Tanya reached up and lifted down the love-worn bear. It had few patches of fur remaining but its eyes were still shiny, reflecting Tanya’s own in them.
She turned him around, the once white label on the bear’s bottom now almost transparent and fraying at the tips.
Tanya hugged the bear into her chest, felt it fold in half the tighter she held it.
Golly. That had been the name of the bear. She struggled to remember how she had come up with it. The name had come at the end of a long line of words and ideas, each leading to the next until Golly had finally come into her head, but she couldn’t remember the path she had walked to get there.
As she pulled Golly away, she noticed the blackened back of its head which seemed to smoke with memories.
She laughed and shook her head at her naive teenage self; the version of her that tried smoking in her cousin’s playhouse almost twenty years ago and had stubbed her cigarette out on Golly’s head.
It had been an accident. Golly wasn’t meant to be there and in her haste to not be caught she thought she was stubbing it out on her cousin Jessica’s toys. What she hadn’t realised was that Jessica had stolen Golly the week before, assuming it to be unwanted now Tanya was “so grown up”.
Tanya had realised the mistake the moment the burnt end had hit the bear’s head. Not only did she instantly recognise the feel of her oldest friend, but the bear’s fur had shimmered with ash and spread a black circle larger than expected before tiring itself out.
That had been the moment she realised she wasn’t ready to be grown up and try smoking like the other kids in her year. She never did end up picking that habit up. Never seriously anyway.
In her shock at harming Golly, Tanya had quickly sprayed her Impulse deodorant around her body, spraying directly into her mouth from arms length away to try and cover the smell, immediately choking and being forced to rush out of the playhouse, one hand swinging her school bag to knock open the door, the other wrapped tight around Golly.
As she looked over this worn and tired teddy bear more flashes of memories came to her. They overlapped each other, one melting into two, three, four… She smiled again at this wonderful friend of hers, long since forgotten.
“Found what you were looking for?” her mum called from the next room.
“Yeah, I’ve got him,” Tanya replied, her mum appearing around the corner before she could take another breath. “Probably needs a wash. What d’ya reckon?”
Her mum nodded and reached out to take the bear. Tanya’s fingers were reluctant to let Golly go so soon, but felt the bear change hands and knew that he was going to be looked after.
“Once we get it cleaned up, stitched and maybe put a patch over this burn…” she paused, eyes connecting with Tanya for just a second, a mother’s knowledge twinkling in her eyes. “He or she is going to love it. Once old enough, they’ll probably be inseparable – just like their mum.”
Tanya felt the burning of tears as she imagined her own son or daughter going on adventures with her old friend. Her hand was resting on her expanding stomach before she realised. She beamed back at her mum, tears flowing freely as she hugged the woman who had introduced her to Golly in the first place and kept her childish secrets.

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