Tales of Bears in Ill-Fitting Hats

You may know that 2008 was predicted to be the year of bears in ill-fitting hats — and boy was it ever.

But what now, in 2009?

In 2009, we tell their stories.

'Misty', by halcyonsnow
Misty, by halcyonsnow

Misty stood still even as the last rays of sunlight disappeared behind whistling pines, waiting, careful not to move, not to lose hope. She ran over the words a thousand times in her mind — had she said them right? Had she missed even a single syllable? She couldn’t be sure. She didn’t think so, but she couldn’t be sure.

She stood there watching the valley turn from evening slowly into dark, chilly night. The he-bear did not return, though this was the place where he had last stood, she was sure of it. The branches were still broken from his passage, the grass flat from his weight.

She did not think she had said the words wrong — but sometimes, she reasoned, she told herself as the moon finally found her, the magic might take time.


'Underwater Bear', by Red Rocket Farm
Underwater Bear, by Red Rocket Farm

It had not been difficult for Brewster to find the chest; the instructions the men had given him were perfect, and the prize itself was no trouble for his long, strong arms. It clinked as he padded softly through the silty sea-bed, and he wondered what was in it — bottlecaps, perhaps? Jars full of stones?

The men had been very keen for Brewster to return to the surface the instant he’d found the treasure, but honey did not spoil; his reward would be equally sweet later, and the water felt cool on such a warm day. He’d never known he could breathe down here, never bothered to try — in fact it was downright peaceful, a nice break from all the shouting and frenzy up where the men waited. With nothing better to do, he sat and fumbled with the chest until it opened, hoping to find seashells perhaps, or possibly bottles filled with acorns.

Inside were hundreds of firm yellow disks. With horror he realized it was honey, frozen or hardened somehow into indigestible slices, and with haste he packed up the chest and raced again for the surface — these men had somehow turned it bad, and he hoped as he kicked that he was not yet too late to claim his wages.


'hhHeh Hur', by Ape Lad
hhHeh Hur, by Ape Lad

Madame Hoote shook her head. This experiment could never work; she didn’t know what the knuckleheads down at District were thinking. She knew the social dynamics in her classroom, the problems that could arise from mixing kids from different backgrounds; integration was all the rage nowadays, but she missed the pragmatism it had replaced.

One could not put a bear in the same room as a badger and expect them both to learn arithmetic at the same pace — for bears were slow by nature, while badgers were hyperactive. She could hardly teach Social Studies frankly without offending one party or the other (though most of the politically-charged stuff went right over the poor bear’s head). And, she thought with a sigh, she could have told those fools down at District that bears and badgers could simply not play dodgeball together without someone getting hurt.

It had been sad to see the little creature squeak in pain as it went flying across the playground, but perhaps, she thought, dusting the cone-hat from the closet and sitting the bear gently on the time-out stump, this sorry incident would finally teach someone a lesson.