Milo found himself part of the after-party mess.
Milo fell from the top shelf of the bear cupboard.
With a dull thud, he landed on the hard, polished timber floor.
His milk bottles were not broken but they clanged together. Their metallic strengthening components jangled like chiming bells.
One child from the ten gathered around the table, for a birthday party,
Old Ted’s voice, ‘Keep very still, son’ resonated with authority.
Only the alert bear community could hear. Row upon row remained fixed in their placid positions of normality.
Below the drama unfolded.
‘Oh look, it’s a pure white teddy bear’. Emily Cosgrove called.
‘Please let me
‘Oh, he’s gorgeous.’
‘I want to cuddle him.’ Children’s mixed voices came from around the table but, then hands began to clutch at Milo’s clothing, and he felt himself being
jostled and pulled.
Ten-year-old Daniel gave the bear’s foot a poke. ‘He’s very soft.
Be gentle. He may not be made for rough handling.’
Mother Kate returned to the room.
‘Back to the table everyone’ she called ‘Let’s all have more food and I’ll cut the cake and then we’ll have ice-cream.’
‘Please can I bring this bear with me?’ Melanie asked as she grabbed Milo off the floor and cradled him in her arms.
‘No!’ her brother Daniel shouted. ‘Put him back and come to the table.’
‘He’s coming with me’ Melanie insisted. ‘I’m bringing him.’
She stamped her foot ‘It’s none of your business!’
Kate’s startled eyes could hardly comprehend how one of the most delicate of the Bear Collection had appeared and got mixed up with the children’s party.
She gently removed Milo from Melonie’s passionate embrace and said kindly, ‘I’ll stand him next to the birthday cake, and, everyone will be able to see him.
Later, I’ll tell you a story about him, and the other bears. Then, we’ll go outside for ice-cream and watermelon.’
Susan, the little girl who lived
here and fed the goldfish, was ten today. Milo wanted to clap his paws. All the watching bears longed to join in the Happy Birthday, Susan song.
Mother’s story about the shelf bears captured the children’s attention. She told them how, one at a time, these strange little bears dressed in very unusual costumes, arrived to live
with the family bear members who already lived here.
'We don’t know a lot about Milo. He is dressed like a
man who delivered bottles of milk to houses a long time ago.(Today, we buy milk from shops. It’s no longer in milk bottles.)
Milo is part of the family and is loved and appreciated
by everyone living here.
Unusual things sometimes happen with these bears. I have no idea how he came from his protected corner place to be on the floor. Perhaps it was a wind gust.’
She shook her head. To herself she muttered, there’s usually no normal reason
for what happens to these bears.
After a lot of eating, drinking and laughing, the children meandered outside for
ice-creams and watermelon on the lawn.
Milo stood on the table surrounded by birthday party debris – burst balloons,
paper plates, torn napkins, sticky half-eaten lollies, fruit seeds and paper cups. Some still contained liquid.
sighed. ‘I really would like to go home.’
Suddenly, a small hand grabbed him,
and he was whisked away.
Melonie’s voice gently soothed. ‘Little white bear,’
she cooed. ‘I’m taking you outside to see the big world. Maybe I’ll even take you home with me. For now, we’ll sit by the pool and watch the people swimming.’
Six-year-old Melonie hugged him with passionate determination and together they plopped into a light plastic chair beside the inground pool.
Milo enjoyed the sunshine, the swimming, and all the laughter. He wished Melonie would not hug him so tightly but was happy to see this
wonderful outside world.
‘Missie! Missie! Fetch!’ a voice called.
Unexpectedly, a wet ball from the swimming pool was lobbed towards the waiting, open-mouthed, dancing black and white collie
somewhere behind them.
It splattered against the back of the chair. Milo felt Melanie’s hold on him slacken. He slid
face-down onto the grass.
The wet ball landed somewhere on his back. He could feel the moisture seeping into his collar.
Missie pounced. She saw the small bear just in time, and as she scooped the ball off his back, carefully positioned her paws to avoid standing on him. Moisture
from her very wet fur cascaded down on the helpless bear like a wild shower of rain.
back on her haunches with head cocked and brown eyes looking concerned. She looked down at the helpless bear. The ball was clenched tightly in her teeth.
‘Please help me’, a small voice cried from the ground.
‘Be right back’ she snuffle- barked around the ball. ‘I have business to attend to first.’
She then began her collie dance around and around the pool. She shook the ball violently.
Voices began entreating. ‘Give it back!’
‘Come on dog, stop mucking around. Bring the ball back.’
She ran as far from the swimmers as the small pool allowed and gently placed the ball just
out of arm’s reach on the grass.
‘That’s not fair, dog’ Daniel cried.
Missie danced her way back to Milo. With one fluid motion, she picked him up and clenched her teeth on the back of his jacket. She ran at full collie speed through the back, screen-door.
She flung the bear at the foot of old Ted’s armchair and barked once.
‘Hope you can help this poor little wet bear.
Maybe I can help again later.’
She returned outside and ran around and around the pool in a demented attention-seeking mode.
Stopping abruptly. with tongue lolling, and brown eyes appealing, she barked loudly and excitedly.
‘Send me another one please. Let’s play lots and
lots. Let’s not go back inside for a long time.’
It was not until most of the visitor’s cars had departed that a tearful Melanie came to Kate in the house.
‘I’ve lost the little white teddy’ she sobbed. ‘My Mum said I had to tell you. I took him outside and dropped him near the pool.
Mum Kate smiled. She cuddled the little girl. ‘It’s alright, darling. Somehow
Milo came home. Come with me. I’ll show you.’
The lounge room felt unusually quiet.
Row after row of bears stood unblinking and still.
Mum carefully removed Clint the Cowboy
and Clement the Chef. ‘There he is, Melanie. Milo is on the shelf at the back’
Melanie looked in. Milo stood proudly holding
his carton of milk bottles. His back was firmly wedged in the corner. The child smiled.
‘Bye dear little white teddy’
she called as she skipped to re-join her mother outside.
Mother thought she saw Milo wink. She shook her head in disbelief.
‘Missie, Missie’ she said as she fondled the dog’s ears. ‘If only you could talk. I’m sure you know
what happens around here.
‘Woof! Woof! I can. I can, and I do.'
Sophie the cat groaned. ‘I’d have such a lot to say if only I could find someone to hear me’ she mewed.
‘Don’t forget we all can ‘ Old Ted responded from the arm-chair. ‘Come and join us tonight. I’m convening a Conference.
We’ll discuss what happened today and plan further safety measures.’