Abigail started to think about life outside the shop a lot. At night she sat on the shelf at the side of the window, behind the big box of dinosaurs, looking out onto the street and watching the cars drive by with their bright yellow headlights. Sometimes people, big and small, walked by. But she never saw any bears. Not one. Every night she went to see the line of blonde, brown, black and polar bears on the shelf, but they still didn’t move. Not once, not even when she pushed their faces really hard. Or when she pulled their ears. It was very annoying. The more Abigail thought about it, the more it became clear that other bears like her didn’t live in a shop. They lived outside, she could feel it in her paws. It was time to go and look for them. But to leave the shop she had to have a plan. And a bear with a plan had to be organised.
Over the next few days, Abigail lay in her hidey hole behind the jigsaw, watching the people in the aisles. Most of them had coats or jumpers on and some carried bags. She wasn’t sure what was in the bags, it was probably all the things they owned and some food as well. They often bought a sandwich or a cake in the cafe and didn’t always eat it straight away. It was clear to her that she would need a much bigger bag than her string one to put things in. She didn’t need a coat, she had fur. She also thought really hard about how to get out before the door was locked at night. The best time was probably just as the lights went off. It would be almost dark outside and no one would notice a small bear running along the pavement, she was sure of it.
Abigail did worry a bit about leaving. What exactly would a bear need outside? She was going to take everything she had. Her crystal beads, the white box, string bag, cushion, cover and her christmas tree, but what else would be useful? As she padded down the aisles that night she inspected the shelves. Soon she had a ball of green string, some glue and a torch. Picking up a bag of blue marbles she rolled them through her paws. They were smooth and shiny, she was sure they would be useful so she added them in. Although her fur was thick she picked up a warm orange scarf, she wasn’t really sure how cold it would be. Now for the bag. Abigail had seen the perfect thing delivered just the other day. They’d been put in a big box labelled ‘beach bags’ right on the top shelf. She didn’t know what a beach was, but the bags were brightly coloured and stripy. Clambering onto a vase of dried flowers she pulled herself up carefully. The flowers made a crackling sound and bit broke off and stuck in her fur. Brushing at it with one paw she stretched up high and dipped the other paw into the box, trying to catch a bag with her claws. The box wobbled. Abigail pulled away but too late! Suddenly she was flying through the air as with a loud crash the box landed upside down on the floor followed by a cascade of dried flowers. Blue and yellow beach bags flew in every direction and she shook herself crossly. But at least the bags were down and clambering to her paws she picked a blue one up and shook it out. It was huge! Exactly what she wanted. Guiltily she glanced at the mess on the floor, there was nothing she could do about that. Boxes and flowers fell down all the time. She was sure of it.
That night Abigail found it hard to sleep. As soon as it began to get light, she pushed aside the cover and brushed her paws through her warm fur impatiently. Moving the jigsaw aside she pushed her cushion off the shelf and it landed on the floor with a thump. Gathering up all of her other things, she wrapped them in her cover and climbed carefully down the shelves. Laying everything out on the floor she started to pack. It was hard to get everything in the beach bag even though it was so big. It was taller than she was. The pink tree stuck out of the top a bit and the lights kept flashing on and off but she pulled the cover over it as best as she could. All she needed to collect now was some food. Glancing back up at her hidey hole she looked down at the bag doubtfully, it wouldn’t fit up there and she couldn’t climb back up with it anyway. She’d have to hide it somewhere until tonight. The cafe was quiet, the fridge humming in the background. Climbing up onto the worktop she learnt round and opened the fridge door, taking out some cheese. She’d eat some now and wrap the rest up. There was a tray of chocolate cakes and Abigail helped herself to two, she needed to build up her strength. Licking her sticky paws, she wrapped up another three, there were lots there. Her nose twitched, banana cake, she loved banana cake and she reached out again. Perhaps just a piece for lunch tomorrow. She looked down at the food. What if she couldn’t find any other bears? What was she going to eat, was this enough? Pushing the thought from her mind but picking up another piece of banana cake Abigail started to look for a place to hide her bag.
The day seemed to go on forever. First the owner arrived, who looked in confusion at the mess on the floor. Then a few customers came in, sitting down at the tables for breakfast and coffee. A group of children followed, running up and down the aisles. Abigail watched them all from the top shelf, glancing over to the back of the shop where her beach bag sat in the corner under a shelf, she hoped no one would notice it. Her red car she loved so much was still hidden behind the others. She wished she could take it with her. Looking over at the beach bag she sighed sadly. It wouldn’t fit. But when she found the other bears, perhaps she could come back for it. It felt like it was her car.
Finally, the last of the customers left. Turning off the overhead light with a click, the owner disappeared into the office. It was time to go, she didn’t have long before the door would be locked. Her hidey hole felt very empty as she glanced around it for one last time. Then swallowing hard, she pushed the jigsaw box to the side and climbed quickly down the shelves. Pulling her bag from under the shelf, she hurried to the corner, pulling it along the floor behind her. It really was a bit big. In her haste she knocked over a box of beads and they rolled with a loud rattle out onto the floor. Looping the bag over her paws, she staggered as fast as she could down the aisle towards the window. Panting, she ducked down behind the big plastic dinosaur.
The door to the office opened and the light went off. The shop was completely dark. Abigail held her breath. She could hear the owner fumble for the keys. Abigail crept out towards the door. Her paws didn’t make a sound. As she pulled the beach bag along behind her, the marbles suddenly clattered together. Her hand on the door, the owner paused and glanced back into the shop. Abigail froze. Then a waft of cold air blew back the fur from her face. The door was open! With all her courage Abigail ran, her bag bumping and scraping the ground behind her. There was a startled scream but she ran as fast as her paws would go. Over the doorstep and down onto the cold pavement. Panting hard she ran down the street. She’d done it. She was outside!