The teddy bear spent three years between yellow walls and among soft, hypoallergenic companions, and then he decided to leave.
Little Lisa had a habit of climbing the red chair and playing with the clicking thermostat dial. A great mass of heat would spread through the house, pushing Father to the brink of his boiling point. He’d storm around propping open all of the windows with encyclopedias from the dusty set on the bookshelf, his brow dripping and his great loping body steaming up windows as he worked.
Teddy’s escape was as simple as tucking in his stuffed belly and slipping past “Cloisonné to Czar.” His reason for departure was much more complex; it had something to do with utter despair. Not personal utter despair, but the feeling that there was more to life than yellow walls and soft things, and that perhaps it was darker and much more beautiful.
Teddy toddled down an alley and across a busy street. The sun was out of commission, a pale plate in a glutinous mass of storm clouds. On the other side of the road and up a muddy path was a graveyard.
The graves Teddy passed were worn, but not in the way his former roommates had been. The toys’ dismantlement was a violent ritual fueled by the primal love of a wild thing. These gray slates sat with their solemn faces to the wind and rain, their engravings melting away grain by grain.
This was how he’d like to go, buried under one of these stoic markers like a human being. No more needles patching him up or donation boxes carrying him to yet another owner. He would not die thread by thread, slowly relinquishing bits of fluff to his grubby-fingered masters. He sat down in a patch of ivy and waited for its fingers to creep up and pull him under.
After a while, it started hailing. This is when Teddy longed for the yellow room, but he knew he could never go back. The beauty of a nearby stone with mottled moss veins and shattered skin told him so. He may not have seen utter despair, but he’d glimpsed a deep, mysterious sadness that was much more honest than anything he’d experienced in his life as a coveted possession.
When a teddy bear gets damp, his limbs start to swell until he can hardly move. Here, so far away from Lisa’s dryer, Teddy would probably be immobilized for days. That’s when he looked down the slope and saw a patch of scraggly white fur.
Teddy rolled his swiftly ballooning body down the hill and landed next to the little stuffed puppy dog. The puppy was fast asleep, but Teddy felt a little safer just being close to something soft again. He got up and tugged his snoozing friend under a nearby bench.
And so Teddy sat, watching the rain fall and the sky darken. The sun poked through right at the very end of the day. Its orange glow matched a frail bunch of plastic flowers huddled by McKenney’s grave.
Teddy briefly wondered where he might go next. Then he dozed off.
BONUS: I’ve been PUBLISHING things lately, including a poem that gave this post its title. Check it out on the My Work page!
*WEIRDEST UPDATE EVER: Check out my Talkback page for MONSTER TEDDY, a gothic rapper and a stranger-than-fiction story.