Cub in the Window

January 31, 2008
By Cody Gracyalny, Appleton, WI

In a small town in northern Wisconsin there lived a young cub named Charlie. He was a very shy, timid and lonely cub who was much in need of a friend.

Making friends was a very hard part in Charlie’s life because of how insecure he felt about himself. He was a very tiny bear with droopy blue eyes, little paws and legs and a shaggy brown coat of fur.

His parents both worked in a big company and were rarely home to give him little or any attention he needed. His father worked as the president for Charmin, sitting in his office with his feet up high, barely ever doing any work. One floor below him was his wife. She worked as his full-time secretary scheduling all of his appointments and conferences.

Being the shy bear Charlie was, he was afraid to go out and meet other cubs. He would always see the other cubs running around and having a good time but was far too nervous to go out and join them.

Each and every day when Charlie returned home from school he would quickly complete his homework, eat an apple, and then go directly to “his” window.

He would sit at his window for hours on end just watching and admiring, hoping someday he would be able to be just like the rest of the cubs. They would be playing a game of soccer or even just a simple game of tag but Charlie wondered if he ever would have anyone to play with and have some fun.

Some afternoons when he had nothing to do and was sick of sitting by his window, he would either catch an episode of Bear in the Big Blue House or shoot some hoops by himself. It was entertaining for Charlie for a little while but it got old very quickly when he was all by himself, not a soul in sight.

When his mother was at home after he returned from school, she would constantly say,” Go outside and meet some of the other cubs in the neighborhood.” But, this idea was shot down quickly with a swift shrug of his shoulders and an “I don’t know,” always ending the conversation.

Charlie knew his mom told him this day after day, but he never answered her in return. He was aware that sadness and helplessness constantly overwhelmed his mother, knowing she could do nothing but hope someday friends would come about. His mom’s heart was always as heavy as a rock watching her lonely, little cub in the window.

One afternoon when Charlie had just returned home from school, he sat down to do his homework and heard a little rumble and pounding come from the door. Of course, Charlie wasn’t used to a knock at the door so he yelled for his mother to answer it. His mother being the kind bear she was, quickly got up and opened the door, being surprised to see three little cubs standing on the front step.
She said to them, “Hello, are you boys selling candy for a fundraiser?”
“No ma’am, we actually were wondering if your son Charlie could come outside and play football with us?” replied the cubs.
“Really? I will go get him for you” she said happily.
“Thank you” the cubs said in unison.
His mother rushed back into the house and over to the kitchen table, overwhelmed with excitement. “Charlie” she said, “Three young boys are here from down the street and want you to play with them.”

Charlie was overjoyed knowing that someone actually wanted to spend time with him but was very unsure of what to say. In some ways he was excited but there was always that sense of nervousness deep down inside of him.

He got up from the stool, legs trembling, arms twitching, and started to approach the door. Millions of thoughts started racing through his head of what he was going to say. There was something telling him that he needed to break out of his shell and go for it but then there was a little tingle inside telling him that he couldn’t do it.

Charlie arrived at the door on the edge of panic. He swung it open and there he faced the three cubs he had looked up to for years. After about five seconds of standing there staring them straight in the eyes he was finally able to mumble a word. “H-h-hello” Charlie said.
“Hello, would you like to come out and play football with us?” the littlest bear stated.
At this point so many emotions were scrambling through his head like popcorn kernels in a popper, that he was speechless. What could he say, what was he going to do?
“Ummm…I think I have too much homework tonight, maybe a different night would work out better” Charlie sputtered.
“Okay, we’ll come back a different time” the cub said and began to walk away.

Immediately after they walked away, Charlie slammed the door with fear and returned to doing his homework. He thought about the decision he had just made and wasn’t sure if he made the right choice, but it was too late to change his mind.

While sitting at the table working on his homework, his mother came up to him and said, “Charlie, why didn’t you go out and play with the other cubs?”
Charlie responded, “I don’t know mom, I just am too busy and don’t know them very well, I’ll go out a different day.”
“That’s fine Charlie, I just thought that was a good opportunity for you to make some new friends.”

Many days had come and gone and Charlie still continued in his daily routine. He would come home, complete his schoolwork, get an apple and sit by his window watching the other cubs outside. By this time, Charlie was getting frustrated not having any friends. Finally he built up enough nerve to face his fear of the other cubs and decided to go out and play a game with them.

Charlie knew it sounded easy making friends, and this time he actually was determined to make an attempt. He needed to gradually become one of the cubs he admired and slowly become part of the group.

When Charlie returned home from school, for the first time in his life he was ready to try to make friends. Today he didn’t follow his normal routine but instead dropped his book bag off at home and headed out into the forest.

He sat below the tall oak tree and could see the multicolored leaves drifting down from the skyline above like feathers off a large bird. He peered through the bushes watching the cubs kick the soccer ball around trying to score goals between the trees. He wanted more than anything in the world to go up to them and simply ask to join, but that was far too hard for Charlie.

After about an hour Charlie seemed to have not even moved an inch, just sat under the tree observing what was going on around him. Charlie just started to drift off into his own little world when he heard something crunching the leaves next to him. All of a sudden, the soccer ball came crashing through the bushes and sticks landing about ten feet away from him.

Seeing the ball that close to him he was very uncertain of what he should do. Should he sit there and let the other cubs see him or should he try and make a run for it hoping they didn’t see him? He decided to stay under the tree hoping they would glance right past him.

The two cubs came rushing over to find their ball and they weaved in and out of the trees searching for it. After about a minute of searching they easily found the ball and then glanced over in the direction of Charlie. They saw him and wondered what he was doing just sitting under a tree. The two little cubs approached him and said, “Charlie, what are you doing just sitting here?”
“Well, uhhhh…I was just sitting here…watching the leaves fall from the trees,” replied Charlie worriedly.
“Okay, but if you want you can come and play soccer with us? Would you like to join us, you can be on my team,” said the large bear.
“I would love to,” Charlie muttered, “But are you sure you want me to play because I don’t have a lot of practice?”
“Charlie, we want you to play, we need an extra team member!” the cubs chimed in.
“Great! What do you want me to do?” Charlie asked.

The afternoon went on smoothly and they played soccer and other backyard games until the sun sunk below the horizon and there was no light left to see anymore. Before everyone left though, one bear said to Charlie, “We had an excellent time playing soccer with you today and I hope you can come back tomorrow.”
Another bear added, “You are really good at it too!”
“Thank you,” Charlie murmured “ and I will definitely be back tomorrow, I had a blast.”
“Okay, all of us will meet right here under the big oak tomorrow at 4:00, right after school.”
They said their good-bye and headed off their own way toward their houses.

When Charlie returned home his mother asked, “How was your time with the other cubs? What did you do?”
“Mom, I had the best time in my entire lifetime! We played soccer and capture the flag and so much else! We are meeting at the big oak tomorrow at 4:00, I can’t wait!”
“I’m glad you finally were able to build enough courage to go outside and play with them, aren’t you?” his mother said.
“Yes mother, I can’t believe for all these years I was so afraid of them, think of all the things I missed out on.”
“Of course son, but I’m glad you’re happy. It’s getting late you need to go to bed, you have school in the morning.”

Charlie and his mother walked slowly to his room together. She tucked him into his bed, put her arms around her little cub and said, “Charlie, I love you!”
“I love you too Mom, but I’m so excited I can’t go right to sleep. Would you be able to read me a story before you leave?”
“Sure Charlie, what one do you want me to read?” she asked.
“I like The Bear, The Fox and The Raccoon,” Charlie told his mother.
Only ten minutes into reading the story Charlie was sleeping. His little eyes closed tight and his mind dreaming of all the fun times he had with his new friends.

In his dream he was again sitting at the window looking out at the night sky. This time though his heart was as light as the stars the twinkled like diamonds in the dark sky above him. He was finally accepted by the cubs he had spent so many hours watching. For the first time in his life, he had friends who cared for him and could sense a feeling of belonging.

As his mother walked out of the room, she knew her little cub was sleeping happily and had someone. He had finally found trustworthy friends and she knew in return, Charlie would be the best friend ever.

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