The day the world gets 'round
to understanding where it is,
Using all it's found,
to help each other,
hand in hand...
25th February 1972
The room is exactly as they left it a few hours ago, but George feels like he hasn't stepped inside here - Hannah's photo room - for a lot longer. With Bobbie in his arms, he crosses the threshold again. The room faces the east. The sun has moved over to the other side of the house, but it's still light and airy. George thinks of his mother's front room in that tiny terrace house in Wavertree. He was only six when they left that house, so his memories of it are vague, but he remembers that room. The "room for best", the living room at the front of the house, facing the street and where no one was allowed to tread. Hannah had told him her family had a similar prohibited room and they'd agreed to never have places where no one could go in their home. Through circumstances rather than design, this room has become that. George is determined to reverse it.
'That's you when you were born,' he tells Bobbie, tapping a small, square polaroid photo of Hannah in her hospital bed. She holds the baby in her arms, wrapped in a blue blanket. Bobbie is a couple of days old. Poor Hannah still looks exhausted, but she's smiling as George took the picture.
That is the smallest picture on the wall. It's crowded by a lot of other photos now, in mismatched and often mis-sized frames.
'And that's Mummy when she was a little girl like you,' George says, pointing to the photo of Hannah and Minnie as children. 'And here's Mummy and Daddy in Germany a long time ago.'
Bobbie stretches her hand out and drags her fingers over the glass of the photo frame. George isn't sure if she's old enough to recognise people in photographs. He hopes so, otherwise what Hannah looks like will fade from Bobbie's memory. He was six when they left Arnold Grove and he has only fragments of memories of it. Bobbie is three, and although she does still ask George when Hannah is coming back, this has become more like part of a routine than a genuine enquiry. If Hannah never comes back, Bobbie won't have any memories of her except the photos in this room.
'There's Mummy singing with Auntie Minnie. That's at Shea Stadium in New York. Do you remember going to New York? Do you... remember Auntie Minnie?'
Bobbie doesn't answer. She turns away from the photos, uninterested in them and puts her head on George's shoulder.
'Are you tired, love?' he asks.
She shakes her head but as George pulls his neck back to look at her, Bobbie's eyes are drooping. He takes her over to the armchair and sits, then slumps down, still holding her. He should really take her to her bedroom but he doesn't feel like he wants to let her go yet.
Hannah's two diaries are balanced on the arm of the chair. George reaches for them, taking the top book, 1960, and tries to open it with one hand as he holds Bobbie in his other arm.
'See this, Bobs? This was Mummy's diary when she was younger. When we lived in Liverpool. Never really been to Liverpool, have you? We'll go one day.'
Bobbie doesn't respond. She lays her head on his chest and sighs, blinking her eyes.
'It's naughty to read other people's diaries,' George tells her, resting the book on his knee and turning the pages even as he's saying it. 'But I don't think Mummy will mind if we have a peek.'
Friday 1st July, 1960
H.I.J + G.H
G.H 4 H.I.J 💘
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