Julia is copyrighted by the author and is not to be used or modified without permission. All rights reserved.
INT. HOUSE – PRETEEN GIRL’S BEDROOM - DAYLIGHT
The curtains are closed, the sun and its cheeriness kept at bay. A night light casts a cold, indifferent glow on the bed. Instruments blink in the looming gloom, steady and regular, unlike the patient in the bed.
Hooked to monitors and IVs, wearing a halo of matted, dull hair, a little angel lies uneasy, clearly not long for this world. Gaunt and sunken are the kindest words to describe her. The room is empty and the bedside chair as well. She is alone.
For her fourth birthday Julia got a bear with a shiny brown coat. He was bigger than you average stuffed toy and she named him Bubbles. She talked to him often and told him everything. He had those beautiful, sky-blue eyes that felt like you could say anything and be assured he was listening.
Millions upon millions of words later came the worst day of Julia’s short life. Bubbles, her best friend, left her. It was not because she told him she was very sick. No, she knew why and she was not telling anyone. You see, Julia was a good girl, but she lied to her parents for a reason: Bubbles was on a rescue mission, trying to find a cure. For that is what best friends do: they go out there into the big, scary world and find the one thing that will make you better when you are down.
Months turned into years and now there are no more hospitals; the doctors sent Julia home for the last time. She does not understand why everyone cries all the time. She lies there, tired, so tired, and waits for Bubbles. This time, when she opens her eyes, he will be there, looking back. Because that is another great thing about best friends: they are there when you need them most.
Suddenly, there is movement and a stuffed bear appears, walking on all fours. Not your average one, he is the size of a medium dog. Everything about him screams artificial but nothing more so than the two white buttons that are his eyes.
The bear raises his head and sniffs the air as he circles the bed. The walking ball of fake fur finally stops and sits on his hunches. He considers the bed thoughtfully, measuring the height with his eyes. After a while, he stands up and ambles away.
Silence; long seconds pass, marked by the pulse of the machines. Then a soft, quick series of sounds and the bear comes charging towards the bed. Quick launch of brown mass, followed by a scramble of back feet for purchase while the front ones dig into the sheets to prevent the rather large butt from sliding off. Success!
Julia opens her eyes and smiles weakly at the approaching bear. She does not even have enough strength to cuddle him; all she can do is lift her head a little and look.
Julia, hoarse, whispering, her excitement shining thru the exhaustion
Bubbles, you came back!
Rattling cough racks her frail body and her head falls back on the pillow. Closing her eyes, she breathes with difficulty, body rocked by waves of pain and accompanying tremors.
Bubbles moves closer and hugs Julia close around the neck. Instantly, the laboring lungs quiet, the body sinks relaxed into the sheets, and she drifts into peaceful sleep. Few seconds later, as she shifts to her side, the bear falls away, stiff and lifeless, a child’s stuffed toy.
Eyes that hold the hopes, fears, and dreams of a little girl for safekeeping are very rare and precious. And that is the third and best thing about best friends: they come through.
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