“Through all the years, you have always been there for me. Never a whimper, never a word to regret.” He smiles into the brown, unblinking eyes that seem to understand him so well. “When I fell in love with Mary Mitchell, you weren’t jealous, or anything like that – you continued to care. I mean, you would even have slept with us, wouldn’t you?
“But that’s a silly question – you would have, I’m sure. Shared our bed and our love and our joy. That’s what makes you tick, isn’t it? Happiness. You just love seeing me happy.
“I saw that in the orphanage, oh, how many years ago? When I was sad, you made me smile. When I was lonely, you cuddled up to me – as if you felt the need to tell me I’d never be alone with you around.”
He remembers the taunts of the other children; the sideway glances and whispered conversations that stopped the moment he shuffled by. Those were terrible, lonely, loveless years…
“I had a hump and you were small. It didn’t matter when we were together; we forgot all about that when we were together. For such a long time you made me forget everything they said about me.”
The eyes – those eyes – smile back at him. They understand me so well…
“Well, now I’m all grown up, have my own business, and people actually like me. It’s been quite a journey to get to be where we are today. I don’t think I would have made it without you. You encouraged, you listened, you understood – and I somehow knew that, as long as you were near, things would work out.”
Boggel hugs the small body and smiles at the memories.
“I suppose the two of us will never grow up. In fact, I want to remain the little boy that couldn’t sleep without you in my arms.
“No, I haven’t told the rest about you. They wouldn’t understand, so you’ll have to remain my dark little secret, won’t you? Just like the old days – the two of us against the world.”
Boggel switches off the light, making sure the thick blankets cover him as well as the little body in his arms.
If everybody had one, he thinks, the world would be a better place. Then he drifts off to dream about green landscapes where little boys have straight backs and teddy bears live and talk and play.
And the bear – the much-loved stuffed toy – will reach out during the night to run a fuzzy paw over the relaxed face next to it. It may even pull up the blankets, to keep the chill out – warm dreams are far better than cold shoulders. Boggel won’t notice this, because teddy bears are very,very careful not to give their secret away. Tomorrow, when the alarm goes off, it’ll just stare back at the bent little man with its glassy eyes that have seen so much.
Boggel stirs, drawing the bear closer. “Go to sleep now, Bear, it’s late.”
The bear waits until Boggel’s breathing becomes deep and regular before it allows a slow smile to wrinkle its nose.