It doesn't really have a title yet, but since I have to call it something, I'm calling it 'Theodore'. It was inspired by my neighbor, her giant teddy bear and someone standing in her yard wearing something out of a Miley Cyrus video.
Please note: the above mentioned famous person does not feature in this story. Eek. @_@
When she was four, Violet's father brought her home a teddy bear. Now, Violet's family was going through a hard time, but her father had saved enough from here and there to go to the thrift store and bring her home the bear he'd seen sitting there the week before.
She was elated. Her older sister, who was seven, turned her nose up at the idea of a second-hand bear and stomped off to her room, ignoring the gift her father had brought home for her.
Violet was enamored with the bear from the second she cuddled him to her chest. She kissed her father, told him thank you and that she loved him and love the bear and promptly ran off to play with her new friend.
Violet took the bear outside to her favorite spot in the yard, and they sat beneath the large oak tree and got to know one another. She introduced herself, and then waited for the bear to tell her his name. The bear sat and looked at her, but didn't say anything. She was alright with that, since she didn't much like to talk to people either.
That night, she wrapped her tiny arms around her bear and fell asleep. And then the dream came, the bad one that always had her waking up screaming. But this time, right as she was about to scream, a strange and wonderful thing happened. Out marched a tall boy in footy pajamas (complete with hood and ears), carrying a sword. He planted himself between Violet and the thing that always tried to get her in her sleep, and then proceeded to chase it away. Then he came back over to Violet, knelt before her and introduced himself as Theodore.
She stared at him for a moment, then threw her arms around his neck and gave him a tiny kiss on his cheek.
“Thank you,” she said simply.
Theodore smiled down at the small child, “You're welcome.”
Violet looked up at him, with his strange pajamas, and asked a question she was rather sure she knew the answer to, “You're my bear, aren't you?”
Theodore smiled down at her again. “Not quite, but very close. I’ll keep you safe from now on. Go back to sleep.”
Then Violet took his hand and they walked off, back into her dreamscape.
From that moment onward, Violet's childhood took a turn for the wonderful. She had tea parties and make-believe games and all sorts of adventures, all of which included her bear and Theodore.
When she was six, and her sister was nine, her sister found Violet talking to Theodore. Since Violet had the bear sitting next to her, her sister reasonably assumed it was the bear Violet was speaking to.
“Does he talk back to you, Violet?” her sister taunted.
Violet looked up at her sister's sneer and met it with a look of utter seriousness.
“Of course he does. Doesn't yours?”
Violet's sister stomped off. Her bear most certainly did not talk to her. Her little sister must be crazy.
Violet's sister told their parents about the supposedly talking bear. They assured her that it was just Violet's imagination, and that it was normal for small children to have imaginary friends. This mollified her, somewhat.
When Violet was ten, her father died in an accident at the factory he'd been working at and her world came crashing down around her. At the funeral and graveside service, she clutched bear to her chest, while Theodore stood behind her, his hands on her shoulders. He held her steady through the whole ordeal, and walked over to her father's grave with her after everyone else had gone off a little ways to the chapel for coffee and punch.
Violet felt her father's gaze before she actually saw him, standing there in his Sunday best on top of his newly filled grave. He looked at her and sighed. She went over and held his hand, much to her father's surprise. Theodore followed, close behind her. Violet's father looked at him, “Who are you?”
“Papa,” Violet said, “This is Theodore.”
Her father's newly dead eyes widened. “You're not imaginary...”
“No,” said Theodore, “I came home with the bear you gave her. It was my bear before.”
“Ah...” said her father, in sudden comprehension.
“So you will continue to keep my Violet safe?”
Theodore nodded, shook Violet's father's hand, and then stepped back a little ways.
Violet looked up at her father, “I'll be okay. And I think it's time for you to go. I love you, Papa.”
Then she hugged him fiercely until his shape shimmered away.
Then she cried, silent tears running down her face. Theodore came back to her side, took her hand and led her to a bench. He sat down beside her and hugged her until her tears stopped. He handed her his handkerchief to wipe her eyes on and blow her nose in. Then he tucked it back into his pocket.
Violet's mother found her sitting there on the bench after everyone had left. She collected her and they went home.
Because her father had died at work, the factory, in order to avoid any trouble, continued to pay Violet's mother the salary that Violet's father would have earned. The deal was to do this until Violet, as the youngest, had turned 18.
Her mother took the money and found solace in the unfortunate place that resides inside a vodka bottle.
Violet's sister, who had seemingly been born peevish, became even more-so. She took to staying away from the house and her remaining family as much as possible, staying mostly with friends.
Violet hadn't made many friends in school. The few she had made throughout the years always seemed to move away, and finally around the time she turned thirteen, she stopped trying to make friends. Teenagers, she discovered, were quite unpleasant for the most part. And frightfully stupid about so many things. She found she preferred the company of her books and of Theodore, who true to his promise to Violet's father, continued to watch over her and keep her safe, both in the waking world and in her dreams.
On Violet's fourteenth birthday, she was seated up in her favorite tree with her bear, whom she still cuddled in her arms as she slept, and Theodore. She was eating an apple and talking with Theodore about nothing in particular. Her sister crept to the bottom of the tree, and upon hearing her still talking with her “imaginary friend”, walked resolutely into the house and told their mother she was afraid that Violet was becoming unhinged.
Violet's mother was usually quite absent from her daughters' lives, but she worried at the news her youngest still talked to an imaginary someone she'd dreamed up in her early childhood.
She pulled out the phone book and made a call to a discreet doctor for an appointment.
The day before the appointment, Violet's sister was in a particularly foul mood. Of course her sister had to be crazy. If word got around school, what would her friends all think of her?
She walked past her younger sibling's open bedroom door, and upon seeing her curled up on her bed with a book and her bear, she shouted, “Tomorrow the doctor will see that you're crazy and I hope he locks you up for good!” Then she stormed out of the house.
Violet looked at Theodore, who was seated at the bottom of her bead, still dressed as he'd first appeared to her, in the hooded footy pajamas, with fuzzy ears on top. “Do you know what she's talking about?”
Theodore nodded. “Tomorrow, no matter what they ask you, you must not tell them about me. I can't keep you safe if they make you take those pills.”
Violet nodded. Her mother had started taking pills right after her father died, and all the light had gone out of her eyes. She promised Theodore that she would pretend to be their kind of normal.
And she did. The doctor, upon the conclusion of their visit, reassured Violet's mother that although she was quite shy, and should be encouraged to make friends, there was nothing wrong with her. There was no need to worry. She was a bright girl, even if she was lacking in the social skills department. Violet's mother was so relieved, she celebrated with an entire fifth of vodka in one go.
Violet spent the night in her tree with her bear and Theodore, talking quietly about the books she'd been reading and listening as he told her about books he'd read, once upon a time.
As the sky began to lighten, Violet climbed down out of the tree and got ready for school.
At school that day, something strange happened. Violet was in the lowest grade in the high school, and her sister was in the highest. They almost never saw each other, much to her sister's relief. Today, however, they ran almost right into each other. Violet's sister's lips curled in disdain, and she mockingly introduced her friends to her crazy sister. Violet didn't say much, aside from a polite, “Pleased to meet you,” which seemed to make her sister all the more angry.
That night at the dinner table, her sister asked Violet why she didn't get rid of the ratty old bear. Wasn't she too old for stuffed animals? Violet shook her head and said she kept him because she loved him. Her sister, not feeling terribly mature at the moment, retorted with, “Well if you love the damned thing so much, why don't you marry it?”
And as per usual, stomped off.
Violet's face took on a thoughtful expression. Then she smiled. When she finished growing up, she would marry Theodore. He was, after all, the only person she liked or who understood her or liked her. She would have to ask him what he thought about marriage, in a few years.
When Violet was fifteen, her sister came home one day from who knows where with a smirk on her face. Violet braced herself, because the smirk always meant that her sister was going to say something particularly nasty.
“Violet,” her sister began, “I have a story for you that I think you'll find most interesting.”
Violet looked at her sister across the room, and waited.
Violet's sister rolled her eyes, walked further into the living room and plopped down into the chair across from her younger sister.
“I know where your precious Theodore came from. I know why he's so ratty and why there are odd stains on him here and there.”
Violet held her breath.
“Funny thing, that you named him 'Theodore', you know?”
Violet watched as her sister leaned back into the chair and crossed one leg over the other at the knee.
“It seems that 15 or so years ago, there was an odd boy, probably mental or something, that lived in that big house up at the top of Copper Hill. Seems he had a teddy bear that he kept, even after he'd gotten too old for such foolishness. Kind of reminds me of you... Anyways, the way I heard it was that he killed himself one night while laying on his bed – sliced his arms up with razors, if you believe the story. I guess some of his blood got on his bear.”
Violet, still holding her breath, felt it leave her body in a great WHOOSH.
Her sister continued, “I guess the family housekeeper loved the boy like her own son, or something stupid like that, and kept the bear when the family got rid of all dead Theodore's things. Terribly embarrassed by his suicide, you know. Ugh, I mean, how ghastly!”
Violet sat still as a statue. Her beloved Theodore had killed himself. No wonder only she could see him. No wonder he'd been able to see her father at the grave. And that her father had finally been able to see him. She sighed.
“Anyways,” her sister continued, “Apparently the housekeeper died a few years after the boy killed himself, and all her junk was donated to the thrift store here in town. And our father bought you that stupid bear, stained with blood from some stupid kid that couldn't cope. What a ---”
Her sister's sentence went unfinished, because for the first time ever in her life, Violet had struck her. Open palmed, across the face, as hard as she could. The crack resounded through the room.
Once in her bedroom, she locked the door and shoved the chair from her desk beneath the knob, just in case. But her sister didn't come looking for her. She was too shocked to do much of anything for a while, but sit there in the living room, mouth agape and hand pressed to the print Violet had just left on her face.
The look on Theodore's face told Violet that he'd heard her sister's story.
She walked over to him and took his hands in her slightly smaller ones, “Is what she said true, Theodore?”
He slowly nodded, and then a single tear ran down his cheek. Violet hugged him tightly, and hesitantly, Theodore hugged her back. He had only ever been hugged by one other person before, and that person had died when Violet was four.
He found he rather liked being hugged by Violet. He could feel how much she loved him, it radiated off of her in waves of deepest red.
He gently untangled her arms from around him, and tucked her into bed with a kiss on the top of her head. Then he took up his post of the last eleven years, standing right beside her bed, to make sure that she stayed safe throughout the night.
For the first night since her father's funeral, Violet didn't dream at all. She just slept, peacefully, with her guardian, ever vigil, at her side.
The next year passed relatively quietly for Violet and her mother. Shortly after Violet had turned fifteen, her sister had had her birthday. And since her sister had turned eighteen that year, she took off with some friends, and they hadn't heard from her since.
When Violet was seventeen, her mother's liver finally quit trying to process the ever increasing amounts of alcohol her mother consumed. Violet's mother died, screaming and thrashing, in a hospital room. Violet was her only visitor, not including Theodore, since he was never far from Violet's side.
After the final scream had clawed it's way out of her mother's throat, Violet sighed and was about to leave to get the nurse when she heard a whisper behind her.
She turned back around. “Yes, mamma?”
Her mother's spirit looked around, confused. Then her gaze settled on her former body. Her eyes went wide.
“I finally had one too many, didn't I?”
Violet sighed and walked over to her mother, who was standing beside the bed that held her body.
“Yes, mamma, your body couldn't take it anymore.”
Her mother looked at her. “I'm sorry, sweetie, I’m so sorry.”
Violet nodded her head.
“I know, mamma, I know. It's okay. You were the best mother you knew how to be. And you made sure we had food. And you never harmed us. So it's okay. You'll be able to see Papa soon.”
It was then her mother noticed Theodore, standing unobtrusively in a corner.
“Who is that?”
Her eyes were wide again in fright.
“Mamma, this is Theodore. Papa asked him to keep me safe after he died.”
“Oh my god... he's real.”
The specter blinked, “You're real!”
Theodore nodded. “Yes. And I’ll keep Violet safe. You have nothing to worry about. So rest now.”
And with that, Violet kissed her mother on the cheek, and like her father had done so many years ago, her form wavered and then slowly vanished.
Violet went to get the nurse.
After the funeral, Violet and Theodore walked back to what was now her house. The lawyer of her mother's estate, what there was of it, had said that she'd left the house to Violet, since her sister hated the place anyways. Her sister would get some money, if they were ever able to locate her.
Violet was exhausted, but she showered and then pulled on her comfiest pair of pajamas. Theodore, ever the polite ghost, waited for her in the living room. He had made tea and brought out her favorite book of poems and her bear. He tucked her in on the couch with a blanket, her bear and a cup of hot tea, then sat next to her and read to her the words she'd so often read to herself and to him that brought them both such comfort, until she began to doze.
He picked up the tea cup and brought it to the kitchen. Then he went back to her side and stood guard over her until she awoke the next morning.
Violet's sister never came home, and she never heard from her again. She hoped she'd managed to find some piece of happiness she could claim as her own, somewhere far away from the town they'd grown up in.
On Violet's eighteenth birthday, she and Theodore had a tiny but happy celebration up in their oak tree. Violet ate far too much cake, and she fell asleep with her head on Theodore's shoulder, and with his arm around her.
Once in her dreamscape, she turned to Theodore.
“Will you stay with me? Forever?”
Theodore sighed and looked sad. He told her how he'd only been allowed to stay with her until she was grown up. That he'd probably have to leave soon. He didn't really know how this all worked, since he'd never done it before.
Violet felt her chest clench at the thought of not having Theodore's company, ever again.
“I don't want you to go.”
“Why?” he asked.
“Because I love you. I have loved you since I was very small, but now I love you more. I am in love with you now.”
Theodore smiled another sad smile, for he too had loved this girl since she was small, then later he'd fallen in love with her as well.
“I love you too,” he said simply. Then he began to shimmer and fade, just as each of her parents had done.
Violet was not having it this time, however. She grabbed him and hugged him to herself, and he stopped shimmering. Then she kissed him. Not one of the sweet, innocent kisses on the cheek that she'd given him throughout her girlhood, but a kiss filled with passion, full on his mouth.
He stopped shimmering and fading entirely, more from being too startled to finish what he'd been doing, than anything. He'd never been kissed before. At least, never like that.
It was the best thing he'd ever felt in his life... or his after-life. It was even better than Violet's hugs.
“Violet, I don't know how to stay in the waking world with you. I don't know if I can.”
She smiled up at him and told him not to worry. That she knew what to do. That all he had to do was guard her while she slept tonight, like he always did.
Theodore promised he would guard her for one more night, and told her that once she awoke, what would happen, would happen.
Violet took Theodore's hand, laced her fingers with his, and they walked off deeper and further into her dreamscape than they'd ever previously adventured. They explored new places and met new creatures and new people they'd never known had existed there before.
There was only one difference between Violet's previous dreams and this one. With all of her other dreams, Violet had made the daily decision to wake up once morning came. This time, however, she made the decision to not wake up. Ever again.
And so Violet and Theodore, bound by his promise to guard her and keep her safe for one more visit to her dreamscape, found their way to stay together. For always.
And they are still there to this day, roaming hand in hand, having adventures, talking, laughing and kissing (amongst other things). And there they will remain, free in their love and in a world of their choosing.
I hope you enjoyed that, and that you have a lovely and love-filled Sunday.