By the time the both of you arrived home from the meeting, it was already late. Since both you and Matthew were exhausted, you decided to tell him everything the following day.
That night, you lied in your bed, wide awake, staring up at the ceiling with several thoughts running through your mind. How on earth were you going to explain to Matthew that he was a country without him becoming scared, frightened, worried, or some other emotion you didn't want him to feel? What if he felt that being a country meant he had to go off on his own, start his own life, live independently like a real country? That was the very last thing you wanted him to do. Just because Matthew was a country didn't mean he had to go off and live on his own, right…?
The next morning, closer to noon, you walked down the hall and paused in front of the door to Matthew's room. He had told you before that he was going to feed Mr. Kumajiro, so that was what you figured he was doing.
You fidgeted in place, fiddling with your fingers and staring down at the ground. You felt so nervous telling Matthew something about himself that he had never known before, but you hoped that he wouldn't have overreacted.
You took a deep breath before you extended a shaky hand and grasped the doorknob. You turned it slowly before you gently pushed open the door, revealing Matthew sitting on his bed with Kumajiro, feeding him his second can of tuna.
When Matthew noticed you standing in the doorway, he looked up from the polar bear to look at you. "Hi, Mom," he said to you, his voice calm and casual. He frowned after a few seconds of silence. "Did you need something?"
You sighed before you dropped your hands down to your sides and lifted your gaze to meet Matthew's. You could've sworn you heard your heart pounding rapidly in your chest. "H-Hello, Mattie," you said shakily before you lifted your hand to your mouth and cleared your throat. "I…I need to talk with you about something…important."
Matthew tilted his head to one side in confusion before he blinked at you slowly. "Uh…okay," he said after a few moments of silence before he scooted forward in his bed so that he was sitting on the edge, Mr. Kumajiro in his arms.
You took slow, careful steps forward until you were in front of Matthew's bed. With one hand, you gripped the rim of the bed and carefully sat down. You turned your head to the size so that you were gazing down at Matthew, who was looking at Kumajiro as he continued feeding him tuna. Once Matthew noticed you staring at him, he lifted his gaze from Kumajiro and looked up at you, confusion instantly clouding his gaze.
"What do you want to talk with me about, Mom?" Matthew asked as he continued looking at you while feeding the polar bear.
You sighed before you drew your gaze away from him and looked down at your hands, which were rested on your lap. "Matthew, you may or may not be aware of this, but there are certain people in the world who represent countries."
Matthew blinked as he continued to look at you, the confusion in his gaze becoming more prominent. "What do you mean?"
You once again lifted your gaze from your hands to look at him, a hint of sadness detectable in your eyes. "I've told you about personification in stories before, right?" When Matthew nodded slowly, you continued. "Well, in the real world, there are people who personify countries. There is a person who personifies the country of England, there's a person who personifies the country of France, and so on. Do you understand so far?"
Matthew slowly set his gaze down on Mr. Kumajiro, who by now had finished eating and was looking up at you, and nodded. "I-I think so…."
"Okay," you said before you continued. "Well, these people who represent countries have a lot of traits that are different from regular people. But before I say what they are, I have to ask you a question."
Matthew lifted his gaze from Mr. Kumajiro and looked up at you expectantly. "Yes?"
You sighed as you stared into his unaware violet eyes. "Tell me, Matthew. Have you ever questioned your unusual growth rate?"
Matthew paused for a moment as he tapped his finger against his chin in thought as he stared down at Mr. Kumajiro. A few more moments of silence passed before he lifted his gaze to look at you. "Well, sometimes I do. I mean, I know that everybody grows slowly all the time, but I keep thinking why I stayed exactly the same for over a year and then change all of a sudden overnight. It just…doesn't seem right." Another moment of silence passed before he tilted his head to one side and slightly tightened his grip on Kumajiro. "W-Why do you ask?"
Your gaze filled with uneasiness as you drifted it off to the wall, suddenly losing the confidence to stare into Matthew's eyes anymore. "Because your unusual growth rate made me think about the traits of a country. A person who represents a country also has a very choppy growth. Most often, when they are still small, they often stay the same way in terms of appearance for a fairly long time. Then, all of a sudden, they grow up by five, ten, even fifteen years appearance-wise in just under twenty-four hours, usually throughout the course of one night."
Matthew continued to look up at you for a few more moments. The confusion that was in his gaze ever since you first stood at the entrance to his room was instantly replaced with shock, and his eyes widened and his mouth hung slightly open. "M-Mom, you don't think that I'm a…—" He was cut off from his sentence when he found that he had lost the ability to speak.
You slowly drew your gaze away from the wall and looked at him, your eyes filled with sadness. "What? I don't think that you're a what, Matthew?"
"A…c-country…?" he finished, his voice barely more than a whisper. You continued to stare at him sadly, and once you were able to see tears on the edges of his eyes, you smiled before you lifted a finger to his face and gently wiped them away.
"Yes, Mattie. I'm afraid so," you murmured, your voice slightly trembling.
Matthew pulled away from your gentle touch and looked up at you, and when you met his gaze, you were able to feel your throat tighten when you noticed a slight hint of anger in his eyes. "Why didn't you tell me this before?" he demanded, his voice hushed but harsh.
You felt that you had suddenly lost the ability to speak. You had never seen Matthew like this, and it troubled you. You sighed before you looked down at your hands, still placed gently on your lap. "I didn't think you would've understood. Also, I didn't think you were ready to know about such a big responsibility like this. Being a country is vital, and I didn't want you to take on something that is this difficult."
Another moment of silence passed before the anger quickly faded from Matthew's eyes and was instead replaced by distress. "Mom, are you a country, too?"
You sighed again before you lifted your head to meet his gaze and nodded. "I am. And so are the people that attend the meetings we go to. Those conferences are for countries."
Matthew nodded slowly before he dropped his gaze down to Mr. Kumajiro, who was still looking up at you with those same, black beady eyes. "Th-This doesn't mean that I have to go out and live on my own, does it?"
"Of course not, Matthew," you said quickly, putting a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "Just because you're a country doesn't mean you have to become independent. You're still too young to go off and live on your own…"
"But you said that a person who's a country has an important responsibility!" Matthew retorted as he lifted his gaze to look up at you. "If it's such a big responsibility, how am I going to face it with the help of someone else? If I'm meant to be a country, I can't let anyone else get in the way, right?"
"Wrong," you objected. "Mattie, you're still too young to go off on your own. Being a country doesn't mean you have to become independent. Besides, just because you age like a country doesn't mean you have to represent one. It's your decision whether or not to choose to personify a piece of land. You can still be like an ordinary person. The only thing that would be different is the way you age. That's all."
Matthew sighed before he pulled away from you and looked down at Kumajiro. "I…I don't know. I need some time to think about this, Mom. Could you please leave?"
"L-Leave?" you echoed as you stared at him. "Are you sure? Because I can help you with anythi—"
"I said leave," Matthew said a little more loudly as he stared deep into your eyes. You reached the conclusion that he was starting to get angry, so you only sighed in defeat.
"Fine, Matthew," you said before you stood up from his bed and walked out of the room, closing the door behind you.
When you entered your bedroom, you fiercely slammed the door shut, plopped down onto your bed with your face buried in your pillow, and began a loud swearing fit at England.