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Grace Elliot

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Member Since: Aug, 2010

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Super Nutrition for Dogs n' Cats
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Dogs can live until 20 and cats until 30. Why are their lifespans shortened? Discover natural treatments and lifestyles that can help your pet live long and prosper...  
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Thread Bare Bear - a touching story of a boy and his bear.
By Grace Elliot
Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rated "G" by the Author.

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A heart warming story of a boy learning to grow up and let go of childhood things...with a twist.

 

Threadbare Bear.
                         
 
            Joshua’s eyes itched, hot with unshed tears. His school bag thudded onto the bedroom floor. Mum didn’t say goodbye. He swallowed hard, fighting back the hurt and confusion. Suddenly he didn’t care if he was too old for teddies, he needed his old friend. She left for hospital and didn’t say goodbye.  
Standing on tiptoe, he stretched upward, fingers feeling over the rim of the high shelf above his bed, until he felt the dusty fur of his old teddy. Pulling the toy forward, his threadbare friend winked with a scratched eye; his black cotton mouth still smiling as if he had known all along someday he’d be needed again.
            Clutching Bear against his chest Joshua slumped down against the radiator. Despite the heat burning his back, he shivered. From years of habit Joshua stroked Bear against his cheek and took a slow, deep breath. He had almost forgotten teddy’s smell; that delicious mix of marmite and sleep. Comfort. It was Bear that had made him brave when he’d had nightmares. Security. His lucky bear Mum had called him. With Bear he could do anything.
Mum. A lump blocked his throat. She doesn’t want me anymore. Not with a new baby on the way.
            The click of the light switch made him jump.
            ‘Joshua? What are you doing in the dark?’
            He curled round Bear, self conscious, trying to hide his red-rimmed eyes.
            ‘Nothing Gran.’
            From the shape of the silence Joshua could tell his Gran was smiling in that soft, lavender blue way of hers.
            ‘Mind if I join you then?’
Slippered feet padded across the carpet, her knees creaking as she lowered herself onto the floor beside him. Joshua squirmed awkwardly, angry at himself for crying like a little kid. He risked a sideways glance at Gran but she hadn’t noticed. She had been peeling potatoes; a starchy wet smell clung to her skin mingled with the scent of tea rose as she placed an arm around his shoulder, gathering him close.  For a while neither spoke. Joshua shut his eyes and let himself relax into her embrace. His grip on Bear loosened.
Gran’s words were soft and warm, ‘I remember when your Mother gave you that teddy.’
            ‘I was much younger then…’ He said defensively.
‘Bear had such lovely fur back then; soft as duck down, toast colour… I remember you sat in your high chair, trying to spoon feed him porridge.’ A fond tinkle of amusement coloured her voice.
‘Gran!’
‘No need to be embarrassed, dear.’
Slowly uncurling, Joshua held the teddy at arms length, curious as to how Bear looked to other people. His fur was worn bare to the canvas in places, one eye was missing and the other badly scratched. A wave of affection warmed his heart.  It don’t matter if you’re tatty, I’ll always love you. Joshua could account for every stain, every bald patch a memory of adventures together. Bear had always been there for him, a bundle of soft, huggable safety in a big, scary world.
Gran squeezed his arm. ‘You were inseparable. Do you remember how your Mum made him that waistcoat so that he wouldn’t get lost at Nursery School?’
Josh fingered the grubby waistcoat that once had been creamy calico. He dimly remembered Mum with Bear beside her on the sofa, chewing her lip as she drew around him. It had seemed like magic when she transformed a piece of flat fabric into a waistcoat, sewn with tiny stitches, finished with little leather buttons.
‘Bear wore a name tag like me.’ He murmured then bit his tongue on the words he wanted to say. Mum cared about me then. Not like now with the baby making her poorly.
A silvery tear quivered on the tip of Joshua’s nose, silently stretching into nothingness until he swatted it with the back of his hand. He sniffed. Gran folded him more tightly against her until her cardigan tickled his cheek. Josh snuggled closer, breathing in the smell of fabric conditioner and freshly ironed clothes he always associated with Gran.
Mum hasn’t hugged me for ages.’ He buried his face in Bear to fight the yawning loneliness.
Gran whispered. ‘Your Mum is doing her best, dear.’
Josh nodded. ‘But she’s not the same….’
What he wanted to say was that he ached for Mum how she used to be, the Mum who wriggled her fingers like tentacles to beckon him over for a cuddle. He longed for her to notice him, to smile and say how special he was. Only she didn’t any more, not for ages. It’s all my fault. If I been better behaved… hadn’t torn my school trousers… if only that foot ball hadn’t broken the window… then she wouldn’t need a new baby to love and she wouldn’t be so tired.
‘I know things are difficult just now, my dear, but she does love you very much.’
Suddenly he couldn’t hold the words in any longer, his emotions tumbling out in a rush. ‘I wish she’d come to football training again. It’s been ages and the last time Mum stared into space as if she was really bored.’ He lowered his eyes and sniffed. ‘I know I didn’t play very well.’
‘Dearest, it’s not about you being good, or bad. It’s just your mum has a lot on her mind.’
‘Is that why she’s so grumpy?’ He searched his Gran’s face for answers. Testing her.
‘She’s tired, my darling.’
‘I try to help; but she gets cross. I brought her breakfast on a tray but she shouted at me for spilling the milk.’
‘She’s not been herself.’
‘I know. She feels sick all the time.’ Joshua nearly added that he understood why Mum had started wearing baggy T shirts and complained her clothes didn’t fit anymore.  His best friend Ben had explained everything. Ben had said that his Mum had got fat, grumpy and tired when she was expecting his little sister. Why don’t the grown ups just tell me the truth?
‘You do know your Mum loves you?’
‘But she went without even saying goodbye.’ A dam burst. ‘I don’t matter to her, not now she’s growing a baby.’
‘Oh sweetheart, is that what you think?’ A look of pain shot across Gran’s kind blue eyes.
‘Ben says it will get worse when the baby’s born…it’ll cry all night…’
Gran took a deep breath. ‘I’m so sorry. We should have told you before this.’
Josh nodded, his face pressed against Bear. ‘It’s all right. I know she won’t have time for me when it arrives but I’m can look after myself.’
‘Joshua dear, please forgive us.’ Gran stroked his arm. ‘We didn’t know what to say for the best, we were trying to protect you. But clearly we were wrong. Darling, your Mum isn’t having a baby.’
A glimmer of hope flared in Joshua’s heart, then flickered and died. An alternative truth presented itself and it frightened him. ‘Then why is she in hospital?’
‘Sweetheart, your Mum needs a doctor to take care of her for a while.’
‘She’s ill?’ Joshua’s voice trembled, his eyes wide with alarm.
‘Mum will get better but she has something called depression.’
Josh searched his Gran’s face. ‘What’s that?’
Gran looked thoughtful. ‘It means that Mum loves you very much, only she feels sad a lot of the time.’
He considered her words carefully. ‘Was it something I did?’
Gran’s face creased. ‘No sweetheart, absolutely not. It’s you that give her the strength to carry one. It’s because of you that she wants to get better.’
Neither spoke. Joshua’s mind spun.
‘Then she does still love me?’ He lips quivered into a wobbly smile; sunshine breaking through cloud.
‘Of course.’ Gran squeezed his hand. ‘Not only does she love you, but she needs you. No one makes her laugh like you. That’s why she’s decided to go into hospital just now, because she wants to be happy and have good times together like you used to. They will help her in hospital. And until then I’ll come every day after school to be with you and Dad.’
Joshua sat still as his Gran’s words sank in. He squeezed Bear tight, closing his eyes, feeling his scratchy fur against his cheek. How could he have forgotten that Bear always helped?
‘When I fell off the top bunk Bear stopped my wrist hurting.’ Joshua looked up slowly and smiled at Gran. ‘And when I had chicken pox he made me feel better.’
Joshua held teddy, lifting him high to plant a kiss on his threadbare nose.  ‘And that’s why I want Mum to have Bear in hospital.’
‘Darling?’
Joshua grinned, eyes bright as a weight lifted. He wanted to help and the answer was staring him in the face.
‘When I’m sad Bear makes me happy again…he’s much better than yucky medicines…I just know he’ll help Mum get well soon.’
‘Young man, what a good idea! With you and Bear on her side, I can see her smiling already….’ 
 
 
-End-
 
1,510 words.
Pippa Elliott.
Threadbare Bear.
                         
 
            Joshua’s eyes itched, hot with unshed tears. His school bag thudded onto the bedroom floor. Mum didn’t say goodbye. He swallowed hard, fighting back the hurt and confusion. Suddenly he didn’t care if he was too old for teddies, he needed his old friend. She left for hospital and didn’t say goodbye.  
Standing on tiptoe, he stretched upward, fingers feeling over the rim of the high shelf above his bed, until he felt the dusty fur of his old teddy. Pulling the toy forward, his threadbare friend winked with a scratched eye; his black cotton mouth still smiling as if he had known all along someday he’d be needed again.
            Clutching Bear against his chest Joshua slumped down against the radiator. Despite the heat burning his back, he shivered. From years of habit Joshua stroked Bear against his cheek and took a slow, deep breath. He had almost forgotten teddy’s smell; that delicious mix of marmite and sleep. Comfort. It was Bear that had made him brave when he’d had nightmares. Security. His lucky bear Mum had called him. With Bear he could do anything.
Mum. A lump blocked his throat. She doesn’t want me anymore. Not with a new baby on the way.
            The click of the light switch made him jump.
            ‘Joshua? What are you doing in the dark?’
            He curled round Bear, self conscious, trying to hide his red-rimmed eyes.
            ‘Nothing Gran.’
            From the shape of the silence Joshua could tell his Gran was smiling in that soft, lavender blue way of hers.
            ‘Mind if I join you then?’
Slippered feet padded across the carpet, her knees creaking as she lowered herself onto the floor beside him. Joshua squirmed awkwardly, angry at himself for crying like a little kid. He risked a sideways glance at Gran but she hadn’t noticed. She had been peeling potatoes; a starchy wet smell clung to her skin mingled with the scent of tea rose as she placed an arm around his shoulder, gathering him close.  For a while neither spoke. Joshua shut his eyes and let himself relax into her embrace. His grip on Bear loosened.
Gran’s words were soft and warm, ‘I remember when your Mother gave you that teddy.’
            ‘I was much younger then…’ He said defensively.
‘Bear had such lovely fur back then; soft as duck down, toast colour… I remember you sat in your high chair, trying to spoon feed him porridge.’ A fond tinkle of amusement coloured her voice.
‘Gran!’
‘No need to be embarrassed, dear.’
Slowly uncurling, Joshua held the teddy at arms length, curious as to how Bear looked to other people. His fur was worn bare to the canvas in places, one eye was missing and the other badly scratched. A wave of affection warmed his heart.  It don’t matter if you’re tatty, I’ll always love you. Joshua could account for every stain, every bald patch a memory of adventures together. Bear had always been there for him, a bundle of soft, huggable safety in a big, scary world.
Gran squeezed his arm. ‘You were inseparable. Do you remember how your Mum made him that waistcoat so that he wouldn’t get lost at Nursery School?’
Josh fingered the grubby waistcoat that once had been creamy calico. He dimly remembered Mum with Bear beside her on the sofa, chewing her lip as she drew around him. It had seemed like magic when she transformed a piece of flat fabric into a waistcoat, sewn with tiny stitches, finished with little leather buttons.
‘Bear wore a name tag like me.’ He murmured then bit his tongue on the words he wanted to say. Mum cared about me then. Not like now with the baby making her poorly.
A silvery tear quivered on the tip of Joshua’s nose, silently stretching into nothingness until he swatted it with the back of his hand. He sniffed. Gran folded him more tightly against her until her cardigan tickled his cheek. Josh snuggled closer, breathing in the smell of fabric conditioner and freshly ironed clothes he always associated with Gran.
Mum hasn’t hugged me for ages.’ He buried his face in Bear to fight the yawning loneliness.
Gran whispered. ‘Your Mum is doing her best, dear.’
Josh nodded. ‘But she’s not the same….’
What he wanted to say was that he ached for Mum how she used to be, the Mum who wriggled her fingers like tentacles to beckon him over for a cuddle. He longed for her to notice him, to smile and say how special he was. Only she didn’t any more, not for ages. It’s all my fault. If I been better behaved… hadn’t torn my school trousers… if only that foot ball hadn’t broken the window… then she wouldn’t need a new baby to love and she wouldn’t be so tired.
‘I know things are difficult just now, my dear, but she does love you very much.’
Suddenly he couldn’t hold the words in any longer, his emotions tumbling out in a rush. ‘I wish she’d come to football training again. It’s been ages and the last time Mum stared into space as if she was really bored.’ He lowered his eyes and sniffed. ‘I know I didn’t play very well.’
‘Dearest, it’s not about you being good, or bad. It’s just your mum has a lot on her mind.’
‘Is that why she’s so grumpy?’ He searched his Gran’s face for answers. Testing her.
‘She’s tired, my darling.’
‘I try to help; but she gets cross. I brought her breakfast on a tray but she shouted at me for spilling the milk.’
‘She’s not been herself.’
‘I know. She feels sick all the time.’ Joshua nearly added that he understood why Mum had started wearing baggy T shirts and complained her clothes didn’t fit anymore.  His best friend Ben had explained everything. Ben had said that his Mum had got fat, grumpy and tired when she was expecting his little sister. Why don’t the grown ups just tell me the truth?
‘You do know your Mum loves you?’
‘But she went without even saying goodbye.’ A dam burst. ‘I don’t matter to her, not now she’s growing a baby.’
‘Oh sweetheart, is that what you think?’ A look of pain shot across Gran’s kind blue eyes.
‘Ben says it will get worse when the baby’s born…it’ll cry all night…’
Gran took a deep breath. ‘I’m so sorry. We should have told you before this.’
Josh nodded, his face pressed against Bear. ‘It’s all right. I know she won’t have time for me when it arrives but I’m can look after myself.’
‘Joshua dear, please forgive us.’ Gran stroked his arm. ‘We didn’t know what to say for the best, we were trying to protect you. But clearly we were wrong. Darling, your Mum isn’t having a baby.’
A glimmer of hope flared in Joshua’s heart, then flickered and died. An alternative truth presented itself and it frightened him. ‘Then why is she in hospital?’
‘Sweetheart, your Mum needs a doctor to take care of her for a while.’
‘She’s ill?’ Joshua’s voice trembled, his eyes wide with alarm.
‘Mum will get better but she has something called depression.’
Josh searched his Gran’s face. ‘What’s that?’
Gran looked thoughtful. ‘It means that Mum loves you very much, only she feels sad a lot of the time.’
He considered her words carefully. ‘Was it something I did?’
Gran’s face creased. ‘No sweetheart, absolutely not. It’s you that give her the strength to carry one. It’s because of you that she wants to get better.’
Neither spoke. Joshua’s mind spun.
‘Then she does still love me?’ He lips quivered into a wobbly smile; sunshine breaking through cloud.
‘Of course.’ Gran squeezed his hand. ‘Not only does she love you, but she needs you. No one makes her laugh like you. That’s why she’s decided to go into hospital just now, because she wants to be happy and have good times together like you used to. They will help her in hospital. And until then I’ll come every day after school to be with you and Dad.’
Joshua sat still as his Gran’s words sank in. He squeezed Bear tight, closing his eyes, feeling his scratchy fur against his cheek. How could he have forgotten that Bear always helped?
‘When I fell off the top bunk Bear stopped my wrist hurting.’ Joshua looked up slowly and smiled at Gran. ‘And when I had chicken pox he made me feel better.’
Joshua held teddy, lifting him high to plant a kiss on his threadbare nose.  ‘And that’s why I want Mum to have Bear in hospital.’
‘Darling?’
Joshua grinned, eyes bright as a weight lifted. He wanted to help and the answer was staring him in the face.
‘When I’m sad Bear makes me happy again…he’s much better than yucky medicines…I just know he’ll help Mum get well soon.’
‘Young man, what a good idea! With you and Bear on her side, I can see her smiling already….’ 
 
 
-End-
 
1,510 words.
Pippa Elliott.
Threadbare Bear.
                         
 
            Joshua’s eyes itched, hot with unshed tears. His school bag thudded onto the bedroom floor. Mum didn’t say goodbye. He swallowed hard, fighting back the hurt and confusion. Suddenly he didn’t care if he was too old for teddies, he needed his old friend. She left for hospital and didn’t say goodbye.  
Standing on tiptoe, he stretched upward, fingers feeling over the rim of the high shelf above his bed, until he felt the dusty fur of his old teddy. Pulling the toy forward, his threadbare friend winked with a scratched eye; his black cotton mouth still smiling as if he had known all along someday he’d be needed again.
            Clutching Bear against his chest Joshua slumped down against the radiator. Despite the heat burning his back, he shivered. From years of habit Joshua stroked Bear against his cheek and took a slow, deep breath. He had almost forgotten teddy’s smell; that delicious mix of marmite and sleep. Comfort. It was Bear that had made him brave when he’d had nightmares. Security. His lucky bear Mum had called him. With Bear he could do anything.
Mum. A lump blocked his throat. She doesn’t want me anymore. Not with a new baby on the way.
            The click of the light switch made him jump.
            ‘Joshua? What are you doing in the dark?’
            He curled round Bear, self conscious, trying to hide his red-rimmed eyes.
            ‘Nothing Gran.’
            From the shape of the silence Joshua could tell his Gran was smiling in that soft, lavender blue way of hers.
            ‘Mind if I join you then?’
Slippered feet padded across the carpet, her knees creaking as she lowered herself onto the floor beside him. Joshua squirmed awkwardly, angry at himself for crying like a little kid. He risked a sideways glance at Gran but she hadn’t noticed. She had been peeling potatoes; a starchy wet smell clung to her skin mingled with the scent of tea rose as she placed an arm around his shoulder, gathering him close.  For a while neither spoke. Joshua shut his eyes and let himself relax into her embrace. His grip on Bear loosened.
Gran’s words were soft and warm, ‘I remember when your Mother gave you that teddy.’
            ‘I was much younger then…’ He said defensively.
‘Bear had such lovely fur back then; soft as duck down, toast colour… I remember you sat in your high chair, trying to spoon feed him porridge.’ A fond tinkle of amusement coloured her voice.
‘Gran!’
‘No need to be embarrassed, dear.’
Slowly uncurling, Joshua held the teddy at arms length, curious as to how Bear looked to other people. His fur was worn bare to the canvas in places, one eye was missing and the other badly scratched. A wave of affection warmed his heart.  It don’t matter if you’re tatty, I’ll always love you. Joshua could account for every stain, every bald patch a memory of adventures together. Bear had always been there for him, a bundle of soft, huggable safety in a big, scary world.
Gran squeezed his arm. ‘You were inseparable. Do you remember how your Mum made him that waistcoat so that he wouldn’t get lost at Nursery School?’
Josh fingered the grubby waistcoat that once had been creamy calico. He dimly remembered Mum with Bear beside her on the sofa, chewing her lip as she drew around him. It had seemed like magic when she transformed a piece of flat fabric into a waistcoat, sewn with tiny stitches, finished with little leather buttons.
‘Bear wore a name tag like me.’ He murmured then bit his tongue on the words he wanted to say. Mum cared about me then. Not like now with the baby making her poorly.
A silvery tear quivered on the tip of Joshua’s nose, silently stretching into nothingness until he swatted it with the back of his hand. He sniffed. Gran folded him more tightly against her until her cardigan tickled his cheek. Josh snuggled closer, breathing in the smell of fabric conditioner and freshly ironed clothes he always associated with Gran.
Mum hasn’t hugged me for ages.’ He buried his face in Bear to fight the yawning loneliness.
Gran whispered. ‘Your Mum is doing her best, dear.’
Josh nodded. ‘But she’s not the same….’
What he wanted to say was that he ached for Mum how she used to be, the Mum who wriggled her fingers like tentacles to beckon him over for a cuddle. He longed for her to notice him, to smile and say how special he was. Only she didn’t any more, not for ages. It’s all my fault. If I been better behaved… hadn’t torn my school trousers… if only that foot ball hadn’t broken the window… then she wouldn’t need a new baby to love and she wouldn’t be so tired.
‘I know things are difficult just now, my dear, but she does love you very much.’
Suddenly he couldn’t hold the words in any longer, his emotions tumbling out in a rush. ‘I wish she’d come to football training again. It’s been ages and the last time Mum stared into space as if she was really bored.’ He lowered his eyes and sniffed. ‘I know I didn’t play very well.’
‘Dearest, it’s not about you being good, or bad. It’s just your mum has a lot on her mind.’
‘Is that why she’s so grumpy?’ He searched his Gran’s face for answers. Testing her.
‘She’s tired, my darling.’
‘I try to help; but she gets cross. I brought her breakfast on a tray but she shouted at me for spilling the milk.’
‘She’s not been herself.’
‘I know. She feels sick all the time.’ Joshua nearly added that he understood why Mum had started wearing baggy T shirts and complained her clothes didn’t fit anymore.  His best friend Ben had explained everything. Ben had said that his Mum had got fat, grumpy and tired when she was expecting his little sister. Why don’t the grown ups just tell me the truth?
‘You do know your Mum loves you?’
‘But she went without even saying goodbye.’ A dam burst. ‘I don’t matter to her, not now she’s growing a baby.’
‘Oh sweetheart, is that what you think?’ A look of pain shot across Gran’s kind blue eyes.
‘Ben says it will get worse when the baby’s born…it’ll cry all night…’
Gran took a deep breath. ‘I’m so sorry. We should have told you before this.’
Josh nodded, his face pressed against Bear. ‘It’s all right. I know she won’t have time for me when it arrives but I’m can look after myself.’
‘Joshua dear, please forgive us.’ Gran stroked his arm. ‘We didn’t know what to say for the best, we were trying to protect you. But clearly we were wrong. Darling, your Mum isn’t having a baby.’
A glimmer of hope flared in Joshua’s heart, then flickered and died. An alternative truth presented itself and it frightened him. ‘Then why is she in hospital?’
‘Sweetheart, your Mum needs a doctor to take care of her for a while.’
‘She’s ill?’ Joshua’s voice trembled, his eyes wide with alarm.
‘Mum will get better but she has something called depression.’
Josh searched his Gran’s face. ‘What’s that?’
Gran looked thoughtful. ‘It means that Mum loves you very much, only she feels sad a lot of the time.’
He considered her words carefully. ‘Was it something I did?’
Gran’s face creased. ‘No sweetheart, absolutely not. It’s you that give her the strength to carry one. It’s because of you that she wants to get better.’
Neither spoke. Joshua’s mind spun.
‘Then she does still love me?’ He lips quivered into a wobbly smile; sunshine breaking through cloud.
‘Of course.’ Gran squeezed his hand. ‘Not only does she love you, but she needs you. No one makes her laugh like you. That’s why she’s decided to go into hospital just now, because she wants to be happy and have good times together like you used to. They will help her in hospital. And until then I’ll come every day after school to be with you and Dad.’
Joshua sat still as his Gran’s words sank in. He squeezed Bear tight, closing his eyes, feeling his scratchy fur against his cheek. How could he have forgotten that Bear always helped?
‘When I fell off the top bunk Bear stopped my wrist hurting.’ Joshua looked up slowly and smiled at Gran. ‘And when I had chicken pox he made me feel better.’
Joshua held teddy, lifting him high to plant a kiss on his threadbare nose.  ‘And that’s why I want Mum to have Bear in hospital.’
‘Darling?’
Joshua grinned, eyes bright as a weight lifted. He wanted to help and the answer was staring him in the face.
‘When I’m sad Bear makes me happy again…he’s much better than yucky medicines…I just know he’ll help Mum get well soon.’
‘Young man, what a good idea! With you and Bear on her side, I can see her smiling already….’ 
 
 
-End-
 
1,510 words.
Pippa Elliott.
Threadbare Bear.
                         
 
            Joshua’s eyes itched, hot with unshed tears. His school bag thudded onto the bedroom floor. Mum didn’t say goodbye. He swallowed hard, fighting back the hurt and confusion. Suddenly he didn’t care if he was too old for teddies, he needed his old friend. She left for hospital and didn’t say goodbye.  
Standing on tiptoe, he stretched upward, fingers feeling over the rim of the high shelf above his bed, until he felt the dusty fur of his old teddy. Pulling the toy forward, his threadbare friend winked with a scratched eye; his black cotton mouth still smiling as if he had known all along someday he’d be needed again.
            Clutching Bear against his chest Joshua slumped down against the radiator. Despite the heat burning his back, he shivered. From years of habit Joshua stroked Bear against his cheek and took a slow, deep breath. He had almost forgotten teddy’s smell; that delicious mix of marmite and sleep. Comfort. It was Bear that had made him brave when he’d had nightmares. Security. His lucky bear Mum had called him. With Bear he could do anything.
Mum. A lump blocked his throat. She doesn’t want me anymore. Not with a new baby on the way.
            The click of the light switch made him jump.
            ‘Joshua? What are you doing in the dark?’
            He curled round Bear, self conscious, trying to hide his red-rimmed eyes.
            ‘Nothing Gran.’
            From the shape of the silence Joshua could tell his Gran was smiling in that soft, lavender blue way of hers.
            ‘Mind if I join you then?’
Slippered feet padded across the carpet, her knees creaking as she lowered herself onto the floor beside him. Joshua squirmed awkwardly, angry at himself for crying like a little kid. He risked a sideways glance at Gran but she hadn’t noticed. She had been peeling potatoes; a starchy wet smell clung to her skin mingled with the scent of tea rose as she placed an arm around his shoulder, gathering him close.  For a while neither spoke. Joshua shut his eyes and let himself relax into her embrace. His grip on Bear loosened.
Gran’s words were soft and warm, ‘I remember when your Mother gave you that teddy.’
            ‘I was much younger then…’ He said defensively.
‘Bear had such lovely fur back then; soft as duck down, toast colour… I remember you sat in your high chair, trying to spoon feed him porridge.’ A fond tinkle of amusement coloured her voice.
‘Gran!’
‘No need to be embarrassed, dear.’
Slowly uncurling, Joshua held the teddy at arms length, curious as to how Bear looked to other people. His fur was worn bare to the canvas in places, one eye was missing and the other badly scratched. A wave of affection warmed his heart.  It don’t matter if you’re tatty, I’ll always love you. Joshua could account for every stain, every bald patch a memory of adventures together. Bear had always been there for him, a bundle of soft, huggable safety in a big, scary world.
Gran squeezed his arm. ‘You were inseparable. Do you remember how your Mum made him that waistcoat so that he wouldn’t get lost at Nursery School?’
Josh fingered the grubby waistcoat that once had been creamy calico. He dimly remembered Mum with Bear beside her on the sofa, chewing her lip as she drew around him. It had seemed like magic when she transformed a piece of flat fabric into a waistcoat, sewn with tiny stitches, finished with little leather buttons.
‘Bear wore a name tag like me.’ He murmured then bit his tongue on the words he wanted to say. Mum cared about me then. Not like now with the baby making her poorly.
A silvery tear quivered on the tip of Joshua’s nose, silently stretching into nothingness until he swatted it with the back of his hand. He sniffed. Gran folded him more tightly against her until her cardigan tickled his cheek. Josh snuggled closer, breathing in the smell of fabric conditioner and freshly ironed clothes he always associated with Gran.
Mum hasn’t hugged me for ages.’ He buried his face in Bear to fight the yawning loneliness.
Gran whispered. ‘Your Mum is doing her best, dear.’
Josh nodded. ‘But she’s not the same….’
What he wanted to say was that he ached for Mum how she used to be, the Mum who wriggled her fingers like tentacles to beckon him over for a cuddle. He longed for her to notice him, to smile and say how special he was. Only she didn’t any more, not for ages. It’s all my fault. If I been better behaved… hadn’t torn my school trousers… if only that foot ball hadn’t broken the window… then she wouldn’t need a new baby to love and she wouldn’t be so tired.
‘I know things are difficult just now, my dear, but she does love you very much.’
Suddenly he couldn’t hold the words in any longer, his emotions tumbling out in a rush. ‘I wish she’d come to football training again. It’s been ages and the last time Mum stared into space as if she was really bored.’ He lowered his eyes and sniffed. ‘I know I didn’t play very well.’
‘Dearest, it’s not about you being good, or bad. It’s just your mum has a lot on her mind.’
‘Is that why she’s so grumpy?’ He searched his Gran’s face for answers. Testing her.
‘She’s tired, my darling.’
‘I try to help; but she gets cross. I brought her breakfast on a tray but she shouted at me for spilling the milk.’
‘She’s not been herself.’
‘I know. She feels sick all the time.’ Joshua nearly added that he understood why Mum had started wearing baggy T shirts and complained her clothes didn’t fit anymore.  His best friend Ben had explained everything. Ben had said that his Mum had got fat, grumpy and tired when she was expecting his little sister. Why don’t the grown ups just tell me the truth?
‘You do know your Mum loves you?’
‘But she went without even saying goodbye.’ A dam burst. ‘I don’t matter to her, not now she’s growing a baby.’
‘Oh sweetheart, is that what you think?’ A look of pain shot across Gran’s kind blue eyes.
‘Ben says it will get worse when the baby’s born…it’ll cry all night…’
Gran took a deep breath. ‘I’m so sorry. We should have told you before this.’
Josh nodded, his face pressed against Bear. ‘It’s all right. I know she won’t have time for me when it arrives but I’m can look after myself.’
‘Joshua dear, please forgive us.’ Gran stroked his arm. ‘We didn’t know what to say for the best, we were trying to protect you. But clearly we were wrong. Darling, your Mum isn’t having a baby.’
A glimmer of hope flared in Joshua’s heart, then flickered and died. An alternative truth presented itself and it frightened him. ‘Then why is she in hospital?’
‘Sweetheart, your Mum needs a doctor to take care of her for a while.’
‘She’s ill?’ Joshua’s voice trembled, his eyes wide with alarm.
‘Mum will get better but she has something called depression.’
Josh searched his Gran’s face. ‘What’s that?’
Gran looked thoughtful. ‘It means that Mum loves you very much, only she feels sad a lot of the time.’
He considered her words carefully. ‘Was it something I did?’
Gran’s face creased. ‘No sweetheart, absolutely not. It’s you that give her the strength to carry one. It’s because of you that she wants to get better.’
Neither spoke. Joshua’s mind spun.
‘Then she does still love me?’ He lips quivered into a wobbly smile; sunshine breaking through cloud.
‘Of course.’ Gran squeezed his hand. ‘Not only does she love you, but she needs you. No one makes her laugh like you. That’s why she’s decided to go into hospital just now, because she wants to be happy and have good times together like you used to. They will help her in hospital. And until then I’ll come every day after school to be with you and Dad.’
Joshua sat still as his Gran’s words sank in. He squeezed Bear tight, closing his eyes, feeling his scratchy fur against his cheek. How could he have forgotten that Bear always helped?
‘When I fell off the top bunk Bear stopped my wrist hurting.’ Joshua looked up slowly and smiled at Gran. ‘And when I had chicken pox he made me feel better.’
Joshua held teddy, lifting him high to plant a kiss on his threadbare nose.  ‘And that’s why I want Mum to have Bear in hospital.’
‘Darling?’
Joshua grinned, eyes bright as a weight lifted. He wanted to help and the answer was staring him in the face.
‘When I’m sad Bear makes me happy again…he’s much better than yucky medicines…I just know he’ll help Mum get well soon.’
‘Young man, what a good idea! With you and Bear on her side, I can see her smiling already….’ 
 
 
-End-
 
1,510 words.
Pippa Elliott.
Threadbare Bear.
                         
 
            Joshua’s eyes itched, hot with unshed tears. His school bag thudded onto the bedroom floor. Mum didn’t say goodbye. He swallowed hard, fighting back the hurt and confusion. Suddenly he didn’t care if he was too old for teddies, he needed his old friend. She left for hospital and didn’t say goodbye.  
Standing on tiptoe, he stretched upward, fingers feeling over the rim of the high shelf above his bed, until he felt the dusty fur of his old teddy. Pulling the toy forward, his threadbare friend winked with a scratched eye; his black cotton mouth still smiling as if he had known all along someday he’d be needed again.
            Clutching Bear against his chest Joshua slumped down against the radiator. Despite the heat burning his back, he shivered. From years of habit Joshua stroked Bear against his cheek and took a slow, deep breath. He had almost forgotten teddy’s smell; that delicious mix of marmite and sleep. Comfort. It was Bear that had made him brave when he’d had nightmares. Security. His lucky bear Mum had called him. With Bear he could do anything.
Mum. A lump blocked his throat. She doesn’t want me anymore. Not with a new baby on the way.
            The click of the light switch made him jump.
            ‘Joshua? What are you doing in the dark?’
            He curled round Bear, self conscious, trying to hide his red-rimmed eyes.
            ‘Nothing Gran.’
            From the shape of the silence Joshua could tell his Gran was smiling in that soft, lavender blue way of hers.
            ‘Mind if I join you then?’
Slippered feet padded across the carpet, her knees creaking as she lowered herself onto the floor beside him. Joshua squirmed awkwardly, angry at himself for crying like a little kid. He risked a sideways glance at Gran but she hadn’t noticed. She had been peeling potatoes; a starchy wet smell clung to her skin mingled with the scent of tea rose as she placed an arm around his shoulder, gathering him close.  For a while neither spoke. Joshua shut his eyes and let himself relax into her embrace. His grip on Bear loosened.
Gran’s words were soft and warm, ‘I remember when your Mother gave you that teddy.’
            ‘I was much younger then…’ He said defensively.
‘Bear had such lovely fur back then; soft as duck down, toast colour… I remember you sat in your high chair, trying to spoon feed him porridge.’ A fond tinkle of amusement coloured her voice.
‘Gran!’
‘No need to be embarrassed, dear.’
Slowly uncurling, Joshua held the teddy at arms length, curious as to how Bear looked to other people. His fur was worn bare to the canvas in places, one eye was missing and the other badly scratched. A wave of affection warmed his heart.  It don’t matter if you’re tatty, I’ll always love you. Joshua could account for every stain, every bald patch a memory of adventures together. Bear had always been there for him, a bundle of soft, huggable safety in a big, scary world.
Gran squeezed his arm. ‘You were inseparable. Do you remember how your Mum made him that waistcoat so that he wouldn’t get lost at Nursery School?’
Josh fingered the grubby waistcoat that once had been creamy calico. He dimly remembered Mum with Bear beside her on the sofa, chewing her lip as she drew around him. It had seemed like magic when she transformed a piece of flat fabric into a waistcoat, sewn with tiny stitches, finished with little leather buttons.
‘Bear wore a name tag like me.’ He murmured then bit his tongue on the words he wanted to say. Mum cared about me then. Not like now with the baby making her poorly.
A silvery tear quivered on the tip of Joshua’s nose, silently stretching into nothingness until he swatted it with the back of his hand. He sniffed. Gran folded him more tightly against her until her cardigan tickled his cheek. Josh snuggled closer, breathing in the smell of fabric conditioner and freshly ironed clothes he always associated with Gran.
Mum hasn’t hugged me for ages.’ He buried his face in Bear to fight the yawning loneliness.
Gran whispered. ‘Your Mum is doing her best, dear.’
Josh nodded. ‘But she’s not the same….’
What he wanted to say was that he ached for Mum how she used to be, the Mum who wriggled her fingers like tentacles to beckon him over for a cuddle. He longed for her to notice him, to smile and say how special he was. Only she didn’t any more, not for ages. It’s all my fault. If I been better behaved… hadn’t torn my school trousers… if only that foot ball hadn’t broken the window… then she wouldn’t need a new baby to love and she wouldn’t be so tired.
‘I know things are difficult just now, my dear, but she does love you very much.’
Suddenly he couldn’t hold the words in any longer, his emotions tumbling out in a rush. ‘I wish she’d come to football training again. It’s been ages and the last time Mum stared into space as if she was really bored.’ He lowered his eyes and sniffed. ‘I know I didn’t play very well.’
‘Dearest, it’s not about you being good, or bad. It’s just your mum has a lot on her mind.’
‘Is that why she’s so grumpy?’ He searched his Gran’s face for answers. Testing her.
‘She’s tired, my darling.’
‘I try to help; but she gets cross. I brought her breakfast on a tray but she shouted at me for spilling the milk.’
‘She’s not been herself.’
‘I know. She feels sick all the time.’ Joshua nearly added that he understood why Mum had started wearing baggy T shirts and complained her clothes didn’t fit anymore.  His best friend Ben had explained everything. Ben had said that his Mum had got fat, grumpy and tired when she was expecting his little sister. Why don’t the grown ups just tell me the truth?
‘You do know your Mum loves you?’
‘But she went without even saying goodbye.’ A dam burst. ‘I don’t matter to her, not now she’s growing a baby.’
‘Oh sweetheart, is that what you think?’ A look of pain shot across Gran’s kind blue eyes.
‘Ben says it will get worse when the baby’s born…it’ll cry all night…’
Gran took a deep breath. ‘I’m so sorry. We should have told you before this.’
Josh nodded, his face pressed against Bear. ‘It’s all right. I know she won’t have time for me when it arrives but I’m can look after myself.’
‘Joshua dear, please forgive us.’ Gran stroked his arm. ‘We didn’t know what to say for the best, we were trying to protect you. But clearly we were wrong. Darling, your Mum isn’t having a baby.’
A glimmer of hope flared in Joshua’s heart, then flickered and died. An alternative truth presented itself and it frightened him. ‘Then why is she in hospital?’
‘Sweetheart, your Mum needs a doctor to take care of her for a while.’
‘She’s ill?’ Joshua’s voice trembled, his eyes wide with alarm.
‘Mum will get better but she has something called depression.’
Josh searched his Gran’s face. ‘What’s that?’
Gran looked thoughtful. ‘It means that Mum loves you very much, only she feels sad a lot of the time.’
He considered her words carefully. ‘Was it something I did?’
Gran’s face creased. ‘No sweetheart, absolutely not. It’s you that give her the strength to carry one. It’s because of you that she wants to get better.’
Neither spoke. Joshua’s mind spun.
‘Then she does still love me?’ He lips quivered into a wobbly smile; sunshine breaking through cloud.
‘Of course.’ Gran squeezed his hand. ‘Not only does she love you, but she needs you. No one makes her laugh like you. That’s why she’s decided to go into hospital just now, because she wants to be happy and have good times together like you used to. They will help her in hospital. And until then I’ll come every day after school to be with you and Dad.’
Joshua sat still as his Gran’s words sank in. He squeezed Bear tight, closing his eyes, feeling his scratchy fur against his cheek. How could he have forgotten that Bear always helped?
‘When I fell off the top bunk Bear stopped my wrist hurting.’ Joshua looked up slowly and smiled at Gran. ‘And when I had chicken pox he made me feel better.’
Joshua held teddy, lifting him high to plant a kiss on his threadbare nose.  ‘And that’s why I want Mum to have Bear in hospital.’
‘Darling?’
Joshua grinned, eyes bright as a weight lifted. He wanted to help and the answer was staring him in the face.
‘When I’m sad Bear makes me happy again…he’s much better than yucky medicines…I just know he’ll help Mum get well soon.’
‘Young man, what a good idea! With you and Bear on her side, I can see her smiling already….’ 
 
 
-End-
 

 

 

       Web Site: Grace Elliot - great historical romance

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