Third person narrative mode. A young teenage boy finds himself going out of his mind and confiding in a priest who once abused him, after experiencing a strange form of time-travel that sent him back in time as a toy in his late grandfather's toy box.
An adolescent boy, no more than fourteen at the most, sat amidst the varnished pews with a worried look on his face. He fretted, and muttered under his breath.
Wait for the sinners to leave, he thought to himself. Impatience clung to his nerves. He muttered, like a chant, "One by one, the sinners leave. One by one. One by one."
When the last person around him got up to leave, the boy, not yet a man, looked up at the stainglass window beyond and above the Lord's Table and the choir loft. He kicked gently at the empty bench in front of him, and then stopped abruptly as the last sinner walked back down the aisle to leave the cathedral.
The adolescent was too caught up in his own mind to notice the dazzling architecture. He rose slowly, and made his way towards the booth.
As he closed the door and leaned back upon the red satin cushions, he cleared his throat. Shadows loomed overhead in the crevices of carved wood. The boy found himself wondering how much bloodshed and adultery had been spoken of between the thin, wooden walls.
"Bless me, Father," he said, "though I have not sinned."
Behind the grate, the old priest stuttered in shock. He recognized the voice, and took a moment to gather himself. Finally, he spoke, "Are you the last?"
"Yes, Father. I am the last."
"Why are you here, Theodore? To blackmail an old man?"
"No, Father," the boy said calmly. He sniffled. "We have always kept things quiet, and we always will."
"Aren't you a Protestant these days? Why do you come to Confession, my boy?" the priest asked, trying to say 'my boy' in the least condescending or awkward way possible. "You say you have not sinned. Do you plan to confess something you have not yet done?"
"I have returned because I have nobody else to talk to, Father."
"Why me? Surely, you know how much your mere presence torments me."
"Don't be defensive, Father," Theodore chided with confidence. "I am too old for your liking, now."
"But you were always special, Theodore. You weren't like the other choir boys," the priest's tone was bitter. "Begone."
"Please, Father, I have no one else..."
"Run to your therapist, Theodore, if you cannot run to the arms of your parents!" the priest had become angry.
"That is precisely what I can't do, Father," said Theodore. "I'd be in a padded cell, taking in pills that'd stop me from tying my own shoe laces."
The priest coughed.
"Father, I have seen things I can't explain. I cannot reconcile it with my faith, and I fear that I will see it once more."
"All right, then, Theodore. Tell me what it is that haunts your young mind."
The boy gulped. And then words came forth in a hysterical flow, not even afraid of judgment. For Theodore knew, that if this priest were to break confidence, he'd be quick to out the clergyman as the sexual predator that he was.
♥ ♠ ♦ ♣
I came home from school. It was a day like any other, until that point. I unlocked the door and entered, closing and locking behind me.
I set down my bag, and ran to the bathroom as fast as I could, without even taking my shoes off. And I did what I had to do, like any other day.
The room, this particular bathroom, is small. It has one door, with a lock, a sink, a mirror above, a small towel rack, a toilet and a picture of loons hanging on the wall. Not even a bathtub. A powder room, really. Pink walls.
But then this door, a second door, sort of -- well, it grew, right out of the baseboard. I watched it rise a full six feet, widening out before me, on the one wall with enough space.
Now, at this point, I had been washing my hands. And as I dried them in astonishment, I came to the conclusion that I must surely be dreaming. Maybe I had fallen asleep on the can, I thought, or perhaps back in math class before I'd even left school. Except, as I checked my senses, I knew it was far too vivid to be a dream.
As I inspected the door, which I knew I'd barely have room to open, I got to thinking about whether I had come into contact with anything that might make me hallucinate. Well, I hadn't shared food with anyone at lunch, and I certainly hadn't been ingesting anything out of the ordinary that I could recall. And so, I let curiousity get the best of me.
It was a shiny black door, like you might see on the outside of, the main entrance of, a modern suburban house. Except it had a handle much like the bathroom door, you see, because it locked from inside the powder room.
There were windows on the door, but they were fogged up and frigid to my touch, as was the door handle. I had to use toilet paper as an insulator to turn the handle, and pull it open. From the other side, came a bright light. It was like a huge, white spotlight was being shone at the door from the other side.
Well, the room was so small that I couldn't open the door all the way. So, I wedged myself in front of the sink and slipped through. I don't know what I could possibly have been thinking. Curiousity, I guess.
It was chilly air, it froze me to the bone, and I think I passed out.
When I woke up, I was not myself. It was dark. Warm, though. Room temperature, I'd guess, maybe a bit lower. I tried to blink, but had no eyelids. And everything else felt wrong, too. It left an unsettling feeling in my gut -- a gut that was, at that time, unnaturally soft. It took a moment for me to realize that I was wearing glasses, and that despite the fact that they seemed to improve my vision, they didn't seem to have lenses.
I brought my hands to my face, to find that I had no fingers. Just thick, rotund limbs covered in felt. It seemed as if I had no elbows, either, and thus my arms could not bend. However, as I flailed about, I discovered that I could quite comfortably move my arms in a complete three-hundred-and-sixty degree turn around my shoulder. It was frighteningly unnatural!
I tried to sniff, but found that I could not breathe. Without moving air, all I could sense was a faint trace of dust. My nose felt hard, not like I was stuffed up but like I had a prosthetic nose or something. I wondered if I was dead. My mouth was missing.
I brought one arm up to my mouth, somehow managing to bend it uncomfortably precisely where it lacked an elbow. I could feel thread where my lips should be, and that my skin was made of felt. And then I noticed, in the dim light, that where I should have fingers, there was three threads pulled tight.
I tried for my neck. And I used too much force. It turned around a whole one-eighty, and I found myself looking backwards at the blank wall I was sitting against. That's when I screamed, despite my lack of mouth, causing felt to vibrate below my nose.
That elicited a clamour of shouts and shushes, complaints and groans from everyone and everything around me.
I turned to my left, and saw a giant puppet. I wondered if I'd ended up in a theatre storage shed, stuck in some wierd costume. Except it was too surreal, the impossible turnings of my hands and head. And hadn't that puppet, just now, urged me to 'keep it down'? I was baffled. Was there someone inside it? It looked thin.
That's when I heard the loud footsteps. It was like a horror movie, when a giant beast stomps it's way between the skyscrapers of New York city. All around me, things quivered in fear. Then, the roof came off, and we were flooded with blinding light.
A giant thing grabbed me, as everyone else gasped. I realized later that it was a hand. It was wrapped around me in a tight grip that felt comfortable and loving against my rotund belly.
I stared up in amazement.
It was a giant face. The giant face of a child. Of a giant child. A boy, no more than nine I'd guess... were he of normal size.
"Put me down!" I yelled, and it came out in a rumbling bass to which I was unaccustomed.
"What's wrong, Teddy?" the gargantuan child murmured. His face was vaguely familiar, in an unsettling way.
Only my mother, when she was being overbearing, and my grandmother, called me Teddy. This was unforgivable.
"My name is Theodore, not Teddy!"
"Oh? Is that so?" the child looked thoughtful, as he set me down on a thick carpet, kneeling over me. "Well, aren't we fussy today, Teddy. Hmm... it seems you need to be fed before I fix you up."
He dug a hand into his pocket, licked his own lips, and pulled out a wooden jar of translucent liquid. He handed it to me. I could read the label on it: Honey. I grabbed it in both arms, and held it over my mouth, curious. I looked in.
There was something that looked like honey, yes, but it didn't drip towards me at all. However, I could taste it! Yes, I could taste it! It was yummy, sweet, and I felt sticky.
"Don't be a glutton, my Teddy," he chided, as he grabbed it from between my paws. "You're a regular Pooh bear."
The reflection in the child's eye was unmistakable. I was a teddy bear. His teddy bear. Taken out of the toy box.
His hand came towards me with a shiny needle. It looked like a fencing blade to me, given its relative size, and I realized in horror that it was intended for me. Sure enough, the thread that trailed behind it matched my threading.
"Now, I borrowed this from Mum, so do not go tellin'. She would get upset, I reckons, always muttering about Black Tuesday."
It dug into me with excruciating pain, and I began to growl by instinct -- an instinct that wasn't mine. It soon became a roar, as he wove it in and out of the thread at the side of my hip, gently pushing the loose cotton inside me.
"Dang nang it," he cursed, pulling back a bleeding finger to suck on. I suddenly felt sorry for him, as he dutifully continued to sew me up as best he could. And I struggled to wonder why I suddenly felt compassion for the giant boy who had just stabbed me several times with a humungous needle.
It was the way he'd said dang nang it. It was the way he dressed, as if he were from a black and white photograph in a history textbook. He had a face I'd seen before, I just knew it.
I tried to wince, as he finished the last few strokes, but I couldn't close my eyes. All I'd managed to do was scrunch my brow against my button eyes, and dislodge my wire-frame glasses.
"That's better, all fixed now," he said, and lifted me up and kissed me gently on the forehead.
I can only remember one person who ever kissed me on the forehead, and he was dead. Grandpa Andrew. His funeral was years ago... oh my, that black and white photograph of his younger days! I-I'm... I'm...
"What's your name, kid?" I growled in discomfort.
He cocked his head to one side, "You're forgetful, Teddy. I'm Andy, as always."
Realization struck me. I felt winded, right down to my cotton gut.
I am my grandfather's teddy bear, I thought to myself, as he pressed me up against his chest in a large hug, believing every word.
♥ ♠ ♦ ♣
"Theodore," the priest interrupted. "I grew up with your grandfather. I know that bear, I keep that bear in my office. Come, let me show you."
"I don't trust you," the adolescent sneered through the grate.
"Fine, fine. Have it your way. You came to me because you thought I might know the same magic of which you speak," the old man simpered. "You were correct. However, I don't see why you question your faith."
"Maybe if you'd let me continue."
"No, the sun has fallen. You should be home. Your mother wouldn't want to find you here, she'd think you'd strayed."
"Gender rehabilitation camp was unnecessary," Theodore said. "I have a girlfriend, so Mom won't jump to conclusions if she sees me here."
"This is no time to argue, boy," said the priest. "Give an old man his rest, and come back tomorrow - I'll listen."
"In this booth?"
"If you don't trust me to hear it anywhere else."
"You owe me an explanation, it seems," Theodore surmised.
"Indeed, but there are greater things at hand. You could even change the future," the old man said with glee, as he began to slide the grate closed.
"As a teddy bear?"
"Yes, but not single-handedly of course."
It shut, abruptly, and Theodore found himself alone.