The small child’s cry pierced the silence of a hot summer afternoon.
‘Mummy! Mum……mie……..Mummeeeeee. Wheel’s gone. Dolly fell out. Pram’s broke! It’s all broke! Mumm……mie’
‘Oh, shush, shush darling. Don’t make a fuss now. We’re going out. Daddy’s meeting us for afternoon tea. I’ll tell him about the pram and he’ll fix it when he gets time.’
Mother scooped up two- year-old Kate, and with the still-protesting child in her arms, disappeared outside.
‘Never mind the pram. What about me?’ A clear voice wailed.
The doll was facedown. Her dress and legs were tangled in her long blond hair. She was like a discarded heap of clothing.
‘Nobody cares about me. I’m all alone and forgotten.’ She began to sob.
‘I do!’ Sue care-bear prepared to launch herself off the shelf. She took a deep breath and clutched the red heart she carried, closer to her chest. ‘I’m coming!’
‘Oh no you’re not young lady.’ Old Ted growled from the top shelf. ‘No one moves or talks or does anything until we hear the car leave. Only then will anyone move. I do not want all of us to be at risk by the impulsive actions of anyone.
Our magic and our secret is only safe when we guard each other. Talking bears and the unknown events in this house are better remaining totally unsolved’
‘If the humans only listened to me. I could tell on you all.’ Megs the ginger cat meowed from the top of her scratching post.
‘I could too!’
Missy the border collie spiraled in. She sat down and looked in the cupboard with all the bears in their neat little rows. Her black and white face tilted to the side. She grinned her happy doggy grin.
‘Except it would be a dreadful shame if you could not have your adventures. Let me know if I can help. I’ll only be in the back garden.’
She danced away barking excitedly.
‘Please don’t be so noisy’ Joseph interjected. ‘We must wait until we know the car is gone.’ He shuffled his large golden-brown frame and settled back, muttering. He was in the armchair alone now. One of the children had taken Sue care-bear to visit a friend. Sue had been put on the shelf when they came home. Joseph remained silent about this, but he missed her very much
No one moved until the sound of the car’s engine disappeared into the distance.
Then Old Ted spoke again. ‘Alright young Sue, you can carefully get down and comfort poor Polly. I’m sure she’ll be pleased to see you.’
‘I don’t mind if you borrow my comb. Perhaps you can fix her hair.’
Milo the pure white bear in his milkman’s costume and with bottles in a crate in his hand, shuffled forward from the back of the top shelf. I always keep a comb with my notebook in my back pocket.’
Sue reached up and the comb was passed from one pure while paw into the pink one of the little care-bear. ‘Thank you’.
She then jumped to the ground and ran towards the sobbing doll on the floor. ‘Don’t cry, we’re all here to fix everything.’ Tenderly, she turned the doll over and gently combed her hair. Before long there were no more sobbing sounds. Polly and the bear sat, arms linked, beside the overturned pram.
From the back of the lowest shelf an unexpected voice spoke. For years the folks who lived in privacy and had only limited vision of the lounge-room dramas rarely moved or spoke.
‘I believe I’m the best one to help.
Excuse me! A bear politely pushed his way between Colin the Captain Bear and Alphonse the artist, who didn’t look up but continued mixing paints in his palette.
‘Matt the Mechanic. Can I be of help? I have a screwdriver.’ In his left paw he held a small silver implement.
‘Oh Matt! Matt me boy. It’s good to finally see you. Yes, indeed, Welcome! Its’ your day to use your talents. Welcome… Matt the Mechanic!
The little bear in the blue overalls bowed politely to old Ted. From all around bears clapped paws in greeting.
Missy came inside and licked his face before prancing out again.
‘Hello.’ Mewed Mexs from the top of her pole. It’s good to see you but please, please be careful. When things go wrong the humans always say, “It must have been the cat!”’ She ruffled her fur and settled,purring anxiously.
‘I’ll need a bit of help, please,’ Matt paced the floor ‘the screw from the wheel must be here somewhere.’
‘I see it! I see it!’ an extended brown paw holding a cutlass pointed to a distant corner of the room. Pedro the Pirate muttered something else in Portuguese before he sat down again on his top shelf position of clear room vision. ‘Look sharp me hearties. There’s no time for muckin around.’
Old Ted found the screw and toddled back to place it in Matt’s paw. ‘Here you are, son. Now, what can I do to help?’
‘Please will you hold the pram while I screw the wheel back in position.’
‘I would like to help too!’ uncle Joseph growled above them.
‘Ah, Joe, Joe!’ Ted replied ‘You know your size makes it very difficult for you to climb back again into that large chair. ‘Please, be the lookout, and help us by warning and distraction, if anything unexpected happens.’
‘Will do!’. Contentment was Joseph’s greatest gift.
It was a slow process, but, finally little paws performed their professional duties. The doll’s pram was steady and whole again.
‘Yippee!’ shouted Harry the Hiker and Milo rattled his milk bottles.
‘Missy! Missy! Please if can hear me, we could use your help now.’
‘I hear you. Oh yes, I hear you. Help help! O do let me help. Please, please let me help.’ The border collie burst back into the room spiraling, and dancing excitedly. ‘I want to help. All I ever want to do is help.’
Ted sighed. ‘Dear Missy, please settle down. We need you to be very gentle and careful. Polly wants to lie down in her pram. Please, pick her up and gently place her in her right place. Please, Missy be very gentle and careful'.
The dog tenderly lifted the doll and carefully walked back to the pram. She intended to place Polly’s head on the pillow but as she bent over she lost her grip and the doll dropped with a jolt, back into her place.’
Soft gasps came from the watching bears.
‘I’m ok. I’m ok. Thank you, Missy. Thank you everyone. I’m very grateful’ Polly laughed. ‘It’s been an adventure’.
‘Yes, it’s been an adventure’. They all laughed even the cat.
Matt suddenly felt a small paw tugging at his overalls. He looked down into the pink face of Sue Care-Bear. ‘Please Matt, could you ask someone to help me get back into my right place? I really belong on Joseph’s lap in that large armchair but was put on the shelf by mistake.
Also', she placed a comb into his paw, 'please return this to Milo with thanks.’
. ‘I’ll put you back into the armchair, I can reach’ said old Ted. Carefully he walked over and then, reached up and placed the little bear back on Joseph’s lap. He was the only one who saw the tears sliding down the big brown bear’s cheeks.
‘Everyone quickly now, back into your correct places. Matt do you need help to get back?’
‘No, it looks like everyone’s moving so I can squeeze past’. He waved the spanner and disappeared on the lower shelf to sit behind Colin the Captain.
The comb was then passed from paw to paw until Milo returned it safely to his back pocket.
‘I hear the car.’ Joseph warned. ‘Absolute stillness everyone’.
That afternoon when the family returned home even the animals were strangely subdued. There was a stillness which was abnormal.
The goldfish blew bubbles which overflowed the tank. The cat meowed and stretched. Missy calmly sat and held up a paw. The rest of the house was still, very, very, still.
Kate suddenly cried out ‘ Mummie my pram’s not broke anymore. Oh Mummeeeee come and see.’
‘Impossible!’ said Mother. ‘I saw it on its side. It’s impossible.’
‘I need a coffee’ said Father ‘let’s both sit down and have one. I'm too tired now to deal with any mysteries.'
‘And, and, I. I just want to live in peace and quiet with no dramas’ the cat murmured..
Everyone else suppressed their laughter and became once more a collection of small bears and their friends, in a house shared with humans.