by Barbara Lovric

Bear was my friend, best and only. With me always. Soft fur satin against my wet cheek, I told her all my secrets. The rest, she saw. Bear didn’t judge. She knew there was nothing I could do. Knowing that, I could let it be done.

Bear couldn’t talk, her mouth was sewn shut, but her never-closing, button black eyes assured me everything would be alright. That’s where I looked. Each time. Every time. In Bear’s eyes. In Bear’s eyes, I was a jewellery box princess, spinning; the angel atop the Christmas tree, glowing; a mermaid flicking her tail, glimmering.

Sometimes, after, when I cried in Bear’s arms, snot snarling her fur, I’d hear Bear in my head. Was I mistaken? Hearing things? Imagining? Her voice was deep and growly like a bear. Not scary though. Never. Not to me.

If I had claws, Bear said, I’d scratch his face off. But Bear had no claws, only soft pads of velvet and those could do nothing but stroke. Stroke the sticky puddles and pain away.

If I had teeth, Bear said, I’d bite that thing off and swallow it whole. But Bear had no teeth, only red thread for lips and pink felt for a tongue.

How could you not hear? Why were you not afraid? Why did you smile? Didn’t you know Bear wanted to rip you to pieces?

Each time now. Every time. Bear growled and roared in frustration. It hurt my head and heart. So, I helped her. I had to. I was scared at first. I didn’t want to hurt Bear, but she told me what to do. Assured me everything would be alright. So, I did it. Snuck scissors, needle, thread. Knives. Made Bear some claws. Some teeth.

And Bear was as good as her words in my head. She clawed his face. Tore that thing off and ate it.

I miss Bear. Miss her a lot. But they wouldn’t let me bring her. Said she was evidence. What’s that? She’s not evidence. She’s Bear. My friend, best and only.

Barbara Lovric is an American expat living in Ireland. A previous Novel Fair winner, she’s had flash published here and there and was short-listed for the 2017 Over the Edge New Writer of the Year, and long listed for the 2017 Bare Fiction Prize. She is also a reader and Senior Editor for TSS Publishing, UK.