Afternoon

A bedtime story.

There were not very many things that B wanted in life. He often spent his days sitting on the windowsill, with sunshine resting peacefully upon the tops of his furry head and arms. He liked to be alone with his thoughts — although the button-eyed cat curled up on the bed below made too much noise sometimes. During these moments, he would sit up and stare very hard at her, as if he could stop her meowing by sheer force of will. It never worked, of course. But he was a simple bear with solid hopes.

And what was B’s biggest hope? This question occupied more than one quiet afternoon, but maybe his head was just too full of fluff. Even twiddling his soft paws didn’t help very much. He decided to write a list, because, say, by Tuesday morning he’d quite forgotten what he’d come up with on Sunday.

Afternoon of golden honey: “I hope I’ll get a new ribbon today. Maybe blue.”

Afternoon of blooming carnations: “I hope tomorrow will be as nice as today.”

Afternoon of apple juice stains: “I hope Oliver will come back and wash me soon. I’m getting sticky.”

Afternoon of pitter-patter: “I hope my boy won’t catch a cold from the rain.”

Afternoon of big hugs: “I hope I will always be loved as much as this.”

Here B stopped, staring at the last item on the list. He tried to imagine years without wet kisses and warm snuggles (Oliver called them “bear hugs”); months without toy swords and fake but real adventures; weeks without picture books and large, roaring dinosaurs; days without him. The thought was too much to bear, so B promptly scribbled a small star next to the hope and settled back until night fell.

His last thought before drifting off to sleep was, “I hope Oliver will always know that I love him as much as this.”

Outside, the stars twinkled in response.