Abigail always knew that something was different about her. She felt it from the pink pads of her paws, right through to the curls of blonde fur on her ears. She hadn’t always felt like this. In fact she couldn’t remember feeling much at all but then in a hazy, strange way, she became aware of a tingling in her paws, a twitching of her nose.
That must be how it happened, how bears came alive, but none of the others seemed to be doing anything of the sort. They just sat there on the shelves. Stuffed. Not moving. Not saying anything. With a sigh Abigail clambered up onto her paws and pushed back the curtain to her hidey hole. She was bored. Bored by living in a shop full of plastic flowers, toys and books that no one seemed to buy. And much too bored to sleep on the back of a shelf even if she had found a few things to make it into a comfortable den. Once she’d became aware of where she was, she’d explored everywhere she could, finally climbing right up onto the top shelf where she’d found a hole in the wall behind a large jigsaw of a river to hide in. The jigsaw rattled a bit but once she’d squeezed in, the space behind was quite big and she’d pulled in a soft red cushion to use as a bed, with a small blue tablecloth for a cover. A pipe carrying hot water ran along the top by her head and as well as keeping her warm it made a handy shelf. Along it she laid her favourite things. A string bag, some shiny crystal beads and a white box to keep things in. Abigail didn’t actually have any things to keep in it, but she felt it might come in handy as you never knew when you might have things. In the corner was a tiny pink christmas tree with bright fairy lights. When she was curled up inside, she felt safe and warm. She could also just see out into the shop, the dim orange night lights reflecting back over her. At least in here there was no danger anyone would try to buy her like the other bears. And yet.. Abigail felt unsettled. Surely there was more to a bears life than this.
During the day only one corner of the shop ever seemed busy. Five tables, set with green and white tablecloths with lots of small red chairs. Tea, coffee, cakes and sandwiches were served all day. Abigail watched from her shelf as a stream of people came in, chattering and dropping crumbs all over the floor. Abigail always wrinkled her nose when she saw that. She didn’t like mess. She was a very soft bear and crumbs stuck to her paws. She was however very partial to an expresso and there was a big silver coffee maker on the shelf. She would be partial to a cappacinno too she was sure, but annoyingly her paws couldn’t manage the shiny silver nozzle which fizzed with steam. She had tried once but it was hard to turn off and the shop went very misty. And she hated getting her fur damp. It made it go frizzy.
Abigail sat behind the jigsaw all day, until finally the last person left the shop. The lights clicked off and she heard the rattle of the key in the door. The shelves were dimly lit and only the small round lights in the window were on. She avoided the window. Somehow she felt it wouldn’t be right for people to see a small blonde bear wandering around. Especially as she seemed to be the only bear that could wander. Clambering down the shelves onto the floor she padded hopefully over to the other bears. There they sat stiffly in a row, blonde bears a bit like her, brown bears, black bears, polar bears. Sitting there just like they did every night. With a paw she reached out and prodded one, hard. Nothing. It just sat there. Silent and stuffed and stupid. Still no sign that any other bear was ever going to wake up.
With a huff, she turned back towards the tables. No use worrying, she told herself and she was hungry. It was hard not eating all day although sometimes she did smuggle some food up to her shelf. But it did leave a trail of crumbs. Behind the counter was a big fridge and climbing up onto the door she pushed down hard on the handle. Some cheese would be just the thing. With tomato. She laid out two slices of bread on a small plate and taking out some lumps of cheese pressed it down onto them. It was hard to make dinner with paws. Clambering up onto the counter Abigail put the plate down beside her with a clunk. The shop was so quiet when no one was in it. Perhaps she should take her car out. She loved driving. Licking the last of the cheese from her whiskers she carefully brushed the crumbs off of her fur and put everything away. Clambering down she padded purposefully to the back of the shop. There it was! Her car, bright red with a black stripe. It even sounded bear like. Furrari. Hauling it out with an effort, she clambered on top and picked up the control box. Gripping the black lever she pushed it forward. The car’s engine started and bright headlights flickered down the aisle. With a roar it leapt forward. The first turn was around a box of blue plastic balls and with an expert flick of her paws Abigail span the car around it easily. The next aisle was flat and straight and Abigail pushed the control lever forward hard, she loved to go fast. Fur blowing back from her face, she accelerated towards the window and leaning to the left, pulled back on the control stick and flew around the corner and up the next aisle. As she sped past the other silent bears she glanced quickly up at them. Still nothing.
After a while she slowed and bought the car to a stop and climbing down pushed it amongst the others, hiding it at the back. Occasionally people came in and bought things other than coffee and cakes and she didn’t want it to be sold, it was such a lovely red colour.
Running her paws through a box of wooden beads, Abigail padded towards the front of the shop, pulling herself up onto the lowest shelf and sitting down with a thump behind the plastic dinosaurs. From here she could look out of the window without being seen, the streetlights shining onto a grey pavement. Wrinkling her nose she stared out into the darkness. What was it was like out there? Where did the people in the shop go at night? What if… she paused thoughtfully. What if other bears like her were out there? Perhaps those that were alive didn’t live in a shop at all. Sliding down, she made her way back towards her hidey hole, pulling down a tasty looking cake from a plate as she passed. Squeezing behind the jigsaw she put the cake down and shook out her cushion, settling down with a sigh. Wrapping the cover up around her, she started to eat the squidgy lumps of icing on top of the cake without really tasting it. Licking her lips she shook out her cover. Perhaps that’s what she had to do. Perhaps she had to go outside…