This story is by Sandra Yoong-Chia and was part of our 2020 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Hi there, nice of you to come see me.
Wait! What am I talking about? You are probably just my imagination. Again. Not real, right? Or are you? Has someone finally come to get me out of this dark, forgotten place?
Oh, where are my manners? Let me introduce myself. I’m Kenny Koala. She used to call me Mister K. What did you say?
Who is she? She was my playmate, my sunshine, my everything. Her name was Rosie. The first day we met I was so excited I almost jumped out of my box. She squealed when she saw me and gave me the biggest hug her six-year-old arms could manage. It was love at first sight. We spent all day together, going on adventures; being cowboys one day, astronauts the next. Sometimes cooking up a storm in her play kitchen, other times picking flowers in the garden. Such fun. We went everywhere together. My life was complete.
Ah-choo! Excuse me, you would think that the inside of a box would be dust free but somehow dust finds its way, even into this enclosed space. Cough! Enough about this horrible place.
You know, my Rosie was a beautiful girl with long, straight brown hair, big bright brown eyes with the cutest button nose, a lovely smile with an infectious laugh. I never knew what she saw in me; all shaggy and brown, large ears, paws too small for my fat body. But she told me she loved me, every night before she fell asleep.
What was that? Did you hear that? My ears are not what they used to be and being inside here makes it worse.
Anyhow, when Rosie started school, my days were spent more with leading the other toys. You see, because Rosie loved me best, I was head toy. We toys, worked together to help make her life as wonderful as possible. While Rosie was away, we would set to work finding lost things or making little surprises. Toys don’t just sit around doing nothing all day, you know.
Don’t look so surprised that we toys can do things and move about. It’s called ‘connected-ness’. It’s our connection with the child who loves us which enables us to be ‘alive’, as you people call it.
My connection with Rosie became less as time went on. She played with me less, got friends and talked about clothes and boys. I was moved from top spot on her bed to her table, then to the top of the toy box. However, I survived the annual toy clear-out, every time. She would say, “No, Mum, Mister K stays. He is precious, my first soft toy from Dad and I want to remember Dad.”
I was doing my job as her toy, helping her remember her father. Just that statement was enough to maintain my ‘connected-ness’ to Rosie for the next few years. Then it happened; she stopped telling me she loved me. I wondered if it was because my ears had lost its fur, I’m missing a couple of claws and my nose is loose. One day, she put me in this box and left. I didn’t know what to think.
Something is moving outside these cardboard walls! Oh no, this is it. This is me getting tossed out, finally. I will never see my Rosie again. Sob!
No! I’m Mister K, Rosie’s beloved Koala Bear! I’m getting out of here! Come on K, you can do this. Focus! Think about Rosie and how much you love her. If I can just kick the cover off this stupid box, I can roll out. Kick! Kick! Kick! Thunk! Thud!
Oh, the light! No time to stare, now I must rock the side of this miserable container. I have to see my Rosie again. This side, then the other, left, then right… slam! Clung!
“Mama! What’s this?”
“I’m not sure.”
A hand gently picks me up and I see a woman’s face. She looks kind, with her brown eyes.
“Oh, it’s an old teddy!” says the woman.
“He looks funny!” says the little girl. That voice, it sounds familiar. “Hey, Suzie, come see, we found this ugly teddy!”
I can see they are a mother and a daughter looking at me. The little girl has short brown wavy hair and bright brown eyes, like my Rosie.
“Coming!” another little girl appears. I know that face or at least parts of it; she has straight long brown hair and that same cute button nose which my Rosie had.
The mother, who has blonde hair, picks me up and turns me over, “He looks ok for his age, don’t you think, Jackie?” She hands me over to the short hair girl.
Jackie moves my loose nose and feels my bald ears, she shrugs her shoulders and hands me to the other little girl, the one called Suzie.
Suzie holds me up to the light and then strokes my belly. Oh, that tickles, “I like him.”
“I think this is the box he was in. There’s a note.” says the mother, “Property of Rosanna Wong, Mister K, my beloved Kenny Koala, present from Dad, 1946. Oh, this belongs to your Grandma Rosie.”
“Really?! What’s it doing here?” Suzie asks, as she sits me on her lap. Oh, how nice to be in someone’s lap again.
“I don’t know. Shall we bring this with us when we go visit Grandma Rosie at Shady Oaks?”
“Yes!” the girls say together.
I would faint if I could. They know my Rosie; they are her family! The mother dusts off the box, puts me back inside and gently closes the cover. I can feel the box being carried around for a while and then left somewhere. Over the next few days, I hear someone stroking the box, every now and again.
Then the box moves. Oh, I can hear a car. We are going to see my Rosie!
The top opens and I ready my biggest smile on my stitched mouth.
A man’s face fills the opening of the box.
“Do you think you can repair him?” says the mother.
The man lifts me out of the box. He lowers his glasses and stares at my ears, nose and paws. He sighs. “He’s quite badly damaged.”
“Please, won’t you at least try?” asks the mother, “He doesn’t have to look perfect, just slightly better. It would mean a lot to my girls. This belonged to their grandmother and the fact that she kept it hidden in the attic all these years shows that it meant a lot to her.”
The man sighs again, “Ok. I will try but I am not guaranteeing anything.”
“Oh, thank you so much. That’s fine.”
So I am left with the man. He is a nice man but the process to fix me is a painful one. I will not tell you the details. It’s enough to say that I don’t want to be fixed again for the rest of my life. But I must say, I do feel like a brand-new koala.
The mother and the girls come to pick me up from the repair man. Suzie picks me up and lowers me into a colourful paper bag which has been stuffed with nice soft tissues. How lovely! Then we are in the car.
“Mama, are we there yet?” asks Jackie after some time.
The car stops, the girls jump out, the mother carries the paper bag I am in. I can hear a door opening.
“Grandma Rosie!” they both yell out. “We have a present for you!”
“Hi Mum!” says the mother, as she sits down and hands the bag over.
“What’s this?” asks a voice I would know anywhere. It’s my Rosie!
She opens the bag and pushes the tissues aside. She gasps, “Oh!” she reaches in, lifting me out, “Mister K!” she sets me on her lap and strokes my ears like she used to. “Where did you find him? He looks better than I remembered.”
“We were in your old house, Grandma Rosie. Helping Mama clean so we can live there. We found Mister K in the attic.” says Jackie.
“It was my idea to get him fixed.” says Suzie.
Rosie holds me up, her bright eyes shining with tears, “All these years, I knew he was in the house somewhere, but I forgot where my mother had put him after I went to college. I never thought to look in the attic.”
She puts me on her lap again and reach out her arms to her granddaughters, and I am squashed in their group hug. “Thank you for being so kind to Mister K and to me, and for helping us find each other again.”
“I love you, Mister K.” Rosie kisses the top of my head.
She does love me, even after all these years.
Page Craw says
So sweet! I became emotional over the reunion. I had a collection of stuffed animals and I kissed each one before going to sleep. It was very important not to miss a single one. Somehow, in moving away from my childhood home to a foreign country, my Teddy was lost. That was a thousand years ago, and I still wish I could see him. These associations from childhood are powerful. Thank you, Sandra, for your story.
(I have a Rosie in my story, “In the Midst of Summer.”