(Sally: This story is okay for you to read. To everyone who read my last story, of which Sally had better not be one, This one is absolutely nothing like it, so don’t be afraid of reading on.)
Many of my friends, fans and followers know I have been working on a children’s novel for the past four or five years now. I believe I am currently 63,000 words into it and am about half way done. I may have slightly too much faith in my key demographic there. The idea of a sunflower being the reigning ruler over all plant life in a magical dimension where plants can talk, bears can fly and a scarecrow wants to destroy the entire universe was just too fun of an idea to not start on though. I go back to that manuscript every time I finish a story and reread it trying to figure out how to get to the conclusion I have in mind for book one (yes, I am planning a trilogy, like all great stories). Whenever I look over the draft I remember when I first came up with the idea for the story. Unlike most of the stories I write (including the one I am currently typing) where I come up with the idea while sitting in front of my computer with Word open and I start typing, hoping it turns into something I deem worthy of being viewed by eyes other than my own, I came up with this idea by living it, when I was a young kid, around 8 years old.
When I was a young lad, before my family left California, my grandmother gave me a very special gift. This gift is one of two things I still have in my possession that is older than most of my friends. This gift turned into my best friend, my security blanket and my inspiration from a young age. This gift was the only teddy bear I was ever given, or how I still tenderly and honestly refer to him, “Ted” (His real name, Seth McFarlane stole it from me)..
I don’t remember when I met Ted. He has been a part of my life as far back as my rather exceptional memory goes. I remember him being there when I was playing with my childhood friends Eric and Ace in Pasadena. He may not have been playing the games we were playing, but I remember him being there in the room with us, lying on the bed, patiently waiting for bedtime when his and my adventures would so grandly begin. I remember him being in the car with me as we drove across the country to our new home in Northern Virginia. I remember him as I grew up and moved from house to house in my youth, before my parents settled in the house they still live in today. Ted has always been there for me and now I present you with his story.
His backstory I am a little foggy on, but from what I have gathered over the many years he and I have been together is that before he came into my possession he was the ruler of a great land. He was engaged to a beautiful princess named Princess Calestopea. They were well loved in their magical world and the kingdom lived in a state of harmony. Then one day a scarecrow, who was obviously upset about being placed on a pole to watch over corn for all of eternity, escaped his position and decided it was time to take revenge on their world.
Now I am not sure what happened, but someway, somehow, Ted got banished from this world. He either made a deal to protect the world by being exiled, or there was a sort of framing that he took the blame for. Either way he wasn’t allowed to go back to this magical world.
Lucky for Ted though, when he got banished from this world he was given to me to watch after and protect until we could figure out a way to get him back to his own world. This became my mission as a young boy. I had to help this poor lost bear find his way back to his world. The adventures we would go on every night were adventures in which we tried so very hard to defeat the scarecrow that had taken control of his world so he would one day be allowed to rule again.
Obviously as a child you aren’t going to tell your school friends about the grand adventures you take every night with your teddy bear. They would endlessly make fun of you as you attempted to convince them you had spent the night before flying through the air engaged in a dogfight with two human sized crows who were doing nothing but trying to kill you. This was my burden I had to live with though. That was what he told me anyway. For his redemption and my self-preservation, secrets had to be kept from the people I considered my friends as a child. Ted was a sound and wise bear.
These adventures would happen almost nightly. Each adventure would wield new friends and enemies I had to be wary of, none of which were ever as important as my friend Ted. We knew a monkey named Howler, an underwater lizard named Peak and a sunflower named Reid. We reunited ever so quickly with Calestopea. Every time we got close to defeating the evil scarecrow, miraculously something would happen and we would lose right at the end, keeping Ted out of his world. I remember wishing I was better at helping him, but I wouldn’t give up until he was able to return.
For years we tried to get him home. For years we fought the scarecrow and his evil crow friends. At night, the lights would go out in the hallway, Ted would open his large brown eyes and ask me if I was ready, to which I always said yes. Together we would leave this world and battle our way into his, with the hopes he would one day be reunited with his love, Calestopea, and he could take his rightful place as the ruler of his world.
Eventually Ted, like most teddy bears owned by children, found his way off the bed and onto the bookshelf, leading to a shelf in my closet. The shelf in the closet moved to a place in a toy chest with my blue baby blanket that had on occasion acted as his cape when he would want to fly. As I got older the less important Ted became to me, but fortunately for me, I never became less important to Ted.
Those nights, as a child, were filled with things I rarely experience anymore. Unhindered imagination and unequivocal love for someone and their cause was a nightly ritual for me. Getting Ted home was so very important. Rarely do I find anything I care about as much as I did for that mission. It is a shame I had forgotten the amazing and completely real adventures I shared with what other people saw as brown and white cloth sewn into a bear-like pattern.
As I write this I remember a time when I was around 6 or 7 when Ted and I had gone on one of our daytime adventures. I accidentally ended up ripping his leg at the seam. I cried and cried telling my mom I had hurt Ted and he was never going to be able to fly again. I remember feeling like I had hurt my best friend and he would never forgive me for it. My wonderful mother took Ted into her arms and with surgical like precision sewed him back up, allowing our adventures to continue for many years to come.
Ted was more than a teddy bear. He was my friend. He taught me about life (and anyone who doesn’t believe this, or thinks I am exaggerating the importance of this bear either never owned one, or has no imagination), and bravery, and perseverance. Then I fell victim to what so many other kids do, and I had to put him away in a dark place. Much like the people of his own world did to him.
When I was moving out of my parents house what seems like an eternity ago I found Ted in the same toy chest I had stored him in years before. I pulled him out carefully and sat him on my knees, staring into his brown eyes, which seemed to be happy to be out of the dark, as well as excited to see his best friend again. I remembered the adventures he and I took when I was a kid and I smiled. I promised him that day he would never go back into the toy chest.
Since then, Ted and I have had plenty of adventures. This time around though he was attempting to help me find my way back to who I used to be. He was with me on my trip across the country to Arizona. He was there on my brokenhearted trip back. He sat on a shelf in my closet and watched while I allowed myself to fall into addiction while I hid from my roommates ashamed of what I was doing. He sat on the bookshelf in my room when he saw me fight to win back someone so very special to me, and he saw how hurt I was when I lost that fight. Ted saw me at the lowest points in my life when I didn’t know if I would make it through the nights in which I struggled to find a reason to go on. He watched with fear in those big brown eyes on the worst night of my life, hoping and wishing I would be able to make it through to the next morning.
Now Ted sits on my dresser, a central figure of my life. I see him every night before I fall asleep, and every morning (afternoon) before I leave for the day. I look at Ted and I remember what it was like to have a completely unhindered imagination and when it was easy to believe in fairy tales. When he looks at me, I just know he thinks that one day I will get him back home to his world where he belongs with the love he had to leave behind so very long ago.
And to him I make the promise that one day he will make it back home to the one he cares most about.