Children Fiction posted November 20, 2014


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After hours at the Toy Store

Ordinary Bear - A Christmas Story

by Fridayauthor


       Ordinary Bear
      
            He had slept so soundly all the miles and months from the factory that he hadn’t even awoken when he was carefully unpacked and placed on the toy department shelf, next to Monty, the musical clown. In fact, he might have slept right through Christmas if it hadn’t been for all the noise the other toys made as soon as the last customer left the store for the night.
       
            For even though some might not believe it, toys can make an awful ruckus when there’s nobody about to hear them. First Monty began playing a tune on his little drum and the others chimed in until the little stuffed bear popped open his eyes and stared about in wonder.
      
            “Where have you been?” gruffed  a voice from below. “We’ve been here since August. That’s when the Christmas season begins. Now it’s only a few days away.”
      
            “I . . .I don’t know,” stammered the bear. “I guess I’ve been packed away. Where am I? Is this a toy store?”
      
            “Certainly,” said a voice which upon investigation belonged to a large penguin. “You’re a toy, aren’t you?”
      
            “Yes, sir,” he answered. “But where are the trains? My Grandfather said there’d be trains . . . and dolls . . . and lots of other stuffed bears.”
      
            “Trains are out,” said the owl who at $129.95 knew just about everything.
      
            “For that matter, so is nearly everything that doesn’t have a computer. I’m Captain Orbit from the Space Station.” The toy who was doing the talking reached up and shook the bear's paw.
      
            “Pleased to meet you,” he said. “What kind of computer do you have?”
      
            “Computer?” asked the bear. “I don’t think I know what that means.”
      
            They all gathered around the young bear and looked at him quizzically. Even the clown stopped playing his drum.
      
            “We’re all equipped with tiny computers that let us do all kinds of things,” said Buffy, the anatomically correct young-lady doll. Bif, her boyfriend, nodded his head in agreement.
      
            “Computers. The word is computers, Bear. What do you know about computers?” asked the owl, who looked particularly important.
      
            “Me?” stuttered the Bear. “Why, nothing, Sir. I’m just a bear.”
      
            “A very ordinary bear, by the looks of things,” piped the proud Penguin, who strutted about, flashing his label that announced his seventy-five word vocabulary of useful information of the Arctic.
      
            “Yes,” echoed the others. “A very ordinary bear indeed."
       
            “I . . .I can be hugged,” offered the ordinary bear.
      
            “Hugged? Who wants to be hugged?” asked the clown.
      
            “Heavens!” cried Buffy, “I wouldn’t want anyone squeezing my anatomically correct parts!”
      
            “They’d break our tape recorders,” added the penguin. “It would mess up all our circuitry. Hugging is definitely a no-no.”
       
            “But what about pretending?” asked the bear.
      
            “Boo!” they answered in unison. “Boo to pretending! Who needs it? We can do everything . . . no one has a need to pretend. Pretending is out.”
      
            Baby-Bawl said, “I can do everything a real baby does.” And she began to cry.
      
            “Ask me to spell any word,” chided Spell Master, “Any word in the English language. And I can fit in a child’s pocket, I’m so small.”
      
            “Spell ‘cheat,’” said the owl who was something of a moralist.
      
            Ordinary Bear was very confused indeed. If children no longer wanted to pretend, he’d be as useless as a sleigh in July. “Does everyone here do something?” he asked. “Does everyone have a computer?”
      
            “I don’t do anything,” said a sweet voice from behind Captain Orbit’s space station. “I just look gorgeous.”
      
            Studs McWar whistled as the most beautiful doll Ordinary Bear’s button eyes had ever beheld stepped around a stack of machine guns and came into view.
      
            “Beautiful, aren’t I?” she asked. “I have 100% porcelain arms and legs and my perfect face is hand-painted in Germany. And this,” she said, stroking her hair, “comes from real humans.”
      
            “Any little girl would love to have you as a toy on Christmas morning,” said Ordinary Bear in wonderment.
      
            “Oh, no!” cried the beautiful doll. “I’m not for girls! I’m for doll cases and museums . . . I cost hundreds of dollars. I’m just here with you toys because little girls think they can have me. But what child would possibly choose you? You’re such an ordinary bear.”
      
            All at once, Ordinary Bear was glad he wasn’t like Baby-Bawl, for surely tears would have stained his fluffy new cinnamon fur.
      
            “They’re going to wrap you up and send you back where you came from,” said Studs McWar, and they all began to laugh. Even thoughtless toys can be very cruel.
       
            Suddenly, Ordinary Bear was grabbed from behind, stuffed in a box and covered with a tissue paper blanket. At first he was very frightened, but at last the sound of laughter from the other toys gradually faded further and further away.
      
            He must have slept because the crinkle of paper and the tinkle of glee woke him to a dazzle of lights, the brightest coming from the eyes of a little girl who hugged him more than any other gifts.
      
            And long after Studs McWar had fought his last battle, and Bif and Buffy weren’t speaking, and all the beepers and batteries were long dead or forgotten, Ordinary Bear was still cuddled to bed each night in loving arms.
      
            Perhaps there is something ordinary in all of us, a need to hug and be hugged, without reason or question. Love, given freely that seeks nothing in return; what better gift could there be on Christmas morning?
 


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My wife still has her World War Two era Teddy. Alas, mine is long gone.
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