Prompt: Describe an item you were incredibly attached to as a child. What became of it?
I don’t know where they came from. In my memory, they were always there, next to me at night, in bed. The large panda, black and white, oozing its stuffing, growing sparser every night, leaving tufts of cotton-ball like material on the bed; and the smaller, brown bear with the music box in its back: a music box that I never remember hear play; a hard, metal, silent reminder of better days.
Were they diminished by having no past? Would they have lasted longer if I’d remembered on what birthday they’d appeared? Or were they were always doomed by my mother’s question: “Do you want me to keep sewing them up?” Yes! Keep sewing them up–keep breathing cotton-filling life back into them every morning and laying them on the other pillow by every night.
I knew they weren’t protection from the terrors of falling asleep, but they were company–fellow travellers into the darkness.
The night was filled with spectres, with looming dangers–with the logical outcome of the prayer that I had been taught to say: “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray to lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I awake, I pray the lord my soul to take.” Nothing about that prayer was reassuring–the prospect of a mid-night death, of my soul being swept away to only god-knew-where, of a lord that could let that happen: none of that calmed me when I closed my eyes.
And Dad’s ritualistic call up the stairs: “Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” Who thinks of something like that to tell a child as he is getting into bed? What bed bugs? How fierce is their bite? How fatal?
And the attic door in the hallway, illuminated by the hallway light–the attic doorway that I could see from my bed and that led upw into the part of the house where no one ever went–the door that separated me from the creature that would, once I closed my eyes, slowly emerge from the cobwebby attic, lifting the attic door, creeping downward into the house. THAT door.
And who did I have to share those terrors with me? The two bears. The large panda and the small music-box brown bear. The bears that, without a beginning in my memory, were hurtling toward their stuffing-less end.