Teddy had been tied to the telephone pole for two weeks. During this time, he had endured rain, wind, and scorching temperatures, sometimes all in the same day. His fur, once white and soft, had grown stiff and discolored.
After a few days, he had grown used to the harsh weather. He even learned to ignore the pain caused by the dirty shoestring that bound him tightly to the pole. But the one thing that bothered him, the one thing he could not shake, was the loneliness. Teddy wasn’t used to being by himself. Before the accident, he’d always had someone to talk to, to play with, to pass the time with. But this all changed when the drunk driver killed little Tina, right here at this very intersection. The next day, Teddy was snatched from Tina’s room and tied to the pole.
Teddy would rather be tied to a tree in the middle of the forest. At least then he wouldn’t be surrounded by constant reminders of why he was here. When Teddy looked down, he could still see some of the broken glass from the wreck, glinting in the sunlight. To his left, the row of one-story brick apartments where he had once lived stretched down the block. To the right was the liquor store, where the drunk man had pulled out of the parking lot much too fast. Despite the accident, Teddy still watched drunk people come and go every night.
He also saw children playing in front of the apartments. Every day he watched little girls just like Tina skipping rope on the sidewalk, playing with dolls, or chasing each other through the yards in a game of tag. The more he watched them, heard their laughter, saw their smiles, the more he craved a friend.
One night when Teddy was particularly lonely, he decided he couldn’t live any longer without companionship. He rubbed the back of his neck against the telephone pole, rubbed until the already-frayed shoestring snapped. He fell to the ground, rolled over, and then flung himself upright. He walked to the edge of the curb, looked both ways, and then hurried across the dimly-lit street.
Since all of the apartments were designed the same, it was easy for Teddy to locate a child’s window. But he was only two feet tall, and the window was too high. He looked around and found that the children had left their toys scattered around the yard. He located a toy truck, pushed it over to the window and climbed on top of it.
He peered through the window and saw a little girl sleeping in her bed. She looked a lot like Tina, so small and pretty in her pink pajamas. Her room looked like Tina’s too, cluttered with books, toys, and stuffed animals.
Teddy rapped on the window, but his paw was too soft to wake the sleeping girl. He tilted his head forward and used his hard black eye to tap on the window. The girl stirred. He tapped again. The girl sat up. She looked at Teddy and rubbed her eyes.
Teddy motioned for her to come outside.
The little girl got out of bed, walked across the room and lifted the window.
Teddy hopped down from the truck and retreated several feet, motioning for the girl to follow.
As the girl climbed out of the window, Teddy was filled with happiness. He would finally have a friend!
Teddy ran to the curb, but not too fast; he didn’t want the girl to lose sight of him. He looked back, saw her walking towards him through the yard, smiling.
Teddy ran across the street and stood on the opposite curb. As the girl stepped into the street, a car tore out of the liquor store parking lot, tires squealing, headlights sweeping through the darkness. Illuminating the girl’s shocked expression as the car ran her down.
* * *
As the sun went down, Teddy knew it was going to be another long night on the telephone pole. The liquor store parking lot buzzed with activity. Broken glass gleamed in the street from the wreck last night, and a dark red stain marked the spot where the little girl had bled to death. Next to Teddy, tied to a light pole, was the girl’s stuffed unicorn. And while he did provide companionship, he wasn’t the most talkative fellow. What Teddy needed was a friend more like himself.
The shoestring Tina’s mom had reattached Teddy with was just as old and frayed as the last one, and it would only take him a moment to work himself free again. As the streetlights flashed on, and darkness claimed the sky, he watched as parents ushered their children in for the night.
So many boys and girls. One of them had to have a teddy bear.
Copyright: © 2010 Chris Reed
Copyright: © 2010 Chris Reed
Chris Reed is the author of more than 60 stories. He lives in Davison, MI, where he enjoys browsing thrift stores, eating pizza, and waiting for hockey fights to break out, sometimes simultaneously. Visit his official web site: www.ChrisReedFiction.com.