Andrew closes the door as Ruth and David walk down the driveway towards their car.
I turn to Payton. She is kneeling on the floor, examining the videos I pulled out earlier. She doesn’t ask to see her parents off at the window. “Payton, come wave goodbye to Mom and Dad,” I urge, gesturing to the window. She climbs onto the couch and waves to the car driving away.
“I’m going to get the kids,” Andrew says, jangling his keys. “I’ll meet you at the restaurant in an hour.”
I put on a video at Payton’s request but after a few minutes, she gets up and explores the house. She pops into Paige’s room and I tell her, “This is your room, too. You can play with anything in here.” Payton sizes up Paige’s toys and chooses a shape sorter.
With her occupied, I put the garbage bags David dropped on the floor into Paige’s room. It isn’t just Paige’s room anymore, I reprimand myself. Too exhausted from the day’s drama, I decide to dig through the bags and take inventory of what she has tomorrow.
I pack up a diaper bag and tell Payton it’s time to leave. She is bent over with her back to me, and she doesn’t answer. I approach her and peer over her shoulder. She is looking through a small book of family pictures. “Who’s that?” I ask.
She flips the page. The next picture is of Ruth and David. She doesn’t say anything. “Who’s that?”
“Daddy,” she says. I wait for her to add mommy but she remains silent.
“Time to go,” I tell her when it becomes apparent that she isn’t going to say anything else. She silently follows me outside and climbs into her car seat, which David left on our doorstep and Andrew installed before leaving.
“We’re going to meet Andrew, Eli and Paige for dinner,” I explain as we pull out of the driveway.
Payton talks to herself in hushed tones while I drive. “Mommy said I’m going to stay with Paige and Lynn for a while.”
“Are you sad about that?” In light of the picture she discovered in Paige’s book, I’m curious.
“No,” she answers flatly. Her answer is abrupt and I wonder if she understands my question. I glance at her in the rear-view mirror. She is looking out the window with wide eyes, lost in her own thoughts. We’re both silent during the rest of the drive.