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    riding with the sun, music and stories by david soubly

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  The Toy Home.                                                       Page 8 of 12
 

              The little bear spent a cold, dark and snowy night, but it didn’t really seem to matter.  He had lost the best toy friend he had ever had, and she had gone to the fate all toys dreaded the most:  to be thrown away.  He thought about what she had said:  “Set your heart to hope, and wish wisely!”  What did that matter now?  Here he was, on the street, a burned-up arm, two buttons missing, forgotten by everyone, not even -- not even noticed enough to be picked up and put in the trash!  He wondered how long he would lie there, passed by ... until rains and snows made him fall apart, perhaps, or until some big wheel squashed him.  What did it matter?

            The world seemed cold and grey, and then the grey became nothing as the bear went to sleep.

            Dawn light was barely filtering into the city streets when the little bear awoke.  He had felt something.  What was it?  He heard snuffling sounds, heard panting, felt hot moist breath nearby.  A dog!  The little bear looked in the direction of the panting.  A large, black dog!  What was the dog going to do?  Then all he saw were teeth, tongue, heard loud growly rumbling as the dog grabbed him by his unsinged shoulder and began to lift him.

            But he was stuck!  His left arm, his burned arm, had been lying in a puddle created by the water used to put out the fire.  The water had since frozen, gripping the edge of the little bear’s arm fast.  The dog growled, strengthened its grip, and shook its head.  There was a tearing sound, and the bear felt its arm coming off at the shoulder -- oh, help, rocking horse! -- and then he broke free and was shaken from side to side before being flung up, up, and then down, to land with a soft plop! on the sidewalk in front of the remains of the Toy Home.

            For a while he lay there, dazed and despairing.  He wondered what else could possibly happen that would be any worse than this.  Life on the streets!  He thought of the Punchinello clown, and how the clown had said how wonderful life on the streets was -- like a big adventure.  What a lie!  Something to keep spirits up, maybe, while waiting for better times.  The bear looked himself over.  Here he was, barely in one piece!  His left arm, though still attached, was ripped at the shoulder, and his stuffing had started to leak.  This was how life on the streets really was!

            And the clown was on his way to a warm and bright Christmas, too, while the bear and the rocking horse ... It just wasn’t fair!

            The little bear began to cry out of anger and fear.  But then, somewhere deep inside him, he felt a stirring that he couldn’t explain.  Hope it was, and more, and why it sprang up just now he would never understand.

            It began in a small way:  his voice -- or might it have been the rocking horse’s? -- saying, “Well, at least your arm is still attached.  But even if it wasn’t, do not give up hope!  Because it isn’t whether you’re all in one piece that matters, but what you give and share that matters most...”  The little bear felt the hugeness of the world, dull and cold and full of empty places.  “Yes, and there are also places of warmth and light, which are created, little bear, by love.  And all the more rare is the love created from nothing, from deep inside, that will create itself even from the depths of despair...”

            A small bright light reached the little bear’s eyes.  The wind had parted the clouds above, and in the narrow patch of sky between the city buildings, the little bear could see a single tiny star.

            He understood now.  Broken and burned, buttons missing, his stuffing leaking onto the cold cement, the little bear looked up at the star and -- he hoped -- wished wisely:

            “I wish, I wish that by a miracle the rocking horse, and all homeless toys,  will have a warm and bright Christmas!”

            Then, as if the wishing had overcome him, the little bear fell into a deep sleep.

***

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