Max Bear‎ > ‎

the first adventure . . .

posted 16 Jan 2017, 13:51 by Fran Brady

MAX BEAR lay in the bear pit, in a heap among lots of other bears. His neck was twisted and his scrawny body was tangled up with other scrawny-bear bodies. He could hear happy children coming in, full of excitement, and going out with their new bear-friends. But he had been in the scrawny-bear pit now for three weeks and no child had chosen him.

‘Today must be the day,’ he told himself as a new day dawned. The shop lights came on and the Christmas music started up in the shopping mall.

The first child who came in was a very noisy boy with a snotty nose. He bent over the bear pit and rummaged roughly among the bears. He picked up first one and then another but quickly threw them back into the pit. These bears considered they had had a lucky escape. This was not the kind of child they wanted to be chosen by. The horrid boy reached deep down into the pit and all the bears shrank away from him. For one terrifying moment, Max felt his leg clutched and he squealed in terror. Then a voice, an impatient big-person voice, said: ‘Get a move on, George. Just pick any bear. They are all the same. The whole point is to dress it up and make it your own, once you’ve got one out of the heap.’

All the same, indeed! Much they knew. To Max’s relief, the horrid boy, George, let go of his leg and grabbed another bear from the top of the pile. Phew! 

The next child was a very pretty, little girl with blond curls and a sweet mouth. She pursed her pink-rosebud lips as she delicately prodded each bear. She tilted her head to one side as she did this. She was quite lovely. All the bears stretched their scrawny necks as high above the heap as they could and tried to be the one she chose. Then she spoke: ‘Do I have to have another one? I’ve got so many already and I’m tired of bears. I never play with them anymore. I want a Barbie Doll.’

‘Don’t be ungrateful, Melanie,’ said a bored voice. ‘You know your grandfather likes buying you bears. It makes him happy.’

‘But I don’t WANT a bear!’ The girl’s voice was loud and she stamped her foot in anger. ‘Bears are boring! I want a Barbie . . .’ 

A big grown-up person’s hand with lots of rings on it reached down and grabbed one of the bears. The girl was dragged away still whining. The bear pit was silent for a few seconds. Then a sigh of relief went through all the bears.

‘Poor Clarence,’ thought Max. He’s gone to sit in a cupboard or up on a shelf with no one to love him and play with him. Max prayed that this would not happen to him. He so wanted to be loved and part of a happy family.

But the morning dragged on, lots of children came and went, lots of bears were chosen, but still Max lay in the pit. At one point, ten more scrawny-bears were tossed on top of him and he had to claw his way back up to the top in hope of being seen and chosen. Lunchtime came and the bears were fed their usual salty, lumpy porridge with no sugar or honey. 

Max thought about sitting at the table with a family for Christmas dinner and being fed delicious food. Lots of honey would feature in this meal, he was sure.

At half past two, the miracle happened. Into the shop came a beautiful girl with an older lady. It was obvious that neither of them had ever been to a bear shop before. They weren’t sure what to do but a shop assistant soon came over to help them.

‘Choose your bear, darling,’ said the lady. She had such a kind, jolly voice. Max liked her at once.

The girl looked into the bear pit. She didn’t rummage or pull at the bears, or pick up one up and then toss it back, like all the other children; she was gentle and her lovely dark eyes were full of gentleness. Max strained and stretched his neck until his head was almost touching her hand which was just hovering over the pit. He prayed like mad: ‘God, please make this lovely girl and lady choose me.’ 

Then the miracle happened. The girl gently teased his tangled legs out from the scrum of all the other bear-legs-and-arms and lifted him clean out of the pit. ‘This one!’ she said. ‘I want this one, please.’ 

The next thing Max knew, he was being filled with lovely soft stuffing. His gangly legs and arms became plump; he grew a round tummy and even a double chin! His new mummy chose a beautiful shirt and shorts for him, smart, sporty shoes and – joy of joys – a cool pair of shades. Max had been admiring those sunglasses for weeks and longing to have them. Then the girl – her name is Aliida – and the lady – her name is Grandma Frances – took Max for his first-ever ice cream. After weeks in the hot, sweaty bear pit, being fed only on salty porridge, it was heaven to sit on a chair at a table and eat the delicious, sweet, cold stuff. Max decided, there and then, that ice cream was his favourite food!

But best of all was when they had finished their ice creams and Grandma Frances said: ‘Now, Aliida, let’s get a photo of you and Max’ and she took out her phone and held it up, ready. Aliida did not even hesitate: she came right round to Max's chair and gave him the most wonderful hug. She was smiling so hard Max thought her lovely face would crack! 

    Max is going to love being part of this family . . .