About: Nora, Sarah, Kitty, Kevin, Justin and a guest-appearance by Jason.
Disclaimer: The Walkers aren’t mine.
Summary: Nora is ready to sell her house, but cleaning up is not as easy as she thought it would be.
Author's note: In my own season 7 Tommy died. This story deals partly with Nora’s grieving over this (in case someone was wondering) but you don’t have to have read my own series 6&7 to get this story.
Nora’s shoulders sink. Tommy's room will be the toughest room to clean, she’s sure of that. She opens up the moving-box more fully. She climbs up a little stool to take down the school-banners. Each one representing a school that he had attended. When she closes her eyes she can still see his smile. Those beautiful brown eyes….
She folds the banners and puts them carefully on the bottom of the box. With all the colorful banners gone, the wall suddenly looks empty and dull. It’s almost scary, because it feels that with each one she takes off the wall he’s slipping even further away from her and for a moment she wonders if she would eventually even forget him.
How stupid! How could she forget her first son? Of course she wouldn’t forget him, but it seems so hard to remember too somehow. He’d been gone for so long before he came back to leave forever… Nora sighs deeply, she shakes with the emotions that go through her, she wipes away a tear, pretends it’s just the dust that makes her teary-eyed.
She moves on to the next wall. A large closet takes up most of the space. Again she picks up the small stool, climbs on it to see if there’s something on top of the closet, but there’s nothing but a thick layer of dust.
She opens the door on the left and starts by putting Tommy’s clothes in plastic bags. All of his clothes are still in good condition and should go to some charitable organization. She takes her notebook and writes “Call Jason – ask for charity-thing”. Within minutes the right side of the closet is cleaned out and the left side follows as quickly.
T-shirts, pants, sweaters, jogging-suit and 2 pajamas - still in their plastic package because Tommy never used them for any ‘emergency’ at the hospital. All clothes end up in the bags. Nora wipes her forehead. She takes the bottle of water she had brought with her and gulps down the water. It helps her cool down and get her emotions in control.
She opens the mid-section of the closet and she sits down on the stool. There are five drawers on the bottom and she goes through them. Socks, underwear, all in the waste-bin. Tommy would not have wanted those to go someplace else, she’s pretty sure of that. She finds his wet-suit and decides to ask Justin if he wants to have it.
Once the drawers are done, she unwraps the sandwich she had brought. Under no circumstance would she leave the room until she was done, knowing that if she’d leave for any reason, she’d never have the courage to start again. The sandwich tastes like cardboard, because she’s too emotional to enjoy it.
It is harder than expected. She had been here more often. She had devised a strategy to clean up this room. She had estimated that the closet would take the longest to clean. The bed would be the easiest…. Everything in between had been carefully scheduled…. Everything except the emotions of course.
His wet-suit had been the hardest to deal with so far. He had always loved surfing and being in the water. He had dragged Sarah, Kitty and Kevin to the beach at every available opportunity. He had taught Kevin and Justin how to surf. The water had been one of the few places where Tommy and Kevin could be together peacefully.
And surfing had been the last thing that Justin had done with Tommy before he went back to Iraq. It had it been the good memory he had wanted to leave behind for Tommy, in case he wouldn’t come back from the war… She closes her eyes and she can almost see Tommy’s smiling face. The sun on the water, the cries of the seagulls, the salty taste of the sea….
No, that’s not the ocean she tastes, but her own tears…. She brushes them away and nods, she had known that it would be tough, but it has to be done. And it has to be done today. She has prepared herself for this day. She has the bottle of water, the thermos of coffee and the sandwiches, all prepared.
All the cleaning-material she could possibly need is next to the door and a box of tissues is close at hand. She takes a deep breath and returns to the closet, where she finds herself confronted with Tommy’s wedding-suit. It had cost a small fortune, but he had looked amazing in the suit that had been tailored to fit him perfectly.
She shakes her head. She can’t throw it away. She just can’t. She folds it up and quickly goes over to Kevin’s old bedroom, where she puts it on the bed. Then she quickly returns to Tommy’s old room, before she loses momentum. His suits and shirts all disappear indiscriminately into the bags and then she moves to a plank over her head.
She tries to see what’s there, but even on the tip of her toes, she’s still too small. Annoyed she kicks the stool into the direction of the closet and she gets on it. She throws some sheets on the floor, a blanket, a box that says ‘winter’ and contains his gloves and scarf. And finally the closet is empty with the exception of a large shoebox.
With one of Tommy’s baseball-bats, she manages to push it her way, and she takes it out of the closet. She sits down on the bed and opens the box. It has several letters addressed to Tommy. She immediately recognizes the handwriting. They are from Kevin. And from the dates, she can see that they were written when Kevin had been in law-school.
“I hate this place.” She reads. “They all act like they’ve never had a life before this school. And certainly not a childhood. They’re all so incredibly stuck up. Like they’re better than other people. When I see them, noses in the air and an attitude that begs for a beating, I just want to egg them….” Kevin writes and she laughs.
Ah, yes, the infamous incident when Julian, from further up the road, had said something bad about Kevin’s sexuality and it had prompted Tommy, very childishly, to fling about 15 eggs at Julian’s car. Childish, but effective apparently. Julian never spoke a word to either Kevin or Tommy again. Or any of the other Walker kids for that matter. Not that it mattered. Julian is still a prick.
She closes the box, when she realizes that there’s more in it, knowing it will distract her too much. She places it on the floor, just outside the door and resumes the cleaning of the room. She wants to be done before nightfall, knowing that by then the room will mostly empty of all possessions and only filled with memories, she doesn’t wish to dwell on.
THE NEXT DAY
Somehow Kevin isn’t even surprised to find the hall filled with plastic bags, when he enters his mother’s house. He had known about her big ‘clean-up’ plan. After all, the house was sold. It couldn't wait any longer...
What does surprise him, is how much there is at the bottom of the stairs. Tommy obviously had more belongings in this house than he had expected.
“Oh, Kevin, it’s good to see you.” Nora says and she walks down the stairs carrying Tommy’s wet-suit and wedding-suit. “I could throw away so much, but these…” Now that she’s closer, Kevin can see how red her eyes are. He wraps his arms around her and Nora cries silently against his shoulder.
Kevin says nothing. He just holds her, knowing that it must have been very hard for her to clean up Tommy’s room. Eventually Nora takes a step back.
“What a mess. I rolled every bag down the stairs…” She laughs and cries at the same time. Kevin only smiles briefly.
“Jason is on his way over to help get Tommy’s clothes. He will also bring two guys who will take down Tommy’s closet and bed…” Kevin informs Nora, who nods that she has gotten the message. At that moment there’s a quick knock on the open door and Justin enters.
“Wow! What a mess!”
“Thank you, love.” Nora immediately replies. “I had hoped you could need this…” She holds up Tommy’s wetsuit. Justin opens his mouth to reply that Tommy was bigger than him, and that the suit would be too large for Justin, but one look into his mother’s eyes and he knows he can’t say that to her.
“I’d love to, mom.” He answers instead and Nora gives him a wonderful smile. As she walks toward the kitchen, Kevin turns to Justin.
“It’s too big for you.”
“I know. Didn’t have the heart to tell her….” Justin admits.
“Wimp.” But Kevin’s smile is loving.
“Because you could have told her, right?” Justin challenges his brother.
“Probably not.” Kevin admits without hesitation.
“Wimp.” Justin grins.
‘You two, go upstairs and check your rooms, if there’s anything else you want to take with you, otherwise I will get rid of what is left….” Nora sounds more threatening than she had intended. The two men go upstairs to their respective rooms. Kevin stops at Tommy’s room first.
The room is stripped of everything that made it Tommy’s room. Kevin feels a certain loss that he hadn’t counted on and for a second it takes his breath away.
“Weird, huh?” He hears Justin behind him say and he nods.
“Yeah…” Kevin turns away to go to his own room.
Kevin and Scotty had already cleaned out Kevin’s room, so there isn’t much left, except for the large closet that neither of them could use. Still, Kevin has one more look around.
“Maybe Jason and his two friends can take that one down too.” Nora says.
“Fine with me. “ Kevin nods. There’s nothing left for him here.
“It’s all gone.” Nora sighs.
“It’s weird… Tommy’s room empty. Mine,…” Kevin’s voice is soft.
“… Kitty’s, Sarah’s,….” Nora adds. Justin sticks his head around the door.
“And mine too. There’s nothing left I need. If Jason can use what is left, he can take it with him…”
“Well, that’s the last of the furniture….” Jason says, wiping his hands on his jeans. Kevin and Justin had helped as much as they could.
“Thank you, Jason. I’m glad to know that all these things will be put to good use for other families, who are not so fortunate…” Nora points at the furniture in the truck.
“I can think of at least three families who are going to be happy with what we have here…”
“That’s good news…”
“I guess there’s only the downstairs left to deal with, right?” Jason asks.
“And even here everything is almost gone… Just a few boxes…” Nora rubs her upper arms against the chill she feels. The door opens again and Kitty and Sarah enter.
“Last things to take care off, right? We’re here…” Kitty takes Nora in her arms and holds her close. Nora lets her.
“I’m going to leave you guys alone….” Jason says his goodbyes, realizing the Walkers need this time for themselves. Justin, Kevin, Sarah, Kitty and Nora fan out through the house. Final checks to see if nothing remains. The last few items are put into boxes. The house sounds hollow as they walk through the empty rooms….
In her old, and now empty room Kitty closes her eyes. Memories come back. The time she had spent her when she had her cancer. She remembers her shoes. How angry she had been that Rebecca had taken her room… And then there are the memories of Robert… His laugh, his beautiful eyes, his jokes…
If she closes her eyes tightly, she can hear his voice, feel his smile on her skin as he kisses her shoulder, the warm hands that would spread over her hips and hold her. How many nights had he not held her, waiting for her nausea to go away, just holding her, kissing her hair, telling her how much he loved her….
She opens her eyes and wipes the tears away. She smiles despite her tears. Her memories of Robert are so warm and caring that she feels like she’s still basking in his love, no matter where he is. She turns around, pulls herself together, leaves the room and she softly closes the door behind her.
She walks over to Sarah’s room, where she finds Sarah, standing in the middle of the room.
“Do you remember when Paige was just born? Joe and I slept here. I was so incredibly tired all the time… Mom was so strong…”
“Wasn’t she always?” Kitty asks.
“Yes. Things were so much easier when Cooper was born, but when Paige was born… If it hadn’t been for mom, I don’t know what I would have done… Her crib would be right here. I still remember what it looked like…”
“It was grandma’s. Say what you want, but mom was in shock when she find out that Ida still had the crib she and Saul had slept in as a baby…” Kitty laughs.
“Yeah,… you’re very lucky that that contraption had been torn down by Cooper…” Sarah grins.
“If not, I would have. There was no way that Evan would sleep in that dead-trap.” They both laugh at the memory of the old impractical crib that they had both hated.
“I’m going to miss this house.” Sarah is suddenly all serious again.
“Me too.” Kitty lets her head rest against Sarah’s shoulder and Sarah caresses Kitty’s hair.
“There are so many memories here… Tommy, you, me, Kev….” Sarah sighs. “Dad…” She tries to swallow away the lump in her throat."I’ve been thinking a lot about him lately.”
“He’s been on my mind as well…” Kitty admits. They don’t need to say more to each other, they both know what is going on in the mind of the other.
“Here you girls are… House feels terribly empty…” Justin enters Sarah’s room.
“Yes… let’s get out of here and get ourselves a drink… I need it.” Sarah answers.
“Can I have one too?” Justin jokes, reminding Sarah and Kitty that he’s not allowed to drink.
“No, you cannot.” Kitty smacks him at the back of his head and when Justin lets out a little yelp of fake-pain, she immediately caresses the spot, making his hair stand up at the back of his head. Sarah shakes her head and smoothes it up again until Justin has had enough of it and pulls his head away.
“Let’s go find mom and Kev.” He says. They find Nora in her old bedroom, just about to close the window.
“It will feel weird to think that, as of tomorrow, I will no longer see this garden in the morning. Your dad used to love the view so much…”
“He sure did.” Sarah nods. “And he loved the pool…” The moment she speaks the words, she knows that she was wrong to mention this. After all, he had drowned in that same pool. Nora can see the awkwardness on her face and she smiles.
“Yes, your father loved the pool. It is the truth… And we should remember that.”
“Want to go downstairs?”
“No, Justin, you guys can go… Just give me a few minutes…” Nora asks. She can see her children nod and then she watches them leave the room. She looks around one more time.
Though the room is empty, she can still ‘see’ the bed, where she and William had slept together. She can still see the large chair, where she had breast-fed her children. She can see the small dressing table, where she used to sit and brush her hair, waiting for William to come home…
The walls are empty, but for her the pictures are still there. William in front of the doors of Ojai, Sarah’s wedding-picture, Kitty at the radio-station, Tommy standing next to a truck filled with oranges, Kevin holding an old law-book that he had borrowed for the picture and Justin in his uniform…
Tears well up in her eyes. There are so many memories here. Unfortunately not all were good ones. She can also remember Kitty and Sarah’s screaming at each other, pulling each other’s hair. She can remember Tommy, drunk, puking his guts out. She remembers the cold war between William and Kevin.. and finding Justin on the floor, drugged up.
She lets out a deep sigh.
“Goodbye, William…” She whispers. All the memories of him will stay here. Their laughter, their fighting, their love-making, their kisses. Their concerns for their children. Their pride for their children.
The new house will not have memories of him… When she leaves this house, they will only remain in her head, but next week another family will move in. They will change the wallpaper and the carpets. They will use another color of paint. The house will no longer be hers… It feels weird, but alright. It is the right moment to leave…
She closes the door behind her. All the doors are closed now. When she arrives at the top of the stairs she sees Kevin standing there with a peculiar smile on his face.
“What are you thinking of?” She asks. Kevin turns to her and then back to the wall where his father’s picture used to hang.
“Someone once asked me if dad had been the ‘unknowable king’. I told him that Dad had been just a man, and a cheater on top of that… And he looked back at me and said that you couldn’t be faithful to anything, until you know why you should….”
“Smart man.” Nora nods, fully agreeing with the words.
“Why do you think I married him…?” Kevin winks. Nora laughs and she pushes hers son further down the stairs to turn to the living-room.
“There were so many flowers when you and Scotty got married….” Nora remembers. “There was so much love between the two of you…”
“You gave us a wedding…” Kevin repeats the words that he had said then, without even really remembering that he had once said them.
“You deserved it. You and Scotty…” Nora answers quietly, still remembering the scent of the flowers, the music that had played and the delicious food that Scotty had prepared.
Kevin puts his arm around his mother’s shoulders and together they enter the kitchen.
“I’m done.” Nora says. “I think I’ve said my goodbyes.”
“I think we all have…” Justin distributes some plastic cups and Sarah fills each one halfway with red liquid. The others stare at her.
“What? It’s grape-juice! We all still need to drive and Justin isn’t allowed to drink.” She shrugs at the questioning looks. They all laugh at her comment and pick up their cups.
“To a house that was once filled with love…” Sarah lifts up her cup.
“… And beautiful memories…” Kitty adds.
“.. And some not so good ones, that we can now laugh about…” Justin smiles.
“… And those we can’t laugh about, we will forget about…” Kevin says. He can’t avoid the quick look at the study where he and his father had had their huge fight, when Kevin came out to him.
They all silently knows what he’s talking about.
“… to letting bygones be bygones…” Kevin therefore adds.
“… And to a new house, with new memories, a new future and hopefully one that will also get filled with love and happiness..” Nora finishes and they all raise their cups to drink to that.