February 10, 2016 Leave a comment
[[ Prompt: A story about finding something that has been lost.
I’ve always been very sentimental about my toys, so when I saw this prompt I knew I had to write about a precious old teddy bear.
The bear in the story is a 1947 white Steiff bear, he might look something like this: ]]
The first place that the bear could remember was the shop. He couldn’t remember how he had got there, but now and then he saw trucks come with other toys, so he deduced that’s the way he must have come too. There were a great many other toys in the shop, crowded close together, but the bear didn’t mind. He found it cheerful to have so many friends, except when some of them would leave. People would come into the shop and choose a toy, sometimes two, maybe even more. Then the bear would be lonely for a time, until the truck brought new friends for him. He did not know where the other toys went, but surely it must be somewhere exciting. Not that the store wasn’t nice; it was. It looked out onto a small street, and from his place in the window the bear could watch the people walking to and fro, watch the cars rumble past. Sometimes there was a person walking a dog, or sometimes a bird would perch nearby. Those were exciting. But the best was when the children would come to peer into the window, their eyes alight with excitement as they looked at the toys. The bear had bright white fur and shiny black eyes, and a red silk ribbon tied around his neck. He thought he looked very handsome, and if he only waited patiently, someone would choose him.
Then, one day a man came into the store. He looked around carefully at all the toys, and the bear could tell that he was a thoughtful person. He smiled when he saw the bear, and the bear thought his heart might burst from excitement. You will be perfect, the man said, and the bear thought his stitched smile must have grown just a little bigger. The man paid for the bear, and tucked him into his shoulder-bag. He made sure that the bear’s head poked out so he could see, and have some air. The bear thought that went to show again what a thoughtful person he was. The weather outside was warm, and the bear felt the sunshine warm his fur. How wonderful it was! And how exciting that he was going with a person at last! He didn’t know exactly what would happen, but he knew that somehow it would be something good. The bear and the man rode in a car, and then they went onto an airplane. The bear knew this because the man explained it to him. The airplane had many other men on it, all with the same clothes as the man, but none of the others had bears. The bear thought they all should have brought one. For a time the bear watched out the window, feeling amazed at the fluffy clouds rushing past, but he grew tired and fell asleep. When he awoke, he and the man were walking down the steps of the plane, onto the ground. There, a beautiful lady smiled and waved to them. The lady held a little baby, who was hardly bigger than the bear himself. The man hugged and kissed them both, and then he took the bear from his bag, and gave him to the baby. She made a happy sound and started to chew on the bear’s paw. He thought it was the most wonderful thing he had ever felt.
The bear lived in his baby’s crib most of the time; he kept watch over her while she slept. When she was awake, she liked to pick him up. Sometimes she would hug him, but other times she was a little less gentle, and sometimes she tossed him onto the floor. The bear was patient and never was cross with the baby, because he knew she didn’t know any better. The lady always came in and brushed him off, and then put him back beside his friend. At night, while the baby slept, sometimes the bear would watch the stars, and wish upon them. He wished that he could stay here with his baby, for always.
But the baby grew, as babies grew. This was a most exciting time for the bear, because he and his girl went on so many adventures. Though the girl had other toys, it was plain to see that the bear was her favorite. He rode in the pram with the dolls, and sometimes wore their clothes. The bear himself found it a bit silly, but they kept him warm, and if it made his girl happy that was all that mattered. He sat at tea parties with the dolls, always using his best manners. He suspected that the dolls thought he was coarse and rough, so he always did his best to use the right spoon and hold his paw the right way. Sometimes the girl would take him for adventures outside, and that was his favorite. Some summer nights, they would sleep in a tent in the yard, and the girl would cuddle him close as she slept. The bear was always alert for any strange sounds or wild animals, and ready to defend his girl if he needed. Sometimes the bear did get injured. Once or twice, the girl brought him to the lady because one of his seams had come open. The bear didn’t like that, because he always spent a day or two in the sewing basket, which was terribly boring and not fun at all. The stitching itself didn’t hurt, but the bear thought it was terribly undignified to have his legs sticking out like that. But afterward, it was soon forgotten and he was ready to play again.
The girl grew, and the bear started to feel a bit small next to her now. She was so tall that she had to stoop to pick him up. She still played with him, but not as much. Most of the time, he stayed on her bed, snuggled between the two pillows. He thought it a great honor to be trusted to guard the bed, but he couldn’t help miss their adventures a little. At night, she still cuddled him close, which made everything okay again. But then, one day, the bear found himself placed on the dresser. Now and then the girl would notice him and give him a pat, but it was rare. The bear wondered if his fur had grown too dirty, or if he had too many worn places. Or maybe he had another seam open that he hadn’t noticed. If only she would notice him! Then they could fix it and play together again.
That didn’t happen though. The girl grew even more, until she looked like a grown-up. Her mother came to help her pack her things to go away. The bear wished that he could cry. What would become of him? He learned the answer to that soon enough. The girl’s mother put him into a box with some other toys, the ones who lived under the bed. The bear recognized them, and felt sorry for them too, but mostly he felt sorry for himself. It wasn’t fair, he had been her favorite! The box was closed and put away in the attic. The bear didn’t know how long he stayed there, it was impossible to tell because it was always dark. Sometimes it was very hot, and that meant it was summer, but other times it was very cold, and that was winter. The bear tried to count but he wasn’t very good at counting, and he soon forgot. For a time he talked to the other toys in the box, but they soon lost hope and fell silent, and they wouldn’t answer him at all. The bear wondered how long he would stay there.
Then, quite suddenly one day, the bear felt the box being moved. It was brought down and out into the front yard. The bear saw the girl and his heart leapt with joy! Surely she would remember him and scoop him up and cuddle him, just like she used to. But that didn’t happen. The girl wrote on the box and then went to the next. The bear felt his stitched mouth droop sadly. A lot of people came to look in the boxes. Some of them picked him up, but they were rough, not like the girl. Then a lady with very long hair paused to look at him. The bear had a nice feeling about her. She picked him up and gave the girl money for him. She didn’t even say goodbye.
For the second time, the bear got to ride in a car. They drove through forests and over a bridge, and up and down hills. His new house was smooshed in between two other houses. The bear thought it looked uncomfortable, but it was all right once you got inside. There was a girl there, too, and the bear felt cautiously hopeful. For a time things were good, almost like the old days. The bear sat on the new girl’s bed among her dolls, and some other animals. Most were bright and new, their fur soft and fluffy, not old and thin like his. They never said anything to him about it, but the bear felt ashamed of his appearance all the same. The girl liked to listen to records a lot, which the bear enjoyed a great deal. Sometimes the girl would pick him up and dance with him. That was his favorite. It was during one of these dances that he tore a seam, and the bear knew what would come next. Except this mother didn’t have a sewing basket, so he just went away again, into another box in another attic. The bear felt it was unfair to punish him so for something he couldn’t control. He was old and his seams weren’t as good as they once were. He’d had a great many adventures, and sometimes you get injured on adventures. He didn’t even have any other toys to talk to, only some clothes. They were comfortable, but not very talkative. The bear lost all hope. Who would ever want him now, with his thin fur and his open seam? Even his lovely ribbon had frayed and fallen off years ago.
When the bear’s box opened again, he was at a shop. The bear was amazed to see that there were other bears there, a whole shelf of them. Most of them were old too. This cheered him, perhaps there was hope after all. The store had a great many dolls as well, and though the bear thought dolls were usually too haughty, some of them looked friendly. The man at the shop was old, but he treated the bear very kindly. He first gave the bear a bath with a cloth, scrubbing out his dirt. Then he sewed up the seam with good strong thread, and he even gave the bear a new ribbon. The bear felt as good as new, and ready for his girl to come back for him. She was surely a grown-up now, but almost everyone who came into the shop was a grown-up. The bear thought that a little strange, because it was a shop full of dolls and bears. He enjoyed talking to them, because they all had stories about their child, but all of them ended similarly to the bear’s. It made him feel sad after a while, wondering if he would ever see her again.
He stayed at that shop for a long time. Some of the others went, while others came, but not as often as they had at the first shop. One day a lady came and looked him over carefully, and she took him home. The shop keeper wrapped him carefully in crinkly paper, which the bear thought was great fun. When they arrived home, the lady took him to a cabinet which was full of other old bears. It had glass, so he could not get down and go anywhere, which the bear thought was a little boring. Like the dolls and bears in the shop though, they were all interesting to talk to, and they all had stories to tell. One of the bears was impressed by him, saying that he was from a far-away place and probably worth a lot of money. The bear didn’t know if that was true or not. He wasn’t sure how many money anyone had paid for him. He would have rather had his girl back, anyway. The cabinet was nice, but it was so quiet and there was no one to play with. Most of all, the bear missed being cuddled at night while his girl slept.
Some years later, the lady’s son came to take all of the bears out of the cabinet. They took everything out of the house, all the furniture and clothes and everything. They were being sold, said one of the other bears, at an auction. The bear didn’t know what that was, but one little old man bought all of the cabinet bears all together. They were put into boxes, which the bear hated by now. If he never saw another box again, he would be happy. They were driven to another shop, this one with all sorts of old things in it. The old man arranged the bears on a shelf in the shop. They were near a shelf with glass dishes and bowls, all in bright colors. The bear thought they were very beautiful, and would be perfect for a tea party. People came to the shop often, though not many stopped by the bears’ shelf. They bought other old toys sometimes, or records, or tools. The bear didn’t know what all of them were. He could feel the dust settling into his fur, making his eyes cloudy. Surely no one would want him looking like this!
One day a girl came, with her grandmother. Look, Grandma Helen, said the girl. She walked over to the bear and picked him up carefully. He had a little paper tag tied around his wrist. Doesn’t this look just like your old bear? She handed the bear to the old lady, and as soon as she held him, the bear knew.
I don’t believe it, said the grandmother, her fingers touching the bear’s nose, his ears, the ribbon on his neck. It’s my Snowy.