Rex came to us the way most things do; one day we saw him through a store window and picked him up from that cute toy shop on the corner of Main and Elm. At first, he was very quiet, lying still in our plastic bag, but the moment my son got a hold of him, he took on new life.
First, it was simple things. My son would spend all morning building a miniature city from Duplo blocks, and once it was done Rex would rush in, destroying any sense of structure. All that was left was a pile of crushed blocks on the floor—the ruins of civilization. But soon the two of them were planning explorations into space, preparing the perfect launch sequence, and undergoing proper astronaut training in our pool.
Their plans became so elaborate I use to joke, “At this rate, you and Rex will have traveled more than me.”
At night my son would take Rex into his bed so the two could sleep together. “Rex will protect me, mommy,” he explained.
“From what, sweetie?”
“The dreams,” he replied.
Boys at that age are so imaginative.
I kissed him goodnight, shut off the lights and watched as he drifted off to sleep, gripping Rex in his embrace.
But the next morning when I went to wake him up, the door wouldn’t open completely. I pushed and shoved until it gave way, and at my feet I found Rex, lying on the carpet. “How did you get here?” I whispered out loud. But I wiped the thought away with a simple, “but of course, my son must have left him here during the night.”
The rest of the day was the usual. Right after breakfast, the two began to work on a major project. A project so secret they kept their plans hidden even from me. My son would stand by his easel, making comments, and asking Rex for advice. He’d lean down and put his ear to Rex’s stitched mouth. “Aha, I see!” He would exclaim and then go to the board and make some scribble before putting his dinosaur bed sheet over the whole easel set.
At dinner, I asked, “so what are you two planning over there?”
My son looked at Rex and retorted, “It’s a secret!”
That night the two slept together. My son held Rex firmly in his arms. Yet, in the morning I found Rex perched by the window. When I asked my son if he moved Rex in the middle of the night he told me, “no mommy.”
“Well, how did Rex get there, sweetie?”
My son laughed, “Silly mommy, toys don’t move.”
For the rest of the day, I watched Rex from the corner of my eye. He was mocking me with his cold plastic black eyes. At night somehow he was moving, making his escape, getting closer to leaving this house. His cold stare told me everything; he was beyond these walls, beyond me.
I told my husband about Rex and our son. He told me I was crazy, “a bored housewife who needed to stop daydreaming.”
To prove I wasn’t delusional, that I wasn’t imagining things, I set up a trap. I put my son to sleep. In the darkness, I hid in his room, among the toys above his wooden toy chest. An hour or two passed. Impatient, I crawled into the toy chest. Inside the cramped dark rectangular box, I waited to catch Rex in the act, to see the toy making his way out of this house. After 10 minutes I opened the chest to see if Rex had moved. Nothing. Again I checked. Nothing. And Again. But each time Rex was in the same place. “What if I’m wrong?” I began to wonder. My head filled with doubt. Had my suspicions been nothing more than bored fantasies? My head whirled with thoughts and images, but soon I found myself drifting to sleep, even amongst my madness.
“What!” I woke myself up, forgetting for a second where I was. ‘I’m in my son’s toy chest,’ I realized. ‘Perhaps I was thinking about all this too much.’ Resigned to give up, I tried to open the toy chest. The top wouldn’t move. Again I tried to push it open using all my strength, but it was no use, it appeared to be locked from the outside.
“Help, somebody! Help me!” I screamed from inside. At first there was only silence, but then childish laughter, my son’s laughter.
“Rex says to behave mommy.”