Teddy Bears This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

With the door wide open, nightlights glowing in each corner, I laid on my back underneath my grandma-knitted blanket. It still smelled like baby. Though I was three, I already felt so grown up. I grinned wide in my big kid bed, counting the lemon colored stars painted on my ceiling one by one. I made up bedtime stories.

I slid out of bed, scampering into my parents’ room. My toes were freezing on the bare hardwood, left uncovered by my onesie. With one little pointer finger, I poked my mother repeatedly in the dark. She woke, but closed her eyes again, as she grumbled “What is it baby?”. In a breathy whisper, I asked her if she wanted to hear my story. “The one about the dragons, and the castle in the clouds, and the-“Go back to sleep, Annie”. And I was back to lying down in my big kid bed.

Since no one would listen, I decided to whisper my bedtime stories to my teddy bears. Grabbing closest button eyed, brown fuzzed stuffed animal with small chubby fingers, the victim would hear my hushed voice resounding for hours. I was so young, and so innocent. I dreamed.

***

I reminisce this as I sit down on another bed. I kick off my black leather boots, and steal a glance at my cracked analog clock. I didn’t want to remember why, just days ago, it had taken its plummet to the floor. It’s nothing near that 9 o’clock bedtime I used to have. But that doesn’t matter anymore. Because I don’t matter anymore.

For some reason I am compelled to rummage through my closet. I turn the rusty knob counterclockwise, and pull it open. Dust bunnies clump together, pulled along smoothly with the door. I drag out a shabby box taped shut, dirty, and with no labeling. Regardless, I know its contents. I pull my pocketknife from my pocket, slicing it open in an easy sweeping motion.

I pull out my blanket, the one that smelled like baby. I hold it to my nose and inhale. It smells like cheap cigarettes, just like the rest of my room. No remnant of my childhood in its scent. Setting it aside, I pull two sad looking nightlights from the box. I turn them over in my hand, flicking the switch to ON, and shove it into the closest outlet. No light. Figures.

I dig deeper in the clutter and pull out a small, filthy brown teddy bear by its arm. It’s worn, taken several casualties from a naïve child’s love. I strip off my daytime clothes and crawl into bed with the blanket that no longer smells like baby and a teddy bear that now looks demented.

With no light from a nightlight, and no comforting baby smells, I whisper stories to the teddy bear. I tell it how mommy’s gone, and daddy drinks too much, and why I have so many bruises. I feel pathetic that I’ve come to such desperate measures as pretending to be a child to feel happiness. Pathetic or not, I whisper more. I slide my fingers over its black button eyes, smoothing away the dust. I laugh quietly, because for once I actually feel good. Well, as good as it can get nowadays. As I tell stories to teddy bears.





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