Once upon a time there was a bear. He was a great big bear, and he lived in a cave by himself. He liked his cave very much. There was just about everything a great big bear could need in there. He had a warm fire, a clear stream of water, some dry grass to sleep on, and a hole to go potty in. Occasionally the bear would venture out into the world looking for food, because bears get very hungry. Otherwise, he was very happy, and quite content to remain in his cave most of the time.
One day the great big bear was hiding in the long grass, waiting for something delicious to come along. He waited for a very long time. soon he began to get cold, and the sun started going to bed. So he stood up and looked around. The great big bear sniffed the air with his cold, wet nose and pondered what he could smell. He caught the scent of several delicious things to eat, but when he looked around there was nothing in sight. He went back to his cave and tried to get some sleep.
In the morning his stomach was growling. He rubbed his eyes and walked out into the clearing just outside his cave. The bear was all itchy from the straw bed he’d slept on, so he scratched himself all over with his claws. It felt wonderful to scratch the itchies. But somehow for every itch he scratched, another one cropped up. He scratched his head, his ear, his arm, his leg, his nose, and his foot, until all the itchies made their way around to his great big bear back.
The bear spotted a tree, and loped over to it slowly. He leaned back against the trunk of the tree, and could hear the itchies peel with laughter. He began to rub his back against the rough bark. The feeling of pleasure quickly overtook his hunger, he forgot where he was, he forgot his name, and delighted absolutely in the scratching of his back against the rough surface of the tree.
The tree smiled at the bear, and though some of her bark went flying in all directions, she was delighted to help the great big bear with his itchy back.
When the bear was done, he was relieved. He felt so happy he thought it might be time to take a little nap. The growl of his stomach advised him that napping right now might not be the best idea. The bear pondered his stomach, and sniffed the air carefully. Again he could smell all sorts of delicious things to eat in the breeze, but he couldn’t see a single one of them.
The bear remembered waiting all day in the long grass, and decided that today he would climb up this friendly tree and see what he could see. He dug his sharp claws into the tree’s trunk, and began to climb. When he got to the first branch which was strong enough to support the weight of a great big bear, he shimmied out and lay there quietly, peering around the clearing.
After a while his paw dropped to his side, and then began to dangle from the branch, and his toes wrapped around the base all nice and snug, and the bear fell fast asleep.
When he woke, there were two little feet on his nose. His lifted his paw to scratch at the feet, because feet on your nose are itchy, but they lifted up into the air and he scratched his nose instead.
“Hello!” Said a squwaky voice.
The bear opened his eyes and saw a funny bird hovering above him. It was an unusual bird, with bright colors and a big nose. Birds sometimes made the great big bear feel very hungry, but for some reason this one made him smile instead.
“Hi.” Said the great big bear.
“You were sleeping in a tree.” Said the funny bird. “What a silly thing for a bear to do.”
They looked at each other and laughed. The bear felt embarrassed, being unaccustomed to anyone pointing anything out about what he did or didn’t do, but because the funny bird made him laugh, it didn’t matter this time.
“I like you.” Said the bear.
“Don’t you mean you’d like to eat me?” Said the funny bird.
The bear scratched his nose again and tried to imagine eating this funny bird with all his bright feathers and great big nose.
“No.” Said the bear thoughtfully. “I meant to say that I like you.”
“Aww…” Said the funny bird, and he spread out his wings to give the bear a hug.
The bear reached his paws up to return the funny bird’s hug, but his sharp claws gored the bird, and it fell dead onto his chest.
The bear looked around to see if anyone had noticed. He could still smell all sorts of delicious things to eat in the air, but no one appeared to be watching. So he ate the funny bird all up.
The funniest thing about birds is that they are usually quite small. Birds don’t make a very good meal for that reason. If you’re going to eat birds, it’s best to catch a few of them. There’s little room for appetizers in the life of a great big bear.
After a while of looking around in the long grass, the bear felt sad and went back into his cave. He lay there in the dim light of his fire, and listened to his tummy growl. He was sorry he ate the bird, he hadn’t meant to kill it. He was a great big bear, and had very sharp claws. He imagined that he should have known better than to try to give a funny little bird any kind of a hug. He thought about this for a long time.
The next morning the bear came out of his cage into the clearing and sniffed the air. He had rested well, and the sun felt lovely on his face. He glanced over at the tree from yesterday, and she smiled sheepishly at him. He stared at the place where he had rubbed off the bark for a little while, and then wandered into the field.
It wasn’t long before the bear heard something. He stopped and cocked his head. He felt the breeze blowing past his whiskers, and the sun warming his fur, and he heard something that sounded like crying. the bear looked everywhere, up in the sky, over his shoulder, off into the distance, and down at his feet. When he looked down he saw a very small, white bunny.
“Oh!” Said the bear self-consciously.
“Waahhhh….” Cried the bunny.
“Oh dear, what’s wrong?” Asked the bear.
The bunny stopped crying and looked up at the great big bear. The bunny looked strange. Its eyes were red instead of brown or blue, and his little fingers and toes were pink. The bear wanted to laugh at the bunny, but tried to be as nice as he could.
“No one loves me.” Said the bunny.
“What do you mean no one loves you?”
“Give me a hug!”
“Oh dear.” Said the bear. “Where is your mother?”
“She threw me away.” said the bunny. “She said I was an albino, and that Father would eat me if I didn’t run away.”
The bear wondered if being an albino was something he could catch. He looked at the little animal’s deep red eyes, all wet from crying, and his shaking little body and felt all warm and strange about himself.
“What is albino?” Asked the bear.
“I don’t know…” and the bunny burst into tears again.
The bear pondered the situation. What could be done about a little white bunny sick with albino, who hadn’t anywhere to live? What sort of a mother would throw her child away? What sort of a father would eat his own son? “This world is very strange.” Thought the bear. He kept his mouth shut because he didn’t want to upset the bunny any further.
“Waaaah!” Cried the bunny.
“What’s the matter now?” Asked the bear.
“Pick me up!” Demanded the bunny.
The bear looked at his sharp claws, and then looked at the tiny little bunny. He had a vague idea that perhaps little bunnies should be left alone, and a great big bear would be wise to avoid them altogether. Besides, he didn’t want to catch albino. He would look funny all white with red eyes and pink claws. But, against his better judgement, the bear reached down and scooped up the little bunny with his very sharp claws.
The bunny quivered a little, and then closed his eyes and seemed to go to sleep. The bear stood there in the clearing feeling silly. He decided to smell the bunny. It didn’t smell ill. In fact, the little bunny smelled delicious. The great big bear began to tremble. His mouth got all wet and runny until drool began to slip out from between his teeth and run down his face in tear-like drops. His eyes grew deep, and he stared at the sleeping bunny for a long time.
But great big bears are dangerous, and they aren’t terribly smart. Soon the smell of little bunny had intoxicated the bear so completely that he stuffed the little thing into his mouth and chewed him up.
Then the bear was alone again. He stood in the field for a while looking into his paws. It was curious to the bear that only moments ago there had been a soft little bunny with tears in its eyes curled up in his hands. Now that bunny was just a warm feeling inside of his tummy.
“The world is very strange.” Said the bear to himself, and went back to his cave to go potty.
When he was done with his business in the cave, the bear decided to take another nap. So he curled up next to the stream and closed his eyes. That night he dreamt of flying polar bears. He was flying over the forest, with soft, white fur and blood red eyes. There were thousands of other bears just like him, and all together they looked like a cloud. He loved clouds.
He awoke when the sun was high in the sky. He knew that he’d slept all day again. He didn’t mind sleeping all day so much, but there seemed to be better food prospects in the morning, and he liked food. He felt a little hungry for something delicious, and decided to head outside and see what there might be to eat.
When he got out into the light, the bear remembered his dream. First he looked up into the sky to see if there were any clouds. There weren’t any. Then he looked down at his fur to be sure he hadn’t caught albino and turned white in the night. He was a deep, dark, brown like always. But what if his eyes were red? He worried about things like that sometimes. So the bear walked slowly down to the river to see if he might be able to catch a glimpse of his reflection in the water, and maybe catch a delicious fish to eat.
When he arrived at the river, he peered into the water. It was hard to see exactly, but it looked like his eyes were brown like always. He scratched his head and sniffed the air.
At the river it was difficult to smell delicious things. There were many smells, and they were very strong. So he stepped into the water, and sniffed at it to get some perspective. He saw a shadow flicker beneath the surface, and the bear followed it with his nose. The shadow flickered back toward him, and the bear raised his paw up into the air. Just as the shadow came close to him, he slashed at the water furiously. The splash got him all wet, and he wiped the wet away from his eyes. He looked at his paws and found a big fat trout stuck to the ends of his claws.
“Oh!” Said the bear, almost surprised, and a little proud of himself. “Hello.”
The trout opened and closed its mouth, and sadly flipped its tail.
“Yes of course. I don’t imagine you feel much like talking do you?”
The trout closed its eyes.
The bear stared at the fish for a while watching every little movement it made. Soon the fish was completely still and the bear stuffed it into his mouth and chewed it up.
The bear sat down. The cool water felt nice on his bottom. He liked the way his fur seemed to float, and wave back and forth in the current. The bear looked back at the shore, out past the field, and into the eyes of the scratching tree. He thought it might be nice to smile at the tree, she was so kind to him, but the great big bear felt strange. He didn’t smile. Instead, the bear just sat there in the water for a very long time and cried.
When he returned to the clearing he had forgotten what he was crying about. The tree shook her leaves in the breeze, and the bear stopped to look at her.
“What’s the matter bear?” Asked the tree.
The great big bear just stood there quietly looking at the tree.
“Would you like me to scratch your back?” She asked.
The bear felt sorry about the bird, and the bunny, and even the fish. His back itched, but he no longer wanted to take pleasure in the trees. He wished that the bird was still here, standing lightly on his chest. He wished that the bunny was still here, sleeping in his paws. He even wished that the fish might still be swimming in the water, making the shadows that caught his eye. He wanted to be just like the tree. He wanted to stand up nicely, and shake his leaves gently. He wanted to be kind and gentle with everything he touched. Instead he was a bear. He was a great big bear. And he killed everything he came into contact with.
“Bear?” asked the tree.
The bear looked up at her sadly.
“Why don’t you take a nice little nap?” Suggested the tree, sensing that the bear wasn’t quite himself today.
The bear nodded his head gently, and lumbered back into his cave.
In the morning, the sun was warm and bright. There was only a hint of a breeze, and the bear woke up early. He strolled out into the long grass and sniffed the air with his cold, wet nose. Everything smelled delicious. He could smell everything, but when he looked around, he could see nothing but grass and butterflies.