The Three Bears
Once upon a time, there was a little crooked house in the middle of the Wild Game Preservation. Ivy grew up two of the lopsided walls, concealing just how badly the building tilted. Off-center under a bent drain pipe was a great door. Every morning at 7 o’clock, the great door opened, and out came Mama Bear carrying two lunch bags, her purse, dragging Baby Bear by the ear.
This particular morning, Mama Bear was at the end of her rope. And the day had hardly begun! She hadn’t slept well the night before and tired tears streamed down her face. Life was becoming a bad joke. If she didn’t get up on time, nobody would. Baby Bear cried how he couldn’t go to school. He was sick. Growling and scratching her claws on Baby Bear’s door, she bellowed, “Get up now or I’m going to give you something to cry about!” Despite her grumbling, he sat at the table over his porridge and stared, eventually falling back to sleep sitting up.
As they walked down the path to the school, she looked back up at her bedroom window. The house must be poorly insulated because from out here, she could hear Papa Bear up in their room, grunting in his sleep. She imagined him rolling back over in bed and felt an exhausted shiver shake her shoulders. He was a self-employed beekeeper, until he developed a nasty bee allergy. He had to give it up. Mama Bear feared that secretly the sedentary life pleased Papa Bear; he had no intention of looking for another job. So, when the bills began to pile up, Mama Bear had to take matters into her own hands.
She started working at the Wild Game Preservation and they even offered her this little cockeyed house, rent free, along the north wall. Visitors couldn’t get this far into the preserve, so they had privacy. The preserve directors loved the Bear family. Mama Bear was popular with the guests because she was a big girl. When she came through the trees roaring and standing on her hind legs, the spectators were impressed. Even Baby Bear would come on Saturday mornings and they performed as mother and son. Everybody loved that!
But the pace was starting to wear her out: working all day at the preserve, then picking up Baby Bear from school, getting him down to his homework, doing her housework and cooking the evening meal. Papa Bear didn’t even pick up his dirty socks! (The fine bear didn’t like getting his paws wet, so he took to wearing socks and boots.)
But Mama Bear had a friend at work. Her name was Goldilocks and she was Mama Bear’s confidant. Goldilocks lived in a big house under fir trees, along the south wall, in another secluded section of the preserve.
The two friends sipped their tea in the break room. That morning, Goldilocks looked particularly sad. Her mother had just passed away. She told Mama Bear that she was very lonely in that big house. But then Goldilocks perked up, eyes wide open, as if a light went on. She had an idea.
“Say, Mama Bear, you could come live with me if you’re fed up with that beast! My mother lived in the apartment upstairs and there’s a bath and two bedrooms, one for you and one for Baby Bear. Just think of what the beast will say when you move out!”
Mama Bear considered the idea. How happy she could be, if only she had an evening alone, maybe to read a book or doze in her chair. Just to put her paws up and not have to constantly pick up after everyone else. The sweet thought warmed her like her lavender tea with honey.
Now Papa Bear was dozing in his chair when she got home from work. She wanted to sit Baby Bear at the table to start his homework, but Papa Bear had made them all their evening porridge and the table was set. He must have then fallen asleep waiting for them to get home. Mama Bear was so flabbergasted at his efforts that she decided to sit and try some. She was hungry as a bear!
“But, Mama, it’s too hot. I can’t eat this,” said Baby Bear.
“Damn fool can’t get anything right,” she said.
She wanted to believe in Papa Bear, give him a chance, but her nerves were singed. He snored away in the chair and didn’t even notice that they were home. She impatiently stuffed a few things in her bag, grabbed Baby Bear by the ear and set off out the door with a massive, gut-felt “hufff”.
Goldilocks had made a creamy, thick pumpkin soup with fresh ginger and steaming nut bread with butter and honey. The whole house smelled of nutmeg and cinnamon when Mama and Baby Bear arrived. Candles burned on the lavishly laden table and Mama Bear knew she made a good decision. Up in their apartment, Goldilocks laid out fresh towels and made the beds up nice and a cheery fire burned in the fireplace.
“Goldilocks, how can I ever repay you?” Mama Bear said.
“Don’t you worry, Mama Bear. Have your meal and relax. I have to pop out for a bit. I’ll be right back!”
Mama and Baby Bear sat and ate in silence. Then Baby Bear started to cry.
“I forgot my blanket. And my homework! And I want to go home!”
“Aww, baby, it’s so much nicer here. And since when do you care about your homework? We’ll just play like we’re on vacation!”
“But my soup’s too hot, Mama!”
“OK, child. We’ll go get your things, and when we get back, the soup will be just right. But we’re coming back here! I want to stay here!”
Through the darkened forest, barely making out the path beneath their paws, Mama and Baby Bear padded back towards the north wall to the little crooked house. She opened the door and thought the house was empty. The two looked at the remains of the porridge on the table.
“Mama, someone’s been eating Papa’s porridge.”
“Someone’s been eating my porridge, too.”
“Mama, all my porridge is gone!”
They moved cautiously into the living room. “Someone’s been sitting in my chair,” said Mama Bear.
“Someone’s been sitting in my chair, too!”
Mama Bear grabbed a poker from the stand next to the fireplace and motioned for Baby Bear to get behind her. They were going upstairs.
“Someone’s been sleeping in my bed,” Baby Bear said, peering from behind his mother’s back into his room.
“Someone’s been sleeping in my bed, too, and here they are still sleeping in my bed. Papa Bear what do you think you’re doing with my best friend?” she said with her most frightening frown. Goldilocks pulled the blanket up over her head and shivered.
But as quickly as Mama Bear heated up, she cooled right down, snapped her fingers and smiled, eyes wide open as if a light went on. So, the dumb blonde wants that damned fool. This might just work out happily ever after!
“C’mon Baby Bear, that soup must be just right by now. Let’s get back to our new house.”
And Goldilocks never dared to stray towards the south wall of the Wild Game Preservation again.