I was nine when I first received Arabella, my beloved teddy bear. She was brown in colour and had beady black eyes, her body was soft and huggable and she was my best friend. She always said, ‘Do you want a hug?’ when you pressed against her belly and I’d give her one every time, she also had teeth that always put me off, a perfect line of pearly whites hid underneath the mouth flaps and when I’d opened it; I felt like she suddenly became someone else. I’d always wondered why she had such a human name, not Sparkles or Cuddles but Arabella.
I never noticed it though. I was nine and didn’t care much; I just played with it for hours and hours as if it was a real person. But as I got older, I started to forget her. I didn’t bring her with me; obviously, I was in college, and I didn’t play with her anymore. I just left her on my shelf before forgetting about her altogether.
It was only a few years later that I’d remembered Arabella’s existence. I was alone in my dorm doing a long project about the royals of Britain when I came across Lady Arbella Stuart. Arbella. Arbella. The name stuck with me for the rest of my studies before I had to find out why it kept ringing a bell. I stopped and closed the books then took out my phone to search up the name in my camera roll.
The first photo was of me and the teddy bear sitting in the middle of my local park on the soft grass and the second was of the bear in my basement with its pearly whites shining against the dark background. Arabella! That’s where! I forgot all about her. I kinda miss her too, I wondered if she’s still there.
I finished as much of the assignment as I could and headed for bed before my cacophonous roommate could arrive back.
The following morning, I got up early and quickly to change and check my schedule for the rest of the month. I didn’t have anything due for the next two weeks, which was lucky, and I’d had holidays in a week so I decided to call my mother, whom I didn’t talk to for a year now. We talked about how I was doing and little personal things, and most importantly, how she was willing to pay for the plane tickets to return home for a few days.
It was set, the tickets were paid for and my three-day leave was granted. I was already on my way, reuniting with the people of my childhood. The trip back home wasn’t too stressful either; it took a mere four hours to get everything done, from getting up in the morning to landing in Sioux City, Iowa. I rode the bus around town until I reached my lakeside home.
The weather was decent, a few white clouds scattered across the baby blue sky with the sun, a blinding fireball over me, accompanied by a light breeze, balancing the heat of the sun. I strolled through the neighbourhood, after I was dropped off at a deserted bus stop, in search of a dark blue craftsman style house with a bubbly golden retriever puppy waiting for me at the gates.
But what I found was the opposite of my expectations, my house wasn’t dark blue anymore, it was a murky complexion of lake green; there was no dog of any kind and the once thriving apple tree was now a dead, dried up wooden stump in the front yard.
I was shocked but felt like my expectations were a bit too good to be true; of course, the neighbourhood wasn’t going to look the same. Even Mr. Parker’s newsagents down the road closed down, and he’d been open for twenty-three years before I left.
The place felt the same but wasn’t the same. 44 West Lake Drive was where I stopped at. I had to jam the key into the gate to make it open, I could’ve just jumped it but I wasn’t a kid anymore and surely that would’ve caused some suspicion in this ghost town, especially since I probably wasn’t recognised for the kid I was anymore. I slowly walked past the dead garden and up to the front door.
The house inside was equally dead as the neighbourhood outside. It was as if there was a zombie apocalypse or nuclear evacuation because the house was virtually empty and so poorly maintained. I wandered through the home and set my bags in what used to be my old playroom; it was then turned into a library.
I sat on the couch and waited for my mother to come home but I knew it take a long time so I decided to check to see if my bedroom underwent any changes while I was gone.
I opened the creaky door, that always gave me anxiety when my mother opened it in the middle of the night to check up on me, and walked in slowly, feeling like a guest in my own childhood home. Everything was where it was when I left for college, surprisingly, and even my bed covers seemed untouched.
I searched thought the closet until I came across a small bear, the shade of milk chocolate, with beady black eyes and a row of teeth that didn’t leave much like everything else in my room. Everything about the bear was the same, all except for the fact that the fur seemed to grow a few centimetres.
I picked the idle doll up and hugged it tightly against my chest and felt it hug me back, but it was most likely just my imagination or a placebo effect taking place. The bear felt a bit grainy and dry but it was left in the same spot for years without being touched, so I just assumed it was some dust that gathered up on and between the fur strands. I wiped the particles off on my jeans quickly and decided to bring the bear to the old washing room, aka the kitchen.
I put on top of the washing machine and started to get the soap out when I heard the clicking of the door lock and the sound of footsteps shuffling against the rugged carpet.
I stopped and rushed over to see my mother standing by the doorway, with a huge smile plastered on her face and her arms wide out ready to receive a hug the moment she saw me. We sat down and caught up on things that we had missed on and laughed the day through.
We went for a walk together, then visited a close childhood friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in years and finished the night with two large cups of frozen yoghurt.
The next two days were pretty fun and nostalgic but the third day in was where my mother hit me with the truth. She sat me down on my bed and held both my hands in hers.
“I think it’s time to tell you this,” Mother started.
“Tell me what?”
“What about her?”
“She’s um... It’s kind of hard to explain. Remember when I told you that Uncle Thomas died?”
“Well, we cremated him. And there was no one else that would take his ashes but me, and I couldn’t find a vase so I put the ashes inside Arabella.”
I couldn’t believe how selfish this woman in front of me was sounding. She couldn’t find a vase? Really? So the most logical place to put it is inside of an old childhood teddy bear, just great. I sat in silence with my jaw dropping down as I thought about it.
Maybe that would explain the grainy texture between the fur. But it had teeth and longer fur than before. Why was it called Arabella anyway?
I asked my now relived mother the last question that I thought of.
“She was called that because my first baby, your sister, was originally named that. But... she was aborted.”
“Why?” I asked, almost angry at this point.
“I don’t know, I just wasn’t ready.”
“I could’ve had a sister!”
“I know, I know. And I’m sorry about that, but I got the teddy as a replacement sister for you when you were taken out of the hospital. I just couldn’t stand the guilt of it after she was thrown into the trash.”
“And you just had to put your insecurities on my childhood, really? Words can’t describe how much of an evil person you are. First, my sister, then my bear, then the ashes inside the bear. Is there anything else for me to hear? Maybe you wanted to abort me too, but didn’t get the chance? Hm?”
“No, I’m so, so sorry. I-”
“You know what? I wish it was you who died instead of Arabella. I bet she would’ve made a better family than you,” I said before exiting the bedroom in a raging fury.
I sat down alone at the kitchen table with a glass of orange juice and a microwaveable pizza roll. It was silent at first before I heard the sound of squelching and chewing coming from my bedroom. I ignored it for the first few minutes, but it became so noisy and weird sounding that I felt almost obliged to check it out.
I walked cautiously over to my door and slowly opened it to reveal my teddy bear on top of my mother’s cadaver, eating her inside out through a massive gash in her belly area. The head of the bear quickly twisted a full three hundred and sixty degree turn and stared at me with beady black eyes and a row of, now, blood stained pearly white teeth.
“Your wish came true. Do you want a hug?”
Written by Shanethedonut