Your eyes widened in shock as you let out a gasp, not even bothering to cover your mouth. Your fingers tightly gripped the sheets of the bed, almost as if you let go, you were going to fall off. You continued to stare at the sleeping boy in front of you, eyes wide in disbelief and heartbeat rapid. This…was just impossible. There was just no way that the sleeping 10 year old in your bed was the same baby that you were able to cradle in your arms less than a day ago. But once you noticed the boy's familiar wavy blond hair, and that loopy strand of hair that stood out from the rest, you knew that this kid really was Matthew.
You sucked in a deep, shaky breath as you slowly scooted back, careful not to fall off the bed. What were you supposed to do now? Taking care of a baby seemed many times easier than taking care of a fully grown child. But there was just no way you were going to kick Matthew out of your house just because he had grown so much overnight. He was still the same, adorable little baby who you rescued from the woods. He was just a little grown up, that's all.
You felt your heart rate increase even more when Matthew let out a yawn and slowly opened his eyes. He removed his arms from Mr. Kumajiro and sat up in bed, taking in his surroundings before turning his head to gaze at you. "Good morning, Mom," he said quietly before he covered his mouth and let out another yawn.
"G-Good morning, Mattie…" you stammered, suddenly lost for words. What happened to calling me Mama…? Great. Even Matthew's adorable baby voice changed to that of an actual 10 year old. Even though it was just as soft and hushed as it was when he was still small, it was no longer as cute. Well, it seemed like your heart wasn't going to be melting as much as it was before.
"Mom…why does my voice sound different?" Matthew asked as he looked at you in confusion, not even bothering to be aware of how the rest of his body changed.
You let out a nervous chuckle before you drifted your gaze to the wall and rubbed the back of your neck with your hand. "Um…well, you see, Mattie, you've kind of…grown up, a little."
"G-Grown up…?" Matthew echoed before he looked down at himself. As soon as he took in how he looked, his eyes widened, and he looked up at you in panic. "Mom…what happened to me?" he asked, his voice filled with surprise and confusion.
"Um…I'm not sure, really…" you replied softly as you looked down at the sheets. You never expected Matthew to grow this quickly when his growth seemed so slow, so you were basically just as confused as he was.
You looked back up at Matthew, and when you saw the fear in his eyes, you crawled over to him and patted his head. "It's okay, Mattie," you assured soothingly. "Many of us grow up like this, and it's totally normal…."
"R-Really?" Matthew asked as he looked up at you with hopeful eyes.
"Of course," you said before you removed your hand from his head and let it drop back down to your side.
You felt the covers shift next to you, and you turned your head to the side just in time to see Mr. Kumajiro lazily sit up in bed and yawn before he started washing his face.
"Uh…g-good morning, Mr. Kumajiro," you said softly to the bear, still a little dazed from everything that happened in the past two minutes.
In response, he removed his paw from his face and looked at you with black, beady eyes. "Good morning, _____," he said to you simply. He rested his paw back down on the bed before he shifted his gaze over to Matthew, who was staring back at him expectantly. "Who are you?" Mr. Kumajiro asked before slowly crawled over to the boy and paused a few inches away from him.
Matthew sighed before he lifted Mr. Kumajiro from the bed and wrapped his arms around him. "Mom, he still doesn't recognize me…" he said to you, a hint of sadness in his voice.
You gave him a tiny smile before you gently patted his shoulder. "It's okay, Mattie," you said to him as he looked down at Mr. Kumajiro longingly. "The reason he still might not know who you are is because you changed so suddenly. I'm sure he'll know sooner or later…."
"But he's been alive for a year!" Matthew said hopelessly. "He was able to recognize you right away, so why isn't he able to recognize me?"
"Well, maybe if you tried telling him who you actually were every time he asked you, he would've remembered," you suggested quietly, trying hard not to upset Matthew.
A few seconds of silence passed as Matthew gently tightened his hold on Mr. Kumajiro, who was attentively washing his paw. "Okay, Mom," he finally said to you as he looked down at the polar bear and gently stroked his fur.
You smiled. "Now that we have that cleared, the next issue is your clothes."
Matthew looked up at you in confusion before his gaze slowly dropped so that he was able to stare right at whatever was left of the clothes that he was wearing. Once he was aware of how much they had ripped, a blush quickly made its way to his face. "Oh…Mom, I-I—"
His reaction made you let out a tiny giggle. "It's okay, Mattie. I'll go out and get you some new clothes today."
Matthew looked up at you, a flustered expression on his face. "I…won't have to go with you, would I?"
You smiled before you brushed hair away from his face and gently kissed his forehead. "Of course not. I'll prepare breakfast for you and Kumajiro so the both of you won't be hungry while I'm gone."
"I…I think I can feed the both of us on my own, Mom," Matthew said shyly, and you looked down at him in surprise.
"R-Really?" you asked softly. "I mean…just yesterday you were hardly able to hold a pan…."
"I think I'll be fine, Mom," he said to you quietly, and when you stared into his violet eyes, you noticed that they were filled with confidence.
You let out an exhausted sigh before you gave Matthew a warm smile. "Okay, Mattie. If you really feel that way, I guess I can allow you to make breakfast for you and Mr. Kumajiro."
"Thanks, Mom," Matthew said before he climbed out of bed, leaving Kumajiro behind, and proceeded out the door and towards the bathroom.
You sighed as you watched him leave. After a few more seconds passed with silence hanging in the room, you shifted your gaze down to Mr. Kumajiro, who had resumed washing his fur once Matthew had let go of him.
Briefly, the polar bear removed his paw from whatever part of his body he was washing to look up at you and tilted his head to one side. "Kids grow up so fast," he said simply before he resumed washing himself.
Literally, you silently added.
As you walked down the few blocks needed to get to the nearest children's clothing store, the same store that you went to when you bought Matthew's baby clothes, your head was swarming with thoughts. Throughout the duration of only a few hours, you had already noticed how dramatically Matthew changed. It wasn't just through appearance, but behavior as well. He was now able to do several things on his own that you always had to assist him in as a baby, such as brushing his teeth, taking a shower, and preparing his own food.
In fact, it seemed like he was able to do enough things that he was able to manage living on his own just fine.
As soon as that thought hit you, you let out a gasp before you covered your mouth with your hand. Was Matthew really going to go off and live on his own when he would've been fully grown? Just thinking about that happening scared you and made your heart increase its pace in worry.
You suddenly remembered the promise you made when you had first brought Matthew home after you found him in the woods. I'll always be here to take care of you. Would that still be true if Matthew suddenly went off to live on his own? Of course not. You had to keep your promise, and keep Matthew safe under your care for as long as possible.
You returned home with several different outfits, most of which you felt seemed large enough to properly fit Matthew. You hoped that he would've stayed the same way he was now for the next year or so, so you wouldn't have had to constantly shop to buy him new clothes.
After Matthew had tried on all the clothes, you were relieved to find that you didn't have to return any because they were either too big or too small. Instead, you sat on your bed, watching as Matthew put his clothes into a neat stack on your dresser.
"Hey, Matthew…" you began slowly, suddenly finding yourself fiddling with your hands.
Matthew turned around to look at you, frowning in confusion. "Yes, Mom?" he asked quietly before he slowly approached your bed and sat down beside you.
You sighed as you stared down at your hands, wondering how on earth you were going to ask the question that was in your mind ever since you walked to the clothing store. You looked up at Matthew and found his violet eyes staring deeply into yours.
"Matthew, are you ever…going to go off and live on your own once you grow up?" you asked, trying hard not to let your voice crack. The thought of losing Matthew was just too much for you to bear. Even just thinking about the fact that he might've gone off to live on his own made your throat close.
Matthew blinked as he continued to stare at you, his serious gaze filling with confusion. "Why do you ask, Mom?"
You sighed again before you drifted your gaze off to the wall. "I just thought that…ever since you've grown up overnight, you've been able to do a lot of things that you weren't able to do without my help just a few days ago. For the past few hours, I've been thinking about what would've happened if you would've grown up completely, and was able to manage living on your own."
A long silence stretched between the both of you, and you forced your gaze to turn to the side so that it was able to meet Matthew's.
He continued to stare at you with that same befuddled look, so you continued. "Because the truth is, well…I don't know what I would do if you left me. You've been a big part of my life ever since I found you, and you have done so many things that made my life easier. I can't imagine what would've happened if you didn't want to live with me anymore."
Matthew nodded slowly as a look of understanding crossed his face. He looked down at his hands before he lifted his gaze to meet yours and let out a tiny smile. "I would never leave you, Mom," he murmured before he leaned forward, wrapping his arms around you and resting his chin on your shoulder. "I promise that even when I'll be grown up, I'll still live with you."
"R-Really?" you asked, your voice high-pitched with disbelief.
Matthew let out a tiny laugh. "Of course," he replied.
You smiled before you wrapped his arms around him and pulled him away from you just enough so that you were able to kiss his forehead. "I'm glad you think that way. Thank you, Mattie."
At that instant, relief filled your body. Matthew was never going to leave you, no matter what. As long as he was still a part of your life, you would've been fine.