A young child becomes attached to a stuffed animal. When the stuffed animal mysteriously disappears, the child is heartbroken as it was his only friend. Being deeply saddened, the child must now learn to make new friends, yet will he learn to love his new friends?
There was a bunny that I liked. It was bigger and taller than me, but I was a little child compared to my stuffed bunny. All that mattered was that he was soft, he was squeezable, and he was my friend.
Mommy and daddy bought their first house, and my siblings and I were paired up to share rooms. I told Little Bunny I would share my half with him. Tomorrow, we were moving into our family home and it was my first day of second grade.
When school let out, I went to play with Little Bunny, but I couldn’t find him. I went on all fours like I used to do not that long ago and crawled on the green carpet to search for him under the bed. Then I climbed on my bed and searched under the covers, but he was not there either. I looked in the closet and he was not there.
I searched all over my small room but he was gone. I asked my mommy if the bunny could come to life. Maybe it would come back to me. But she said no. “Then how is it he is missing?” I asked. Mommy did not reply. She had more important things on her mind.
Daddy, too, was busy. My siblings played with their toys. No one seemed concerned for my bunny. Didn’t they care? He was my friend. I had to find him.
I checked outside to see if I had left him in the cold, but the porch was clear. I checked the garage to see if he had been left behind by accident, but no, I would not have left him alone. I checked the cabinets, but he was not hiding. So I searched room to room, asking if anyone knew where Little Bunny went, but no one knew.
Seeing my parents together in the kitchen, I told them, “He must be lost. How do I find my bunny? He is gone.”
“What do you want us to do, sweetie?”
“Can the police help? They can go and search for him.”
“The police will not help with stuffed toys, since he is not real.”
“But he is real to me. He is more than a stuffed animal!” I didn’t have many friends at school, but I knew I always had one when I returned home. I could hold him and squeeze him, and because he was bigger than me, he could protect me.
I went to school the next day, but I didn’t feel good. I looked around, but the kids didn’t have big ears. They didn’t have a big smile on their face. Later, after school, I searched again but couldn’t find him. The week passed and I still felt lonely. The emptiness continued and I just gave into it since I could not fight it. If I couldn’t have Little Bunny to hold, what was the point of going to school? I didn’t need any friends.
As years passed by, I was still in grade school when I heard my bunny had been thrown away. Daddy said it happened on accident as we moved from one home to another. My longing ate away inside me. After that, I never cared for the affection of stuffed animals. I never wanted one again, ever.
As I grew, I despised anyone who had a stuffed animal. I didn’t want them to be happy. They should suffer just as I had to. I secretly ripped their stuffies at the seam in the neck, in the back, wherever it was easier to tear so they would be ruined.
One day the schoolchildren found out it was me. I told them an animal must have come in and ravaged it. But it was clear to them, I was the animal. I was the one who wanted to destroy their stuffie that they clung to so dearly.
The teachers were shocked by my behavior. As they scolded me, they were stunned when I told them, “At least I didn’t throw them away!”
They immediately took me to the principal and requested that I be sent home.
“You can’t do that. They’re just stuffed animals. They’re not real.”
“Until you learn manners to treat people and their property with respect, you shouldn’t be here”, replied the principal who continued to say, “We are concerned that with your violence, you would do the same to the kids.”
“They are real”, I protested.
“Their stuffed animals belong to them, and they are real to them. Have you never owned one?”
“I should have thrown them away”, I said to myself quietly.
“What’s that?” my homeroom asked.
I said, “I should have let them play.”
When I was sent home, I was further scolded by my parents. The next day, I had to apologize to my classmates and my teacher, and explain to them why stuffed animals deserved to be treated with care. I was furious. I hated stuffies now more than ever.
As another school year went by, I was in my fifth year in elementary school. I began to tell the schoolchildren that stuffed toys were for babies who were thumb suckers. It began to work. By taking away their happiness, I became happier until there was stuffed animal day.
It was a new idea that the school wanted to celebrate. In the days leading up to the event, students and teachers posted signs and pictures of pets, animals, nature, and anything else that could be stuffed. I, however, secretly tore down the posters after school.
The next day, I hurried to put on my clothes and go to school to see the posters on the floor. But to my amazement, for each one that I had torn down, three or four posters had taken their place. “Someone must love them as much as I hate them”, I said to myself.
Posters and pictures displayed stuffies everywhere. As I entered my classroom, there was a poster taped on my desk. I looked at the other desks, but mine was the only one. Maybe it was because other students had brought their stuffed animals to class, and I had refused to do so.
When school let out again, I was ready for more shredding. Though I didn’t want to do it, I just couldn’t control myself. With my homeroom hallway clear of all the posters, I then entered the main corridor where several teachers and students had gathered together. They were the ones who spent all that time in the mornings taking pictures and creating posters.
Since I couldn’t move, they began to walk toward me. “Don’t you like animals? Why can’t you be happy?” they asked me.
I remained speechless, as I dropped the torn posters from my hands. I was already thinking of detention for the next week or two. Maybe they’d be nice and just give me one week if I said I was sorry and frowned, even though it was a smile.
“Is there something we can do for you?” the teachers asked. “Maybe he’s never had one”, a student said to her teacher. “He’d probably just tear it apart like these posters”, another child added.
Stuffed animal day was tomorrow and I didn’t want anyone to be happy. What was I supposed to do? I turned around and walked away. My heart was in pain, but I didn’t know why. The next day I woke up exhausted. I tried to stay home from going to school, but mommy wouldn’t let me.
At school, everyone was celebrating and laughing. They took turns sharing each other’s stuffed animals, holding it, and kissing it. My stomach felt sick with what they called butterflies. I asked my science teacher what could calm butterflies, she asked me why with a curious look. I refused to answer. When recess arrived there were stuffed toys all over the playground. I just wanted this day to end.
I was happy to return to my homeroom and work on my assignment. My pencil snapped when I heard my name on the intercom. It couldn’t have been. Sure enough I heard it again. Maybe the principal decided to give me detention for ripping the posters? Or maybe they wanted to announce to everyone what I had done. I began to slide back in my chair tilting my head down as if I were reading my assignment.
The announcement continued, “You are the winner of this year’s stuffed animal contest.” But I had not been nominated for doing anything. I didn’t submit a picture of me with a stuffed animal. How could this be? I tried to ignore it by getting me another pencil from my schoolbag.
The homeroom teacher was excited because it was one of her students. “That’s you”, she smiled. The other students began to cheer while I remained silent. I tried to focus on my schoolwork when I heard knocking on the door.
The teacher opened the classroom door, but there was no one in sight except a large gift-wrapped package in the hallway.
“Aren’t you going to open it?” my teacher asked.
I went to grab the stool along the wall, while my teacher dragged the gift-wrapped box into her classroom. I surprised myself at how fast my pace was.
Standing on the stool, I unraveled the wrapping while my classmates watched with anticipation. Upon opening the box my eyes were stunned by all the stuffed animals inside. I felt wet spots on them as if they were crying. Maybe they were the leftovers that no one wanted. I stretched my arm briefly across my eyes.
Out in the hallway appeared the same students and teachers who caught me tearing down the posters. I looked inside the box and jumped in. Swimming and flying through all the stuffed animals. I held them close to make sure they knew they were not alone.
I then stretched upward with such joy that many of the stuffies began to fly. My classmates jumped up to catch one or chase one down. There were plenty for everyone. As I swam among my new friends, I began to feel something. Though I didn’t see Little Bunny I had him all along.
In my heart there is love.
Keith Yrisarri Stateson
© 4Jul2021 1st Publication Keith Yrisarri Stateson
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