The soft, pink comforter in Lilly’s room is warm and a nice contrast form the shelves in Harvard’s Toy Shop. This is my first night out of the store and I’m excited for the change of scenery.
The day had started like all the other’s in Harvard’s. At about 6:30 the sun’s early rays would stretch through the windows and linger on my shelf. The other stuffed animals and I would fluff our tails and straighten our ears in preparation for the day, each one of us praying that a kid would skip though and pick us off the shelf.
I had been sitting there for four days before Lilly came for me. Her shiny black hair was tied back with a blue ribbon that matched her shirt, and her almond shaped eyes shone with wonder as she saw me.
“Mommy,” she says, tugging lightly in her mother’s skirt. “Can we get that bunny? He looks like Arthur!” she pointed a finger in my direction and her grin grew even wider. I had no idea who Arthur was, and I felt the stuffing inside my fluffy bunny body swell with anticipation. The mother’s expression was skeptical, but her eyes softened at her daughter’s eagerness and she plucked me from the shelf.
“Happy birthday, Lilly.” And I was in her arms.
This afternoon was really nice. I was introduced to some of her other toys and most of them seem really nice. Her favorite was obviously Sweetie, a fluffy blue elephant who claimed to have been with Lilly her whole life. There’s also Oscar, a giraffe, and he seems welcoming. Then there were the three kitty sisters, duplicates of each other so if one got lost Lilly’s mom could just slide the next one in. there was even another bunny like me. her name was bonnie and she was a charcoal gray, unlike my own caramel brown coat.
It was the most wonderful day of my short, stuffed animal life, but the best part by far was when Lilly gave me my name. Its Tod, and I loved it.
But all throughout playing and dinner up until bedtime I felt this underlying feeling of suspicion from my new toy companions.
Now the lights are dimmed and I can feel Lilly’s arms around me, a comforting weight that lets me know she’s there. But as I lay in bed I realize that not everyone is as relaxed as I am.
There’s a yellowish light glowing in the middle of the room, and I see silhouettes gathered around it. Carefully, I wiggle my way under Lilly’s arm and plop soundlessly on the plush carpet. I creep towards the light, cringing at the swish swish of the carpet threads.
As I near the eerie light, I begin to hear bits of the silhouettes’ conversation. I hop up onto Lilly’s desk and crouch behind a stack of books so I can listen in.
“Order! Order!” the first voice belongs to Sweetie, who I’m pretty sure is the leader of the little group. “I hereby call to session this meeting of the Keepers of Lilly and Company, or, the KLC. Honey, review the minutes from last week’s meeting, please.”
“Yessir!” Honey was a fluffy teddy bear with a red heart on her chest and a purple stain above her right eye. “First, we debated whether of not to bring snacks to the meetings. Oscar, Kittens one and two, and Maurice were in favor. Soon after Bonnie pointed out that, technically, none of us can consume food, and then the motion was cancelled.”
“I still think it was a great idea.” Oscar grumbled
“Then,” Honey continues without missing a beat. “We discussed Lilly’s inevitable birthday, which has now passed.”
“Thank you, Honey.” Sweetie sighs. “The damage this year isn’t too bad, due to the lose of income brought by Lilly’s Father’s job.”
“I thought we agreed to call him ‘Terminator’ because he always terminates playtime.” One of the Kittens interrupts.
“Alright, Terminator’s job.” The group murmurs their agreement. “And, besides a box of crayons, the only new addition to the room was that rabbit.” He said the last two words with such malice I almost took a step back. The entire group was silent and, if I didn’t know any better, I would think they were trying to extinguish me from existence my mere thought.
“But Tod seems like a really nice guy. Not like the other one.” Honey says timidly. Sweetie hmphed, but didn’t reply.
“Don’t you remember when I came along a few years ago?” Bonnie reasons. “You had the same feeling toward me as you do Tod now. All you have to do is give him a little time, and you’ll see.”
“Wait, who are we talking about? Who are you comparing Tod to?” Oscar interjects, a confused look on his face.
“Right, you were only added to the room a few months ago,” Says Bonnie. “Kittens, will you tell the story for us?”
The three sisters smiled as they lunged into a tale of a rabbit, their high voices jumping in and out of the words, pitches rising and falling in a rehearsed chorus, like they’d done this a thousand times. The rabbit and Sweetie were best friends, and had been with each other for almost all of the elephant’s life. They both loved Lilly with all their hearts and, for a while, it was just the three of them. But soon, their beloved girl started to become more partial to Sweetie, and that made the other toy jealous. He tried to worm his way back into Lilly’s affection, but she was just to in love with Sweetie. The two had a fight, and in the rabbit’s hysteric state, he threatened to harm Lilly. Sweetie told the toy that he was no longer welcome in that room, and had 48 hours to be gone. The next day, Lilly and her family went on a drive. The rabbit stowed away in her suitcase and jumped out the window on a road trip to Mt. Rushmore, and has never been seen since. The rabbits name was Arthur.
I could feel the stuffing inside me rising into my throat. Never seen again? What if the decide that I’m like that rabbit and they throw me out a car window?
I leaned back against the stack of books to gather my wits, but, to my horror, they collapsed, plummeting into the circle of animals, and leaving me sprawled in the middle of the secret meeting. Through my blurry vision, I could see the shocked expressions on the KLC members. All except Sweetie. His face was contorted with fury, then everything turned black.
“Tod,” The fog in my mind begins to stir. “Tod, you have to wake up.” My eyelids flutter open to see the soft, concerned face of Bonnie, only inches away from my nose. “Tod, I don’t know why you did it, but you shouldn’t’ve. Sweetie’s awful mad about you listening in and you should stay in the Prison for a few days, but since you’re new to Lilly, we can only afford a few hours. I’ll come and get you when your time is up.”
My head cleared and I sit up, taking in my surroundings. I’ve been captured in a cube made of colored bricks. I recognize the toys from Harvard’s, building blocks so strong they’re almost impossible to break apart with furry paws. Legos. My mind swims amidst the bright colors and, despite my prior knowledge about the Lego's indestructibility, I throw myself against the walls again and again, desperate to escape.
“There’s no point.” A hopeless voice says, and I stop. In my panic, I hadn’t noticed window at the back of the room. I scurry over to it and clutch at the bars.
“Nobody. Just a remnant of what once was.” My eyes adjust to the darkness filling the room and I can see a furry body propped up against the wall. But what stops me cold are the two long ears sticking up from the head.
“Arthur?” I ask, hesitantly. The rabbit’s ears perk up at the name.
“Who are you, little brother? How do you know that long forgotten name?” he stands and begins to snuffle towards the window.
“I’m Tod, but I haven’t been here very long. This is my first night away from the store.”
He neared the light and I gasped. Arthur Looks just like me. I’m serious. We had the same brown fur. Same golden eyes. Same white tail. Our only difference was his obvious use and my newness.
“How can this be?” I breathe, completely taken aback.
“We are form the same shelf, brother.” He replies, unfazed.
My astonishment from this new development is then shattered. This toy tried to hurt Lilly. Slowly, I back away from the window.
“You threatened Lilly.” I said, voice shaking. But instead of lashing out in anger like I expect, Arthur just chuckles, a dry, brittle sound like crinkling paper.
“Are those the lies they told you? Are you really that naive?” His voice is bitter and contemplative. “I guess I’ll have to tell you what really happened all those years ago,” He paused, staring at my still hesitant stance. “you do want to know the truth, don’t you?”
I rise on my hunches and nod my head vigorously. This guy had been nicer to me in these last few minutes than Sweetie had been during the whole day yesterday. And even if he was fibbing about it all, I was curious.
“I guess I’ll have to start at the beginning, at Harvard’s.” his gaze ran past me and his eyes were focused on something beyond, like he was looking into the future. “Sweetie and I were best friends, even on the shelf,”
“Wait,” I exclaim “Sweetie was at Harvard’s too?”
“That’s what I said.” Arthur snaps, obviously irritated at the interruption. “No more disruptions!”
I fall silent.
“Alright, where were we? Oh yes, Harvard’s.” His eyes become dreamy again as he continues. “Yes, he and I were best friends. Lilly’s mom bought us both at the same time, you know, for Christmas. Oh, you should’ve seen her face when she opened the box. It was---”
“Are we getting to the parts that actually tells me you’re not a psychopath child killer?” I blurt. Arthur gives me the look, you know, that exasperated expression that moms give their kids when that ask a stupid question.
“I’m getting there.” He replies, deadpan, the magic from his eyes completely gone. “Anyway, Lilly loved both of us for a while, always taking us everywhere. But then when we started going to school and stores, Mom and Dad decided that Lilly needed to pick one favorite toy. And who do you think she picked?” he asks.
“Sweetie said it was him, and you were really jealous.” I answer, recalling the previous nights story.
“He would say that, wouldn’t he?” Arthur sighs. “Well, it was me. We did everything together, Lilly and I. and lots of the time Sweetie would be left home. I guess he couldn’t take it, not being the favorite, because one night he woke me from the bed. At that time, Lilly and I were up there while Sweetie and the other toys were down on the floor.”
I thought about how I had been up on that bad just last night, Lilly’s arm around me lovingly.
“He told me to get lost. Hide myself so Lilly would have to pick a new favorite. I refused. He became angrier and started to threaten me. Still I refused. Then he threatened Lilly. I don’t know what he said he would’ve done, but I knew he was serious. There was this look in his eyes that made me fear for my beloved owner. So, he locked me up here, literally built the Prison around me. And I suspect you are the only one to hear the real story.”
Arthur leans back on his haunches and sighs, as if just remembering the sad tale is exhausting.
“Why do you expect me to trust you?” I question, wincing at the harsh tone of my voice. “How do I know that you weren’t the one who threatened Lilly and Sweetie threw you in here to protect her?” but even as I say this heartless contradiction, I remember Lilly and her mother in the store that day I was taken home. “he looks like Arthur!” the love in her eyes was the love only for a favorite toy lost, not a second fiddle. This imprisoned rabbit before me is telling the truth. “I believe you.” I breathe.
“Really?” Arthur looks more relieved than perplexed.
“But how’re we going to stop Sweetie?” I ask.
“What do you mean, ‘stop Sweetie’?” Were nose-to-nose again behind the bars. I scratch my ear, trying to think.
“He’s a bully and a threat to Lilly, not to mention all the other toys worship him like a god. We have to find a way to trap him somehow.”
“But I’m captured here.” Says Arthur hopelessly, hanging his head. “I won’t be much good to you.”
I think about this problem. The smooth walls of the Prison gave no indication of yielding, except for the window separating the two cells.
“Have you tried this window?” I ask, fingering the plastic bars.
“Of course, I have! I’ve tried everything. The rabbit’s voice is bitter as he states his obvious defeat.
“Come here.” I say, placing my feet on the lip of the sill and wrapping my paws around the bars. “It might work since there are two of us. Arthur replicates my position. Together we push up against the Legos with our legs and pull with our arms. It takes a few tries, but eventually, a gap opens up above our heads.
“We did it.” Arthur gawks, his voice barely a whisper. We hop out of the Prison together.
“Let’s go save our girl.”
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This was such an interesting story, and I love all the little details throughout. You took a really intriguing approach and wrote it really, really well. I was hooked the whole time reading it. Amazing work!
Wow! This was a fantastic story! It was great how Sweetie was misleading all the stuffed animals, and was secretly evil the whole time. I loved the line "the love in her eyes was the love only for a favorite toy lost, not a second fiddle." Gorgeously written, and paints a real picture. There were a few mistakes with the tenses in there, but they didn't distract from the story, so it was fine. Wonderful job! Stay safe and keep writing, Vieve P.S. Have you read The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare? Sorry that's kinda random, so ig...
I've never even heard of it. Sounds intriguing, though. Why do you ask?
Hi Kate. I really like this story. I often think about what toys think of the way kids treat them, such as when they are left on a shelf instead of played with. I really like how you worked in the secret meeting, and the indestructible lego was really funny. I did get a little confused about where exactly Arthur was. At first I thought he was outside the bedroom window, since supposedly he'd been lost outside on a road trip, but eventually you made it clear by explaining that he was in another cell of the Prison. Your story reminds me of the...
Wow Kate.. you did wonderful job with that wonderful story. Funny both are names are same..lol. Stay safe