The Monster Named Steve

Written in response to: Write about someone finding a monster under their bed.... view prompt

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Bedtime Friendship Sad

The monster under my bed was named Steve. At least, that's what he told me. It's been a long time since I saw Steve, over a decade or so in fact.

I saw something the other day that reminded me of him in a neglected shop window, a little teddy bear that looked a little worse-for-wear.

It was almost exactly like his favourite toy when we were younger, a stuffed bear named Teddy that I had lost one night and never found again. Steve had taken it into his cosy little den under my bed and never let it go again.

I had only found my old stuffed animal as I was packing up all my stuff for college under my bed, right where Steve had left it. Except Steve wasn't there anymore.

I'd grown out of him, too old to have a monster under my bed. Apparently grown-ups couldn't have irrational fears like things going bump in the night, but I would still miss my little Steve.

We had been friends when I was younger, Steve and I. Best friends, actually. We went on so many adventures together, even sneaking out of the house to go play in the backyard in the middle of the night.

As I was packing up more of my souvenirs from childhood, I found more things I'd lost years ago, never to be found again.

My cheap plastic recorder that I'd cried over when I couldn't find it. All of the little trinkets I'd accumulated when I went down to Florida to visit my ageing grandparents every winter.

So many years worth of memories and souvenirs, all ending up in some dusty box to be shipped off to some university I was attending.

And I was leaving Steve behind. Steve, who I hadn't seen since I was twelve. I might have outgrown the fear of him, yes, but I was still going to miss him. Probably always would, at least until I forgot about the tiny monster under my bed that had been my best friend forever.

As I had walked past the shop last week, the sight of the little forgotten bear made me sad. I wanted to buy him so badly, pluck his sad body right off that display shelf and take him home with me.

When I went up to the door of the antique store, there was a large red CLOSED printed on a plain piece of paper taped to the window. I went home that night thinking about that bear and Steve, my head all in a twist.

It might seem like a stupid thing, to be this emotional over some teddy bear, but it was more than that. Steve was more important to me than anyone could ever be, even my own family.

He was my lifeline, always listening to the stories I told, laughing and crying at all the right parts until we both exhausted ourselves. He was the sibling I never had, the one who would always talk to me when I was going through a hard time.

There were a lot of hard times in high school and college, the times when I would miss him the most. Sometimes I would peek under my bed out of habit, waiting for his big round head to pop out from under the bed-frame, but he was never there.

Besides, even if Steve had come back to me, he wouldn't have been the same. He would have been different in the same way that I was after so many years away from each other. We'd both grown up, gone our separate ways, and as hard as that was to accept, I knew it was the truth. Now all there was for me to do was to remember him fondly and cherish the memories we made as kids.

So I'm walking to the same antique store I visited a week ago, on a mission to buy the little stuffed bear that had reminded me of my childhood best friend.

This time, the door is unlocked.

I turn the handle and walk into the shop, the little bells over the door tinkling merrily as I look around.

It doesn't take me long to locate the teddy bear, as I rush over to it and lift it off the shelf.

It's a perfect replica of my own from so many years ago, and I almost shed a tear or two as I hold the bear in my arms, cherishing its soft faux fur and the way it feels so much like my childhood toy.

I walk to the cashier at the front of the store, grasping the stuffed animal like it's my buoy in a raging ocean, keeping me afloat in the current. I suppose in a way it is.

The lady standing there looks at me with just a touch of scepticism in her gaze, but then wipes her face of all emotion and rings up my bear.

"That will be $12.50, please. We only take cash here." The cashier waits for me as I rummage through my purse for a fifteen dollar bill.

I hand the bill over to her as soon as I find one, elated that this wonderful piece of my childhood is almost within my reach.

The lady looks for change in her cash box, but I stop her before she can hand my change to me. Two dollars and fifty cents.

"Oh no, don't bother, please. Keep the change."

She doesn't argue, depositing the change back into the cash box behind her, then turning back to bid me goodbye.

"Have a nice day, miss," she says flatly, passing me the stuffed teddy bear over the counter.

The pleasant words are only a courtesy from her at this point, and her monotone voice indicates as much, but I feel like those four simple words put me on top of the world. It's a strange feeling, but I'm not sure I want it to go away either.

As I walk back out of the shop, the bells jingling again as I open the door, I hug the bear close to my chest, breathing in its musty scent.

Smells like home. I feel very much like a five-year-old again, hiding in the corner of my room, my bear clutched close to my chest as Steve stalks closer to me, an inviting hand open wide, his eyes big and trusting.

That was the night we first met, oh-so-many years ago now, a million miles away. I would say it seems like just yesterday that he first crawled out from under my bed, but the years have not been so far lost on me.

Still hugging my newfound friend, I feel a sense of serenity and acceptance. I'll always be able to remember Steve now. And I don't ever want to let myself forget him again, not even for a second. I couldn't do that again.

October 24, 2022 01:01

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