The clearance tag was ripped off of the side of his stomach. Soft voices were being whispered, small footsteps, a faint beeping . . . and suddenly he was shoved in a small bag with see-through yellow tissue paper wrapped around him. Muffled cries, cooing of the audience, and he was on the move. A tired woman's voice asked about the gift and suddenly he could see the light, the crinkled paper being removed silently.
The thing was tiny and pale, swaddled in a striped blanket, tucked in the arms of a woman. The woman with hazel hair curled into a bun at the top of her hair, loose tendrils falling into her cheeks gently reached him and lowered him onto the baby. The thing was warm and its cries subdued, a small, chubby fist reaching out to him.
"Do you like him, Annie?" someone questioned in a content voice, and he was wiggled around in the face of the small human. He looked into the green eyes of the small girl.
He was declared Beary.
Seven years, and he was already nearly coming apart at the seams. Loose thread on the joint between his shoulder and upper arm, his face no longer fluffy and new. Annie squeezed him to her smooth, puffy cheeks and she ran across the lawn, in hot pursuit by her brother. She squealed and ducked as he nearly tagged her on the back. She started pumping her arms to gain speed, Beary in her hand as she did so. He was going back and forth, back and forth.
Her brother shot like a burst of lightning and extended his hand, nearly reaching, almost there . . . and he yanked Beary.
Annie stopped in her tracks and let out a bloodcurdling scream. Her brother began stammering his apologies of "I didn't mean to" and "I'm so sorry, Annie" but she was still in a puddle of tears.
Annie's mother stitched Beary up.
She used an old blue baby skirt of Annie's and wrapped it around him tight and sewed it shut, keeping all of his broken and weary limbs in one place.
Annie was fourteen.
She was currently throwing everything into a pile. Clothes, pajamas, book, toothbrush, underwear, pillow, sleeping bag. Beary knew what this meant; a sleepover.
He waited to be picked up and added to the pile to be placed in the drawstring bag along with everything else, but it never came.
Beary heard the door slam.
An awful sobbing sound filled the small dorm. Twenty year old Annie ran to the small cot she called a bed and held on tight to Beary. Her cheeks were smooth against his old baby skirt that was still holding all of his limbs together and her fat tears were warm as they plopped onto Beary's worn-down face.
Her whole body was trembling, her mascara smudged, lipstick smeared. Annie pulled her knees to her chest and cried; cried and cried and cried and cried so much that Beary wasn't sure if she was ever going to stop. She was sniffling, her chest heaving.
Beary thought she was alright when she rolled off of the bed, but instead was startled as she grabbed the picture frame on her bedside table and smashed it against the wall.
She stomped on the pieces and hurled more frames and cried and cried and all Beary could do was watch, watch and soak up the tears that fell like a sponge left out in the rain.
Beary was stuffed into a box.
It was dark and cramped, cluttered with clothes and pictures and a few books. He heard the mumble of voices, a hushed excitement, and he was confused.
He felt the sensation of being lifted, and suddenly dropped. A book dug into his side and a pair of jeans blocked his view of the thin slit in the box.
It was bumpy, and he recognized it as a car. A chatter of laughter, Annie? and a man's voice, one he faintly recognized.
A forever later, the bumping and bouncing stopped. The soft voice of Annie's faded.
He was lifted again, dropped, and then blinded by light. Big, coarse hands ruffled through the box, grabbing Beary and laughing.
"You brought it?"
"Of course I did, Benji," Annie (now twenty five) refuted, and suddenly he was back in the warm, gentle hands of Annie. They were in an unfamiliar, clustered room with a mess of boxes everywhere and she put Beary on top of one as if to let him look over everything. He watched them unpack box after box until the glow coming through the window diminished to nothing but a faint shadow. The pair spread out their sleeping bags and fell asleep facing each other.
Beary was still on the box and watched.
It was their ten year wedding anniversary.
They booked a night at a hotel and everything was packed and set. The kids were being babysat by the neighbors. Beary just hoped he could come along. Just this once.
He was lifted off of the dusty shelf and placed into the intimidating suitcase and he felt a thrill rush through him.
Annie was thirty six now.
The minute they arrived, Beary was taken out with the rest of the clothes and hair products that had been stowed away with him. He was set on the bed.
He was alone for more than an hour. At least five. When they came back, they sat on the bed; Beary went unnoticed.
He didn't know what happened. It might have been Benjamin's elbow or Annie's hand when she got up but all he knew was that he was on the ground. Beary had rolled under the hotel bed.
Day turned to night and suddenly Beary heard the two packing.
"Is that everything?" he heard Benjamin's rough voice ask.
"I believe so," Beary heard Annie reply. He heard the door close with a click.
A maid came in and changed the sheets and he still went unnoticed. it was only when a small child, black, ruffled hair and chubby cheeks, glanced under the bed in the midst of a hide-and-seek game a few nights later was he found.
The parents allowed the small child to keep him after they checked with the front desk and lost and found and before Beary knew it, he was stuffed into another suitcase. Beary felt a rush of panic and was suffocated in this new and unrecognizable scent of baby powder and coffee.
Beary could feel all of the dried tears of past Annie's and wished he could cry out. Escape. Annie, please. This was wrong. All wrong. But there was nothing he could do.