I came up with a fragment for a story I've been working on, resurrected from the very first story I ever wrote when I was eleven years old. It's called 'Wind Me Up, One More Time'. Thank you, Paula, for inspiring me to move forward in this tale after neglecting it for too long!
The birds were singing in the trees, only it was getting competitive. One kept trying to outsing the others.
“Prettier! Smarter! Has better feathers!” he trilled to any and all females who’d listen. Once Grace had imagined the birds greeting the day, or reponding the breezes. Only Maia had spoiled it. Maia had told her sharply that the birds were warning each other to stay out of the trees.
Grace hadn’t liked that, but she couldn’t escape from Maia’s words. They crawled into her head, like an ugly slogan she couldn’t avoid.
Being her bear, I felt all the sadness, irritation that my human child did. I wished I could comfort her.
Grace cuddled me a little closer. Perhaps my wish had reached her imagination.
The birdsong changed. Some of them were joining in one song.
“Don’t mark the grave! It’s unlucky! Stay away!”
“The grave?” Grace asked. Still hugging me tightly to her chest, she approached the old monument, a statue of metal and wire.
I peeked over Grace’s shoulder. My child willed it, so my button eyes could see. This was the statue where Maia had met Nathalie, so long ago.
“I wouldn’t approach, if I were you.”
Grace and I both started at the sharp, feminine voice. It was a bit like Maia’s, but it lacked the angry impatience hers had gained, since she became Iama the Terrible. We both looked down.
A rabbit was sitting at the base of the statue, a plush rabbit. No one, but another stuffed animal could see her twitching her whiskers. Grace might be able to see it, if she allowed me to touch her imagination. I wasn’t sure. This rabbit was sitting up, alert and ready to scamper into Grace’s daydreams at the slightest sight of an invitation. I wondered how long it had been since her child had even thought of her.
“Here lies the heart of my precious one,” the rabbit said solemnly. “She left it behind when she became Iama the Terrible.”
Grace was more than willing to let this other toy take part in the on going story she and I played out. I recognized the rabbit…she’d been a gift. Nathalie had given her to Maia, just as she’d given me to Grace.
“Grace, let me down,” I said. “I need to talk to her, stuffed animal to stuffed animal.”
My human set down with especially care, not to putting me below the rabbit, but on the same base, next to her. The bunny had to twist a bit to look at me. I might have smiled, if my muzzle had been capable of it, but I wasn’t a petty bear. Besides, the fate of Maia’s former toy might eventually be my own. Children grew up and put away their playthings. When they did, they took their imagination, their animating force away with them. It was possible for a toy’s spirit to move on, to reincarnate in a doll or a model with another child, but we would no longer be the same. I wouldn’t be Theodora Bear, when it happened. This rabbit was starting to flop from Maia’s absence. She’d reanimated a bit with Grace’s presence, but Grace wasn’t really her human. Not like Maia had been.