy bear that she had left behind one day in kindergarten, and had never found again. She remembered she had not wanted to miss it too much, because she wanted so much to be a brave girl. Still, she could remember it, because one cannot really forget a blue teddy-bear. She grabbed it. How strange this feeling was – to be a three-year-old girl again! As she held it, a flood of memories burst back into her head: she remembered. How magical and overwhelming true remembrance is, the sort that blurs the distinction between past and present! Her bear in her arms, she took a new look about the room: were all these objects once hers?
That looked pretty likely. After all, she had had all this kind of stuff. And she had lost a lot of things in her life, things that she would never have remembered if she had not come upon this room. Had she been a little older, she would perhaps have observed this scene in a more tragic light. She could have thought this room was a way of telling her she was doomed, like every other human being, and that all her worldly possessions would inevitably be lost. That class of thoughts, however, was unknown to her. Nor did she think that the room was some kind of punishment, a rebuke for her selective memory. She just took it as a wonderful way to explore her past. She started to run everywhere, springing from one object to another, trying to remember what everything was. Here were the earrings her sister had lent her against her better judgment and that she had lost. Her sister had cried a lot over that, and she had felt very guilty – but she could not know the earrings would not stay on her doll while she’d play outside. Plus, she had really tried to find them again, and she had looked for them until dusk, something she normally wasn’t allowed to do. Still, she thought, her sister could have been more understanding-she was only seven years old at the time! It was like the time she had broken Nana’s vase. She had spent time with her afterwards putting it back together, and it really wasn’t her fault if one of the bits had suddenly disappeared. And here, of course, was that self-same that she had been so sad not to retrieve at the time.
Actually, she thought, it was very strange to find all these objects she had lost. On the one hand, she really thought it was a tremendous experience. She wanted to touch everything, and she was so happy to find some of the stuff she really missed. Her teddy-bear was one such thing, of course, but so was the locket she had been given when she was born and that she had mysteriously lost at the swimming-pool – she always thought somebody had stolen it from her. But could she take all these precious things back home? She did not think so. She certainly could look at them and touch them. But if they were magical, how could she carry them from the magical room to her own, very plain bedroom? They would die over there, or at least suffer some similar fate that must befall objects. Because of this, partly, and because there were so many memories that came back to her, she felt an indistinct sense of guilt. She could hear whispers: “How could you abandon us?,” they said, “how could you forget us?”. Maybe the room was a punishment after all. She tried to find some excuses, as she had for her sister’s earrings, but what could she say? She was starting to understand that people have to grow up, and that to that end, they have to leave some of their belongings behind them. She looked at the whole room and cried: “I can’t keep you all with me, I don’t have enough room at home!”.
Then something very strange happened. Well, she would have said it was strange had she not already been in a room full of objects she had lost, and wherein her presence remained unexplained. In any case, she was starting to hear some real voices. Now, this was getting too weird: how could objects be alive? Certainly, when she was little, she had heard stories about teddy-bears that were talking and things like that, but even so! She calmed herself down, and decided to pay attention. After everything that had already happened, maybe was it a little ridiculous to become suddenly skeptical.
She proved right to do so. First of all, it was not all the objects that were talking, but only her bear. She could cope with that, since she had already read a story about a talking teddy-bear that took place in Russia. She had re-named her teddy-bear Michka just after having read it, so it was just logical that he should start to act like his namesake. And it turned out to be a really nice teddy-bear that understood her very well. It was not speaking in some language she would have taken ages to decipher.
“Don’t be afraid,” he said, “we don’t mean you any harm. We know it’s hard for you to find us this way. We don’t want you to make a choice, nor to apologize. You know, we just wanted to say hello, to tell you we were here. That way, if you ever have a problem, or a question, or a regret, you can always come back: we’ll be here for you. Take us as we are: friends from the past!”. Okay that was a very reassuring speech. Yet she did not know if she could answer: that would be like talking to her bear, and she was not four years old anymore! Still, she tried to utter a timid sentence: “How will I know that you will always be here? I forget things you know…” At that point, she could swear Michka had smiled, but she would have denied it had anyone asked. “You know, you can take whatever you want from here! Even everything! The room will start to fill up again anyway; you’ll be losing things all your life!” “But it’s a magical place,” she said, “magical objects are going to lose their magic once they’re back in my life!” “Why would they?” “Look, I don’t want to take everything from here. It would lose its meaning! I just want one single thing–that way it would keep its magic, because it would be unique.” “I dare say that’s the best decision. And what will you chose?”.
The teddy-bear looked pretty sure he would be the chosen one. She was not very happy about that – she did not like it to be so self-confident. And she was a big girl now, she did not really need teddy-bears anymore, she had enough of them back at home. With a regretful smile, she put it back on one of the tables. The teddy-bear blinked twice, by way of a good-bye. Obviously, it tried not to look disappointed: it was too proud for that. She looked around the whole room. She could definitely have taken something gorgeous: there were jewels, and clothes, and dolls. There were notebooks that were so pretty and that she had lost before writing a single word in them. There was glitter, and tinsel, and pearls that would have made her room look magical. She did not want something so obvious, she thought. Then she went back to the jar, one of the first things she had seen. She hauled herself up on to the cap, and unscrewed it with some difficulty. She closed her eyes, and plunged her hand into it.
Lianne went on losing things, a lot of things. But there is one thing she never lost, because it could not be lost: it was the purple scrunchie she had retrieved from the giant jar. From now on, each time she felt sad, worried, or even merely thoughtful, she would put it in her hair. What happened then depended on the days: maybe she would go back in the magic chamber, or maybe she would just be more self-confident. But that way, she’d never forget she had a past, and therefore, she was no longer afraid to grow up.