Never wake the mother bear.

Prompt by The Last Astronaut:

”and that’s when he dropped the baby.”

***

Alexander was looking out the window with a white little teddy bear curled up in his lap — his little sister, dressed in the polar bear onesie he’d chosen, sniffling sleepily in his arms. The morning was foggy, the ground barely in vision as he stared out the sixth storey window, looking for shapes in the clouds to pass the time.

His little bear squirmed, opening one eye from the pale light pouring inside.

“Shhh,” he whispered, placing his finger on his lips. “Mommy’s still sleeping.”

He leaned down to kiss her forehead, cradling her to his chest. She had started crying a few hours earlier so he’d brought her to the window after piling up books on the floor to be able to snatch her up from her crib. 

He looked over his shoulder to find his mother snoring away at the corner of the room, reclined on his kid-sized, shaped-like-a-panda-about-to-hug-you armchair, a green glass bottle with a long neck placed by her side. She loved those; it always had to be green. His Dad had once brought a clear one and she’d thrown it into the wall.

“You’re going to love her,” he murmured against his polar bear’s cheek, pressing his cold nose to her warm one. “She loves playing hide and seek. And she’ll dance with me, too. Sometimes she’s angry but when she sleeps you’ll love her.”

She raised her head a bit, blowing air through her closed lips, making Alexander chuckle. 

“And she loves bears too,” he murmurs, leaning over to growl against her little tummy.

She shut her eyes tightly, her face turning crimson. She must’ve been hungry.

“No no, Claire. No crying. Do you want me to get your bottle?”

A little sound escaped from his baby sister.

“Let’s go, Claire Bear.”

He smiled, hopping off the windowsill, tiptoeing towards the door. He glanced at his Mommy, crouching down to move the green bottle with the long neck. She stirred from the quiet screech on the floor, her head dropping to one shoulder. It would be hours at least till she was close to waking up. 

He held Claire close, shushing her cries, starting to hum the song his mother would play on the piano. The hall was full of scattered clothes and various items, hairbrushes, green bottles, soda cans. He kept lifting his knees up high, going through the daily obstacle course, his arms growing tired of clutching his little bear to his warm chest. He pressed his cheek to hers, trying to soothe her quiet yelps, her cheek hot from hunger. 

He looked up to find the kitchen chairs lying on their sides on the floor, blocking his way to the refrigerator. He drew his tongue over his upper lip to concentrate, holding Claire up while trying to get over the chairs. He pulled his leg upward from the other side of the second chair but it wouldn’t move. He switched Claire to one arm, holding her to his shoulder as he leaned down. His pajama pants were stuck on a nail. 

“Hold on, Claire Bear,” he murmured, pulling at the fabric.

It came off suddenly, causing him to tip over to his back, making Claire slip from his arms and to the carpeted floor in a muted thud, his baby bear growling out in pain. She started crying loudly, her face hot and red, her little arms and legs squirming helplessly in the air.

Alexander crawled to her, cradling her close. “Shhh,” he whispered, kissing her cheek. “I got you. You’re okay.” 

He held her close but she wouldn’t stop crying, the high-pitched wails echoing back from the empty walls. He could hear his mother’s footsteps down the hall, making him hold Claire closer to his face, her forehead pressed to his cheek.

 

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