She found him underneath the bed. He was covered in dust, and it looked like mice had been nibbling at him. Stuffing was showing through holes in his dirty fur, and he was missing an eye.
“Poor thing,” she sighed.
She took him downstairs into the kitchen and sat him on the table while she filled the sink with warm water and handwash detergent.
“Let’s get you cleaned up first,” she murmured as she lowered him into the soapy water. She smiled at herself when she realised that she was automatically keeping his nose above the water, just as if he was alive, but it didn’t stop her from doing so. She scrubbed him carefully, trying not to force any more of his stuffing out, then rinsed the soap suds away. The water came out grey, but eventually he came out the nice caramel colour she remembered.
“I need to get you dry now, though,” she said, almost to herself. It seemed cruel to hang him up on the washing line by his paws, so she dug out a net bag that was just big enough for him to sit inside, and hung that from the line instead. He looked more comfortable in the bag than he would hanging by his paws, at least.
While he dried in his bag on the line, she dug out her sewing box and her bag of scrap material. She didn’t have any furry material that would match, but there was bound to be something she could use. After thinking about it for a little while, she decided to give him some nice colourful patches, rather than settle for a close but not quite close enough match.
It was a sunny day, and he dried surprisingly quickly. She looked at the clock as she sat down with him, and smiled. She could easily get this done in time. Quickly, deftly and neatly, she patched him up with smart bits of material, a patch on an arm here, a patch on an ear there, and one big patch right on his bottom. Then she dug through her button box, and found a nice shiny black button that was just the right size to replace his missing eye.
“There you go,” she said as she sat him down on her daughter’s bed. “Good as new.”
After she picked her daughter up from school, she followed the little girl into her bedroom. She didn’t mind that the little girl didn’t notice that the room had been tidied up, that the curtains had been fixed or that she had new bedclothes, because she saw her daughter’s face light up at the sight of one particular thing in the room.
The little girl squealed in excitement and bounced across the bed to hug the bear.
“Where have you been? I missed you!”
© Kari Fay