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Historical Fiction Drama

The brown fur was matted and bare in most places; at one-time small fingertips rubbed away the curls. The woven material that kept the fur in place was always rough but now exposed it now irritate one’s skin rather than comfort. The stitching of the bear was loose in many areas, revealing the wool that stuffed the teddy full. His eyes were made of smooth glass and were chill to the touch which gave him quite a permanent sorrowful look. To add to the bears sadness he was given a black stitched downturn mouth.


Robert remembered the last time he held his very loyal friend. The last time he rubbed his thin threaded nose. He pulled him up from the truck hidden in his attic. The dank musty smell burned Robert’s nose as he freed the bear from his captivity. He made a sneezed that bellowed through the room causing the dust to swirl. This generated a multitude of them to rip one after the other. All the commotion gained the attention of Robert’s daughter Mildred.


“Daddy are you all right up there? You are causing an awful ruckus,” she said as she peeked her tiny nose above the attic opening. “Where are you, Daddy?”


Robert loved that button of a nose and often teasing her that he had taken it for keeps. He had managed to catch the attention of her ice-blue eyes. Goodness, she had looked like her mother and he felt so blessed to have her a part of his world. Her golden silky hair she had inherited from himself, but you would have never known since most of his locks had thinned down to bared whisps upon his head. She smiled as she pulled herself up and over the gap. 


“Over here Millie, I found something for you. Someone that was quite a good friend when I needed one.”


“What do you have there?” she said as she crawled over to her father unsure of where to step among the beams. She raised her eyes once she touched the thick olive uniform that Robert wore. Putting weight on his knees she crept onto Robert's lap. Millie squinted as she adjusted to the dim lit attic, revealing the tired old bear. 


“Why Daddy, he doesn’t look so good does he?” Robert chuckled at her response as he turned the bear over a couple of times in front of her. 


“I suppose so. I guess I loved him quite a lot when I was about your age.”


“He’s yours? You should have taken better care of him.” she scratched at the bow in her hair as she examined the bear. 


“Do you think you can make him feel better for me?”Robert said as he gestured the bear towards her. 


Her small fingers took the bear into her arms with care. Caressing its head with just the tip of her finger while she observed every rip and tear. Her forehead creased as she narrowed her eyes to what she would need to do to repair the old friend. 


“I think I can mend him. Mummy has been teaching me how to stitch,” she said as she presented her well-pricked fingers. “I could use the practice.”


“That would be wonderful Millie. Do you think you could have him mended by the time I return? It would mean so much to me.” 


“I think so, but do you really have to go?”


“I am afraid so. They need me to fight.” Robert said as he looked down upon the shine of his boots. He did not want to go either and his heart sunk the moment he had received his service orders for the front. Leaving his daughter and wife alone set his heart thumping every moment he thought about it. Robert had begged his wife to move back with her parents temporarily until he was able to return to them but she refused to leave her small business as a seamstress. He admired her ambition but he could not help but feel worried to leave the two of them alone. 


“I do not understand why they are fighting. Mummy always said it is better to use your words then your fist. It is unladylike. Even though sometimes I do feel like hitting some of the boys in my class. Please do not tell Mummy. Why is it ok for gentlemen and government to fight then? Why must they kill one another?”


“Sometimes they just can not agree with one another. Other times someone will pick a fight just to show that they are tougher or to bully another country. So we need to take a stand. That way we do not lose our way of life. So we can protect our loved ones.”


"Daddy, why are the Germans, such bullies?"


"Only some of them are bullies. A lot of them are soldiers just like me. Following orders trying to keep their families safe too. There are only very few who actually enjoy fighting."


“But Daddy, if you go they may try and kill you. I do not want you to die!”


“I know, sweetpea," he paused as drew in a deep breath. “I am going to do my best to come back to you and my friend Oliver.”


“Oliver? His name is Oliver?” she said as her crinkled her nose at the sound of his name distracting Millie. “I have a friend at school by that name. He is awful sometimes, quite bothersome.”


“Well do not judge a bear by his name. He will keep you warm when you are cold. Keep your secrets when you are worried. Rub away your tears when you are sad. If I remember correctly he also has a great sense of humour and he would always keeping me in stitches.”


“Do you think he likes tea parties?” Millie questioned, her eyes widen with the possibility. 


“I myself have never had a tea party with him but I think he would enjoy them as much as I do. Especially if you serve tea with Mummy's shortbread cookies” Robert gave his daughter a wink. 


“Oh Thank you, Daddy! I will try and take very good care of him while you are away!” she said as she jumped to her feet. Her arms surround Robert’s neck squeezing his breath out of him as she planted mini kisses on his cheek. “I love him so much already.”


“I hope so. I will make sure that Oliver gives me a full report of everything that happens here while I am away.”


“I will take care of him, Daddy. I promise,” she said as she walked away, whispering secrets into Oliver’s ragged ears before she scooted down the ladder of the attic with care. 


Robert drew his attention back to the dusty old truck. He had not looked through it since they had packed up his father’s personal items. Tucked in with care in the trunk was his father’s uniform. Robert remembered how tall and strong he had looked in that khaki uniform. On top sat a photo crinkled and bent. A dull oval red mark stained the right corner of the faded picture. A teary-eyed boy stared back at Robert. In his left hand, the boy held Oliver, hugging the bear ever so tight. Holding the boy's right hand stood the well-formed man of his father. His smile beamed down at Robert’s mother as his father held her close with his free hand. He remembered that day when his father received his orders to return to the front. He had given him Oliver when he told Robert that he was heading to the front and that he was now the man of the house. It would be Robert’s responsibility to keep his mother and Oliver safe. 


It was nearly half a year later when they received word that his father had been killed on the battleground. A hero they said, that they should be proud of the courage he showed for his country. He died alone clutching the photo to his chest. Robert’s eyes swelled with the memory. Finally, he understood the fear and sadness that his father had when he handed him that bear. Not knowing if he would return to his family. 


“Millie, I am going to do whatever it takes to come back to you and Oliver,” Robert whispered to himself as closed the truck.


September 29, 2020 15:10

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8 comments

07:46 Oct 08, 2020

I loved every bit of this story, and it took my mind further about how your character might not come home, but also die a hero! Ah! So many emotions going through my mind! It felt as if I was watching Robert and Millie and their tender moments before he left to be deployed! I have a lump in my throat! I loved this piece!

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14:08 Oct 08, 2020

Thank you so much! ☺

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A. K. Wilson
14:34 Oct 04, 2020

I love the amount of depth you use and how descriptive it is. Its very relatable too i thought it was so sweet the dad asked the daughter mend it for him 💜💗 great job

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15:10 Oct 04, 2020

Thank you so much. It means a lot to receive the positive feedback. ☺

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Suzi Zinn
02:22 Oct 04, 2020

Thank you for the lovely compliment.

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Suzi Zinn
14:34 Oct 03, 2020

Hi, liked your story.

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15:32 Sep 30, 2020

This was so well written, you managed to capture so much emotion. The moment when Robert realized how his father felt, and how important it was for him to come back to his daughter really added a beautiful element to the story. Well done!

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21:04 Sep 30, 2020

Thank you so much! I appreciate the feedback. :)

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