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Rubbish Bin Bear

May 6, 2007

Joy Cowley


When Jason was born, he was given a teddy bear. It was an ordinary sort of bear, brown fur, glass eyes and paws reaching out for a hug. For the first six months of Jason’s life, it sat on the bedroom table, then it found its way into his cot. Before long, Teddy was a part of Jason’s days as well as nights. It sat with him in his high chair while he tried to feed it Weet-bix. It rode in the trailer at the back of his tricycle. Sometimes, it even got in the bath with him. By the time Jason was ready for school, Teddy looked a lot more than five years old. One eye was missing. Most of the fur around its mouth had been scrubbed off by a toothbrush. One ear had been chewed by the dog next door, and there was a split in its middle that leaked grey stuffing.


“Teddy’s got fluffy blood,” Jason said.


His mother smiled. “He’s old because you’ve loved him so much.”


One day, while Jason was at school, his father picked up the teddy bear by one foot and said, “This bear is really disgusting. It should go out in the garbage.”


“I know,” said Jason’s mother. “But Jason’s devoted to the tatty old thing.”


“Look! It’s filthy!” said Dad. “A health risk!”


“I suppose we could always buy him a new bear,” Mum said.


So that’s what they did. The new bear was much bigger. It had glossy purple fur, a purple ribbon around its neck and when its paw was pressed, it laughed and said, Have a nice day!


Jason thought the new bear was funny. He slept with the new bear on one side of his pillow and old teddy on the other and during the night, his parents heard, Have a nice day! Have a nice day! in their son’s room.


They waited for about a week and then, when Jason was at school, Dad put old teddy in the rubbish bin with the empty tuna cans and eggshells.


Everything was fine until it was time for bed, and Jason said to his parents, “I can’t find old teddy.”


Mum looked at Dad.


“I’ve looked everywhere,” Jason said. “He’s not under the bed. He’s not in the toy box.”


“What about your new bear?” Dad asked.


Jason shrugged. “New bear is okay, but old teddy is my friend.”


His parents heard the rattle of drawers and cupboard doors as the search went on in Jason’s room. Mum said to Dad, “You’d better tell him.”


“He’ll get over it,” Dad said. “By tomorrow morning he’ll have forgotten all about it.”


Dad was wrong. The next morning, Jason went around the house section, looking for his teddy bear. When they called him in for breakfast, he said he wasn’t hungry. “I reckon that dog next door, ran away with teddy,” he said.


“There’s something you need to know,” Mum said, and she looked at Dad.


Dad put his arm around the boy. “Look, Jase, we bought you a new bear because we had to throw the old one out.”


Jason stared at him, his eyes filling with tears.


“It was worn out and dirty,” Dad said, “It was old.”


Jason pulled away from his father, and started to cry. “He’s old because I love him! I want him!” He stamped his foot. “Get him back!”


“You’re too big for teddy bears anyway,” said Dad. “Next year you’ll be wanting a soccer ball.”


“He’s my friend!” Jason yelled. “You can’t throw him away!”


Then Mum and Dad’s heard a familiar noise – the refuse truck at the gate. There was a loud thump as their empty rubbish bin was flung into the pavement, and Dad groaned. “Just what I need,” he said and ran out the back door. Down the path he went, out the gate and along the street after the refuse trick. A few minutes later he came back with old teddy, dirtier than ever and smelling of tuna.


Jason wanted to hug old teddy but his mother stopped him. “I’ll clean him first,” she said. “Have your breakfast,”


When Jason came home from school, old teddy’s stomach and ear were mended. He had a new eye that neatly matched the other, and he was clean, smelling of shampoo.


“Poor old bear has had a couple of rough rides,” Mum said. “First the rubbish truck and then the drier. It needs a hug.”


That night, the new bear slept in the toy box. Old teddy lay on the pillow with its mended ear against Jason’s nose, while Jason told it a story about a bear who had an adventure in a rubbish truck. “Friends never get too old for each other,” Jason said.

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