Toy Home. Page 2 of 12
“I think I’d be scared to be lost,” the little bear said.
“Just like a bear!” the clown snorted. “What’s there to be scared of? Different people pick you up, move you around...I got picked up by one little girl who put me on a train seat and then left me there, and I got to see a lot of the countryside before some man in blue picked me up and tossed my in a basket, where somebody else picked me up and took me to a different house for a while, and then...” The clown voice stopped for a minute. “...I ended up here.”
“But where is here?” At last the bear could ask his burning question.
“Don’t you know anything, dearie?” the witch cackled. “This is the Toy Home! It’s where toys end up when their people are through with them. They play with you for a while and then forget all about you. Then, if you’re lucky, they bring you here, where you sit on a shelf like this for a while, until somebody else comes along and picks you up. And off you go, and it starts all over again.”
“What happens if you’re not lucky?” the little bear asked.
“Well...” The witch sounded like she didn’t want to continue.
“It’s like this,” the clown rasped: “Remember how when your little kid stopped playing with you, you sat in a box and got sleepier and sleepier? That’s what happens to toys when they’re not wanted. Worst of all is when they throw you away, which is what happens when you don’t get lucky. Then, if you can land on the street, get picked up once in a while, like I was, you’ll stay awake. Just like being picked up and brought here. That’s what woke you back up. ...Otherwise, you go back to sleep.”
“For how long?”
“For forever, dearie,” the witch said.
The little bear began to cry tearlessly. “B-but I don’t want to go to sleep forever,” he said.
“Ah, don’t be such a wimp,” the clown said: “And besides, it might not be forever, if you haven’t been too beat up or broken. And you never know when you might get picked up and brought here, to the Toy Home.”
“But I don’t like this place,” the little bear whimpered: “It’s dark, and the way you talk scares me!”
“About time you got scared a little,” the clown sneered: “Didya think it was gonna be one of your teddy-bear tea parties all your life? How’re you gonna learn how to live on the streets if you don’t toughen up a little? How many kind owners do you think”
“Oh, stop going on so!” It was a new voice this time, a low, strong and sweet voice. It came from somewhere low down and in front of the little bear.
He looked down. In the shadow of the shelf in front of him, resting on the floor, was a wooden rocking horse. Her large golden eye was fixed right at him. She had a painted red bridle and a brown saddle with only a couple of chips in it, and her body gleamed creamy white in the shadows, almost glowing. Her mane and tail were dark brown -- sepia -- and her legs were frozen in a gallop, attached to two rockers -- but one of the rockers was cracked.
“You need to be brave, little bear that’s true,” the rocking horse said, “but remember that the world has both good and bad in it, and toys have to take what comes their way, enjoying the good and waiting out the bad. You’re a handsome bear. You’ll be back in someone’s arms before long.”