Dad’s D-19

When the boy left his bedroom that morning, the panda bear on his bed sat up and looked around at the stuffing spread out across the pillow and sheets.  Almost immediately, the little brown bear also raised itself up into a sitting position. “My god, you look awful,” the little brown bear said.

“I know. I’m pathetic,” said the panda bear.

“There’s stuffing everywhere.  The boy’s mother isn’t going to keep sewing you back together if you keep this up.”

“I know.  I know.  The boy sleeps like a madman, and every time he turns or moves his arms around, and I’m in the way, more of me comes out.”

“I don’t think his mother is sewing you up as much as she could.  I think if she wanted, she would take more time with your seams and you wouldn’t be popping open every night like a balloon.”

“You think she’s going to get rid of me?”

“Not just you–if you go, I go too.”

“You’re not losing your stuffing.”

“There’s nothing in me to lose except my music box, and that hasn’t worked for years.”

The panda bear scooped for a moment at the stuffing that had come out of him during the night, but with his paw hands and his stubby arms, all he could do was create a drift of ragged cotton around his legs and bottom.  “It’s hopeless,” he said.  “She’s going to come in here and find me like this and shake her head the way she does.  And she’ll put half of me back inside but the other half will go in the waste basket.  I’m like melting snow.  I’m just disappearing.”

“At least she spends a few minutes with you.  Once a week, maybe, she actually looks at me.  Did you see what she did yesterday?”

“She shook you.”

“Yes!  She shook me.  Like she expected that after years of not working, my music box is going to suddenly start playing tunes again.  I feel like she’s going to toss me in the waste basket with your stuffing if I don’t manage to cough out a couple notes pretty soon.”

“I understand,” the panda bear said, “and what’s so unfair is that she wouldn’t do that to other things of the boy’s–she wouldn’t do that to his parakeet if it stopped singing.”

“No.  Never.  She knows that his parakeet has feelings.  Maybe it even has a parakeet soul.  It’s not like a toaster or a radio that has to work the same way as when it was new or it’s thrown away.”

“That’s what she treats us like.  Like soul-less appliances.”

“We have at least as much of a soul as a parakeet,” the little brown bear said, “. . . don’t we?”

“Don’t we what?”

“Have a soul?”

“Maybe.  I mean, I never thought about it before.”

“Think about it now.”

“Okay,” the panda bear said, and he sat on the bed with one of his paws stirring distractedly through the cotton stuffing lying against his bottom.  Finally, while the brown bear was in the middle of trying to adjust its music box so it wasn’t quite so jammed under his right arm, the panda said, “Yes, we do.  A soul isn’t something that can be weighed like cotton or that plays music when you shake it–the soul can’t be seen or heard or measured that way.  It’s what the boy does every night when he comes to bed and lays us in the same place and then reaches out, when the lights go off, to make sure we are where we are supposed to be.  That puts the soul in us even if my stuffing comes out and your music box is silent.”

“That’s what our soul is?”

“I think so.”

“That’s nice.”

“I think so.”

“Just the same,” the little brown bear said, “I wouldn’t mind if my music box played a tune every now and then.,”

“I understand,” the panda bear said, looking down at the stuffing gathered around his legs and bottom.

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