The Memoirist
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The Memoirist

This is a story about a Magic Wish Bear

Image by author (Agnes)

I’ve been told that I started talking really early, and before that started gabbing earlier still. Apparently, people were surprised when I talked. They would turn to my mother and ask “but how old is she?”

I believe it because ever since I can remember, I’ve been a talker. I was always talking. I was always telling stories.

This would come in very handy when I changed schools and could join conversations with people I didn’t know and fit in long enough to pretend I was part of the group. It would come in handy at work events where I could strike up conversations with people I had never met and at first dates and second dates and lots of other typically awkward conversations. With time, I would learn I had the ability to put people (more) at ease with words, sometimes to connect briefly, sometimes for a lot longer.

Somewhere in between my family clapping for every new word I spoke aloud and my semi-adult-self realizing my talking “skills” were a good thing to have, there were a few school years when I got told off quite a bit for talking in class. What was cute as a preschooler became slightly problematic in primary school, where teachers were always asking me to be quiet.

This is not a story about how I talk too much. This is a story about a magic wish bear; just bear with me (pun intended).

I loved talking, but I also hated getting in trouble.

I remember laying in bed at night, giving thanks for family and our house and my school and my friends, and then praying to be good, not quarrel with my brothers, talk less in class. Whatever higher power might have been listening must not have found it very problematic whether I talked or not: I still talked and got told off a lot. And then, when I was about seven or eight years old, I became friends with Euge.

Euge was the youngest of four sisters. She was shy and sweet, and the proud owner of a Magic Wish Bear. It was a little teddy bear, big enough to hug, small enough to be hidden under our desk or in her backpack.

Hard as I try, I can no longer remember what the bear was called, but I do remember Euge’s quiet words, big eyes, and serious nod when she first told me… that the bear was magic because if you made a wish, the bear granted it.

I was a little skeptical but also eager to believe. Naturally. Euge, sweet as she was, gave me the bear and told me to make a wish. I did. I wished to be quieter. And you know what? That day, I was!

I was a model student the next day too. I was so good at not talking when we were not allowed to talk that, at the end of that week, I was the lucky recipient of the little prize the teacher bestowed on a weekly basis to the student who had behaved particularly well. The teacher even made some comments about how good I’d been at being quiet. Euge and I beamed.

“The magic bear worked,” Euge said, or something to that effect.
And I nodded. I nodded, and believed. The award came with a chocolate bar we shared. We were both convinced that I’d gotten it because of Euge’s bear. Now you may be laughing and thinking: ok, what did you wish for next, having found such a powerful magical item?

It’s been a while, and I don’t recall how we picked which things to ask the bear for. But here is the crazy thing: looking back, we never wished for big things. In truth, they were always things that were more or less within our reach.

I think we wanted to believe in the bear, more than we wanted heaps of candy, seeing fairies, learning to fly, or whatever it is that seven-year-old girls want.

When I started writing this, I wasn’t sure which way to take it. What was it, really, about the Magic Wish Bear that made it so memorable? Why was I thinking about this now, so many years later? And I keep coming back to this: we wanted to believe in the bear more than we wanted anything else.

We could have asked for something impossible, but we didn’t. Knowingly or unknowingly, who can tell so many years later, we only asked the bear for things that were in the realm of possibility. And with the bear on our side, it wasn’t just possible, it was real. We made it real.

I remember asking it to see a rainbow once. There was no “real” rainbow, at least not a rainbow in the sky. However, when we opened the cabinet with the books at the back of the class, we saw that they had been organized by color. A paper rainbow right in front of our eyes. Ta-da.

I told you it was a story about a bear, but maybe there’s a little more to it than that. How much of getting what we want is believing that we can? Maybe once we believe it, whatever it is, we don’t stop looking till we find it. Do I still believe in the Magic Wish Bear? I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t turn it down.

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Agnes

Agnes

Slow runner, fast walker. I have dreamed in different languages. I read a lot. Yes, my curls are real.