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Max meets Suzie

posted 4 Mar 2017, 06:56 by Fran Brady   [ updated 4 Mar 2017, 07:03 ]

Aliida was sad. And when Aliida is sad, Max Bear is too. They lay together on Bed-Above and, even though it was not bedtime, Aliida was under her duvet. And when Aliida is under her duvet, Max is too. The blind at the window was still down, even though the sun was shining outside and trying to peep round the edges of the blind. The room was warm and, under the duvet, Max felt hot. Aliida had an arm round him, holding him close, which he usually liked very much. But today, the arm felt heavy and her breath on his head felt terribly hot. He wriggled, trying to put a gap between them but it didn’t help. 

Aliida had been sent home early from school. At first, Max had been delighted. School days could seem terribly long, all alone in the flat apart from Katy Price, and who knew what kind of mood she was going to be in? Some days, she chatted away to him, telling him all about Aliida’s mother, Tanya. 

Tanya had had KP for years before she married Archie, and Aliida was born. KP would preen and pose and tell Max that they were all – Archie, Aliida and Max – just newcomers. She had been there first, long before them. Now that Tanya was gone, KP felt that she was now the one in charge. She certainly acted like it, most of all to Max.  

Some days, KP was not in a talking mood. She curled up on Bed-Above and twitched her tail threateningly if Max tried to come up too. Her loud purrrring could be heard all over the flat but she would not say a word. Those were the longest, boring-est days. And today had been one of them.

So, when Aliida was brought home by Archie just before two o’clock, Max was thrilled. But Aliida was not her usual playful, loving self. She barely looked at Max who was sitting on the couch in Teeveat. To Max’s surprise, Archie helped her change out of her school uniform into her PJs and climb up into Bed-Above. Archie chased KP off. She fled with a startled ‘Meee-iaow’ and went to continue her sleep behind the couch. Archie came back into Teeveat and scooped Max up. 

‘Come on, young man,’ he said. ‘Time to earn your keep. There’s a sick wee lassie who needs her bear.’

When he heard that, Max squared his shoulders proudly. He was needed! Comforting the sick is one of the main duties in a bear’s job. He had submitted to being hauled under the covers and being almost suffocated; he had lain very still while Aliida slept; he had fitted his well-stuffed body into the curves of her body in a perfect cuddle. He was sure she would soon be well. Bear-magic would see to that.

But, now, after several hours, he had had enough. Surely Aliida must be better now? But it seemed not. She continued to sleep and her breath became hotter and hotter on his head. There was a funny noise coming out of her mouth, not quite a snore, but a chokey sort of grunt. This meant Max couldn’t sleep himself and time hung heavy in the hot little room. He prayed that she would wake soon and be all right again. Maybe take him out for a walk; maybe down to the swing park. He loved it when she tied him on to a swing and pushed it until he was flying. So exciting!

Then, the bell trilled in Hall. That meant someone was at the big door to the street and wanting to come in to see them. He heard Archie speak to the phone on the wall. ‘So pleased. So pleased,’ he was saying. ‘Come right in.’

The next voice he heard was Grandma Frances and Max’s heart leapt in joy. He loved GF. Whenever she came to take Aliida out, she always insisted on Max coming too. And she took them to such exciting places.

In a few minutes, GF and Archie came into Aliida’s bedroom. ‘Whatever’s the matter, sweetheart?’ said GF. ‘Are you ill? My poor wee darling.’ She stood on tiptoe and reached up to stroke Aliida’s forehead. ‘The child’s burning up. She needs lots of cool drinks. There’s a nasty bug going about. I’ll go to the shop right now and get some fruity water and paracetamol. That’s what she needs, poor wee lamb.’

She pulled back the duvet a little and saw Max. ‘Oh, your poor wee bear!’ Just look at you!’ 

Max was pleased to be called ‘poor’ and ‘wee’, same as Aliida, but knew that he was not looking his best. His fur coat was damp from Aliida’s sweaty crush, his smart clothes were crumpled and he had lost a shoe somewhere in the bed. GF gently loosened Aliida’s grip and lifted Max out of the bed. ‘Come along, young man,’ she said. ‘I think you need some fresh air. And I’ve got someone I want you to meet.’ 

GF took Max out to her car. He remembered it from the day they first came home from Bear Shop, after Aliida had rescued him. ‘You go in the back beside Suzie, ‘she said. ‘I know you two are going to be great friends. Suzie has just come to live with me. I rescued her last weekend. And I’ve been telling her all about you.’

GF opened the car door and thrust Max on to the seat. ‘Look, Suzie,’ she said. ‘This is Max. You and he are going to be great friends. I just know it.’ 

There was a squeak and swishing noise. Then a rusty-brown-red animal with a long fluffy tail leapt onto the back of the seat and sat blinking at Max. It wore a checked scarf and a big smile. ‘Hello, Max Bear,’ it said in a lovely, velvety voice. ‘I’m Suzie Squirrel. Very pleased to meet you.’

Max fell in love!