When you grow up in the same house on the same street for most of your life, you expect it all to stay as it is. Even my young self would agree. My friends are here. My parents are here. The elderly neighbors who sneak me candy are here. You expect it all to stay as it is. The only thing different should be fun.
I look where I am now. Everything I knew was wrong. Like the happiness I once knew was nothing more than a painting only for someone to shove the fist through it ripping it to pieces.
My days of being 7 years old was the point I thought life would always be. My mom would go out on her morning jogs. My dad would go to work. My neighbors tending to their yard in their retirement years. The rest of the day would play out with me either going to school or having fun. Nothing more than carefree days.
One day, my mom came home from her morning jog with a teddy bear on her head. She said it just fell on her head as she was running. "It might have fell from a tree" is what she thought. The bear looked as though it came out of a cotton candy machine, all purple, pink, & blue with those plastic eyes that just stare at you.
Being a 7-year-old boy, the teddy bear didn't interest me. My mom didn't seem like someone who would keep a bear either. If it didn't help tone her muscles, she doesn't care for it. To my surprise, she decided to keep it until she found someone who might want it. She made the point of how good the bear was from having fallen out of a tree. I had to agree. No stuffed animal would in such good condition if it was stabbed by tree branches.
For a week, my mom held onto the bear until she found someone who would take it as she said she would. As the month went on, my mom had started to grow an attachment to the bear. About every time I saw her, she was holding it. It started with her just holding it by the hand. Slowly, she began to treat the toy better. The next day, she held it under her arm. The day after that, she held it in both hands. Finally, she was cuddling it.
Her habits seemed to slowly change. Her jogs began to be shorter going from 2 hours to 1 hour to 30 minutes. Soon, she stopped jogging. She began to slowly mellow out. At first, she was always this tough-as-nails mother who wanted nothing more than to keep healthy & fit. Now as she did was cuddle the bear.
The changes only continued. For the next week, she began acting stranger. She started performing random cleanings around the house. She never enjoyed cleaning. Now she was dusting almost every corner of the house & vacuuming. I never saw most of it as I would be out either at school or playing around. It was only when I got home that I saw the difference. Layers of dust vanished each day.
One morning, my dad had left early for work. He said he didn't know if he would even be home tonight. I woke up & went to the kitchen to fix my breakfast. My dad was normally the one who fixed it. I figured I would just pour some cereal. I entered the kitchen to find this strange woman cooking breakfast at the stove. She looked like a housewife from those 50s or 60s shows you see closed up in their kitchens. I had no idea who it was. Even after I saw her face & it was my mom's.
My mom was not a cook. My mom was not a morning person. My mom only wore athletic clothes. My mom's face never had a sunny smile, nor would it greet you until noon. "Who was this woman who took my mom's face?" was the thought that came to my head. It was still early in the morning. I was still waking up & hadn't put much thought into my mom's new look. All I did was eat my breakfast & go out to play.
Since then, my mom had settled in as a sunny "every day is wonderful" housewife, cleaning, cooking, wearing dresses, smiling, pampering my dad & I. It was like something had come over her like a body snatcher had taken over her. Who was I to argue if it meant having as much ice cream & candy as my childish self wanted.
But what stands out among her sweetened nature was the teddy bear which she had grown a dependence on. Whenever she wasn't cooking, cleaning, or doing any other housework, she would cuddle the stuff animal with just bliss making her smile more than normal. It was her comfort item; one she would not let anyone else touch.
One day, I woke up to find her searching underneath the couch. I asked what she was doing & she said in a very wily manner "I can't find my bear" as though she were a preschooler. It was sad seeing my mother search for one little teddy bear, but I chose to ignore her. All day she searched for the toy almost tearing the house to its floorboards looking for the toy. She didn't do any of the chores or cooked or even ate as far as I remembered until she found the bear.
I wanted no part in it. With how obsessed my mom was with finding the bear, I was free to do whatever I wanted even while she was there. But I couldn't take my mind off my mom. Even if she had been more lenient, the fear of one's parents never leaves. With her acting like an addict trying to find where her last hidden stash is, I couldn't even bring myself to do much.
I needed to get out the house. I went to the laundry room where my glove & baseball shirt were. I knew this because my mom had cleaned them recently. There I saw, sitting on the washing machine, was the teddy bear, staring at me through its plastic eyes. I didn't know why at the time, but a sense of fear came over me. "What was I to be afraid of? A stupid teddy bear? What boy is scared of a pile of stuffing?" At least I think those were the thoughts I tried to have.
Luck would have it that my mom would arrive to find the me with the teddy bear. She began to behave apprehensive. It was like she was assuming I had stolen the bear from her and that she was two words away from strangling me.
I was lucky that the bear was her priority. She ran over to snatch the bear off its perch. All I could think is how I had never felt fear like such before, from a stuffed animal of all things. For the rest of the day, she confined herself in her room cuddling the bear on her bed like a little girl. I think she even started having pigtails more often around then. For the next few days, the bear would always be in her arms as she did everything. I think she slept with the bear more than my dad.
Six months had passed since my mom had brought the bear into the house. My birthday was a few weeks away. For while, all she did was stay as the soft, sweet hearted housewife. That was before the real changes began to show. By now, a routine was set where mom would cook breakfast, I would come down to eat, & she would ask me what I was doing that day. But this morning was different.
I got up. I went downstairs to the kitchen. Mom was cleaning the stove. Breakfast was set out for me. I took my seat, grabbed a fork & knife, and started cutting into my breakfast. My mom turned to ask me how I slept. I looked to see her eyes had changed. The looked like the eyes on the teddy bear only still human eyeballs. They were normal last night - her eyes were green - now they were different. Her eyes were a purplish-red. The whites of her eyes were black. Her pupils were still normal. She acted as though nothing had changed. Had her eyes changed on their own?
For the next few weeks, her pupils began to grow wider matching those of the teddy bear. A few days later, a pair of teddy bear ears began to sprout from her head with the same-colored fur as the teddy bear. I knew those were growing out of her because the teddy bear was always with her & it was sitting right in front of me that morning.
Weeks went by. Slowly my mom was transforming into the teddy bear she had found. She arms started growing the cotton-candy colored fur. Her nose changed to a brown plastic one. She stopped blinking. Her face slowly broke out into a furry rash. Her hair was falling out leaving the stuffing behind. As she grew closer to being a teddy bear, herself was being to fade away. Her smile became permanent. She stopped eating & drinking. She was speaking smaller & smaller sentences each day. None of clothes fit anymore so she went naked exposing her fur-laced body.
With all her transformations going on, I spent more nights at my neighbors. I don't know why, but this overwhelming fear of mom slowly turning into a toy was more than I could handle, and I did not want to see this all the way through by myself. I left my mom to her fate.
I brought enough clothes for a week. Every week I would take the risk of entering my house. I didn't know what was becoming of my mom. Each time I went, she slowly started to fade from the house. The first visit, she could still say one word. The second & third visit, she was down to mumbles. The fourth visit was the most spine tingling - not a sound. I had to leave immediately that time.
It was about time for my fifth visit. My dad had come home for once. Ever since mom started having teddy bear fits, he started spending less time at home. It's sad when a toy takes over your place in someone's life. I chose to enter with him. He was confused by why I was next door, but I doubted he didn't have an idea as to why.
We entered the house. The place had not been touched in some time. Dust & cobwebs were showing up all over the house. The dishes had not been touched in over a month.
We went into the living room. It was there that we saw a giant teddy bear about 7 feet tall with the same cotton-candy pattern as the one my mom had found. It turned to look as us. Or should I say 'she' looked at us. For I knew the teddy bear was my mom.
It was the only possible answer as to why such a large teddy bear was standing in our house. The sudden change in personality. The glassy eyes. The fur coming out of her body. After 10 months, the inevitable had occurred. The teddy bear had turned my mom into a giant zombie version of it. My dad tried to call out to her, but she did not respond.
She started to lumber over towards us. My dad pushed me back. She opened her arms wide asking for a hug. My dad thought she was fine & gave into the hug.
That was when the zombie side of her showed. Almost the same as her, my dad was changing into a teddy bear in mere seconds much faster than the 10 months mom went through. Perhaps because of her size, she was more powerful than the stuffed bear she had found. I watched as my dad was being changed into the fluffy zombie losing all sense of himself giving in to the docile hairiness.
I had to get out of there. So I ran. I locked the doors behind me, threw away the keys, sealing what were once my parents inside. I ran to my neighbors telling them what I saw. They went to check. Sure enough, my parents as teddy bears were there staring out the window with their cold, lifeless eyes. They knew something was off when I arrived, so they were fast to believe me.
After then, the house was never touched. No one was allowed in. Nothing came out. I lived with whoever could take me as far from the house. Through this, I developed a fear of teddy bears because they took my family away from me. I hoped that was the last I saw of those monstrosities. How cruel life would be afterwards....