The Bear

From the kitchen window, Melissa quietly watched her 9 year old son as he walked down the gravel driveway toward the front door. Silhouetted against the morning sun he walked slowly, eyes turned to the ground, mop like blonde hair flicking lightly in the warm breeze. Clutched in his hand was his sister's favourite bear, a small bundle of brightly coloured red and yellow fur that she had lovingly named Bear. Mathew had never liked the name, it was stupid to call a bear, Bear. At the time he had protested, his sister had cried and his mother had told him off, explaining that she could name her toy whatever she pleased. 

Now though, Matthew could see that Bear was a good name, bears were strong and fearless creatures, he had learnt a lot from Bear over the last year.

-*-

It was a glorious day, blue skies stretched as far as the horizon, the Sun hanging heavy in the sky cast a golden sheen across the lawn where Matthew and his younger sister were having a tea party. All their dearest friends were there, Ragdoll Molly and her husband Chris Crocodile, Bertie the Viking with his shiny broadsword, Buzz Lightyear with working laser and pop-out wings, and Bear. A cooling breeze rustled through the grass around them, bringing with it the sounds of birds in the hedge behind them. 

Mathew had felt he was getting too old for this kind of thing, but he played along anyway, sipping at the clearly imaginary liquid contained within the plastic cup as his sister offered a lump of make believe sugar to Bertie. Even though she didn't seem to understand why no self-respecting Nordic warrior would want sugar in their tea, Mathew loved his sister dearly and enjoyed the times when they weren't calling each other names or pulling each others hair.

Matthew smiled a smile that broke into a slight chuckle, followed by full on laughter. His sister had politely asked Chris Crocodile to dance and had proceeded to twirl around, hand in hand with the cuddly toy until she lost her footing and toppled over onto the grass, giggling as she fell. Apologising to Chris for the mishap and making sure he was ok she placed him back at his wife's side.

A flash of orange fur caught Matthew's eye, their cat Misty had been sunning herself all day in his peripheral vision, the sharp movement surprised him, as did the screech that accompanied it. Somehow the noise didn't sound normal for the cat, lengthier, and louder than it should be.

As his head turned toward the disturbance he found himself blinded by the white flash of sunlight reflected in steel. Cold, hard needle points bounced on his bare forearms and face for a split second, leaving an oddly liquid sensation on his skin. Deafening bangs and crunches reverberated through the floor and a rush of uneven airflow whipped past, knocking him to the floor. A split second of disorientated silence followed, lying on his back for what seemed like an age, all senses confused to the point of shutdown.

He heard the screams first. Familiar voices making unfamilar sounds. Matthew pushed his hands into the grass and awkwardly raised himself up. The sounds he could hear didn't match what he saw. Uneven furroughs of dirt scarred the ground. Gravel crunched under hurried feet. Shards of glass and the jagged edges of torn metal glinting in the waning sunlight. The wail of sirens in the distance.

His head turned, an involuntary action brought on by a strange, yet apparent direction of travel. He saw the car, a mangled heap of steel, wheels slowly rotating in the free air above them. He saw the man, crawling out through the shattered passenger side window. He saw his father, stood in the road, waving wildly at the approaching blue lights. He saw his mother, knelt on the ground, sobbing. He saw his sister's body, lying limp and motionless on the ground, twisted, broken.

-*-

Matthew ran his fingers over the raised pink marks that littered his arm, the flesh had healed but the scars remained. The memory of that day a year ago played over and over. He had thought they were safe, they knew the rules, they hadn't played near the road, they weren't running around, why did it happen?

Matthew gently placed Bear on the grass. Standing proudly on his hind legs, bright red and yellow fur glistening in the sun, a memory. A tribute.