It was the end of a busy day at Wriggley’s Toyshop. Everybody had gone home and the great big green doors which guarded the toys inside had been tightly shut and locked.
Inside, the toyshop was covered in darkness. But all was not quiet as a faint whimpering noise could be heard. It was coming from one of the toy-shelves.
From the sales counter, of where he had been placed on display for promotional purposes, Policeman Pete switched on his torch. (Luckily for him batteries had been included!) “Who’s there?” He asked as he slowly swung the torch beam across the toyshop.
When no answer came Policeman Pete shouted into the darkness; “Identify yourself! Or when I find you I shall be forced to make a Plastic Policeman’s arrest!”
But still nothing.
“I come with an exact replica of a real police badge you know.” He added.
Just then the beam of torchlight fell upon a single teddy bear sitting up on an empty shelf. The bear had a soft brown furry coat and an almost honey-coloured snout and tummy.
Policeman Pete recognized him instantly. He was a Honeybear. A Honeybear was the type of bear that was so cuddly that children all over the world were being tucked in next to one at night these days.
“I-I’m so sorry if I disturbed anyone.” The Honeybear apologized with a final sniff of sadness.
“Why were you crying?” A soft voice from a nearby shelf asked.
All this talk had now awoken the miniature dolls who switched on the lights in their doll house to see what all of this was about. The toyshop was now bathed in a dim yellow glow and the Honeybear saw that the voice belonged to a Tina Ballerina doll on the shelf next to his.
She was the most beautiful ballerina –and certainly the most beautiful Tina- that he had ever seen.
“My name is Huggles -Huggles The Honeybear- and nobody wants me.” He sighed.
“Whatever makes you say that?” Asked Tina.
“This shelf,” Huggles pointed with his paw, “was full of lots of other Honeybears and all of them were sold today. Harold, Horace, Henrietta, Helen – all of them. All of them except me, that is.”
“Well maybe they just never had a proper look at you.” Offered Policeman Pete who had by now switched off his torch in order to save batteries.
“But they did,”said Huggles. “Shirley the shop assistant came around with them. They were two humans named Mr. and Mrs. Fossington-Jones. I was then picked up by Mrs. Fossington-Jones who was wearing a fur coat which looked a lot like my own
I noticed that her lips were painted as red as fire engines and her eyelids were painted bluer than the sea.”
“That’s make-up,” said Tina
“No. It’s absolutely true.” Huggles replied.
“You said that she pointed something out on you.” Policeman Pete said thoughtfully. Huggles nodded. “Could it be that she was pointing out that something was wrong with you?” Asked Policeman Pete. He smiled to himself as it was a deduction worthy of his counterpart, Detective Dan.
“Wait a second,” Said Tina as she bent over to pick up a toy mirror. “Here,” She said, handing Huggles the mirror, “Do you see anything wrong with yourself?”
Huggles inspected himself closely in the mirror. “Well no, not exactly.” He said.
“You know, you’re quite a handsome chap – for a bear.” Tina teased. “And that’s a compliment you can smile about you know.” She added
“Oh but I am smiling, can’t you see?”
Suddenly it was clear. Policeman Pete looked at Tina, Tina looked at Policeman Pete, and Huggles looked closer into the mirror – that was it! Huggles couldn’t smile.
Tina let out a small surprised squeal. “Huggles- ” She began. “-You don’t have a smile.”
“I don’t have a smile?” Huggles half-asked.
“How can this be?” He asked. “Whenever I am happy I can feel myself smiling.”
“Perhaps it’s just a manufacturer’s error and can still be easily fixed.” Offered a voice from the above shelf.
It belonged to Edward the Aardvark. Edward was the oldest toy in the toyshop. He was surrounded by a number of stuffed toy ostriches, giraffes, lions and crocodiles – all very popular with the tourists.
“I once knew a bear named Ziti the Zoo Bear who was made with only one ear,” He said in his deep, slow, voice. “His new owners had him sent away somewhere where they fixed him up again.”
“So I can be fixed?” Asked Huggles. Edward nodded his wise old head in his typical old slow fashion.
“Where do I go to get fixed?” He asked again.
Edward the Aardvark raised his head to look at the ceiling, and thought for a moment.
Unfortunately for the young and impatient Huggles it turned out to be a rather long moment.
Finally, after that moment turned into yet another moment, Edward looked at Huggles and said in his same slow tone; “Well, the thing is, I don’t know exactly.”
“If I were you young squire I should embark upon a quest.”
Huggles looked at the shelf opposite and saw that it was said by Norman the Knight. He stood with his sword in one hand and his shield in the other.
“A quest?” Asked old Edward. ” Is that like when you ask a short question?”
“A quest is when you go on a journey in order to find something.” Norman replied somewhat in a huff.”Usually in my case it involves a Damsel in Distress.” He added with a slight bow.
“A donkey in a dress?” Asked old Eddy Aardvark, clearly puzzled.
Norman sighed heavily. “A damsel in distress, my good sir, refers to a beautiful lady in trouble. And it is one which only I,” Norman bowed again,”Can save.”
“In other words a quest is like a Grand Adventure.” It was Bobby the Bookworm who was a bookend and therefore considered himself to be somewhat of an educational toy. He occupied a place alongside Policeman Pete on top of the sales counter.
“All the heroes you read about in the great storybooks usually all set off on a Grand Adventure at some point or other, from the Cat In The Hat to King Arthur and his Knights Of The Round Table – everybody. And nowadays even Harry Potter.” He explained.
Huggles stood up from where he sat.”That’s it!” He said excitedly. “I shall go on a quest – on a Grand Adventure – I will go on a journey to find my smile.” The other toys who had been listening voiced their agreement.
“If you need a way out,” Offered Policeman Pete, “There is a small space you could squeeze through beneath the front doors.”
Huggles gazed at the two giant green French doors. He saw the small space between the doors and the ground.
“It’ll be a tight squeeze but I could probably fit through that.” He said thoughtfully.
Huggles carefully climbed down from his shelf and went around to bid his farewells. He shook paws with Edward the Aardvark, and hands with Policeman Pete and Norman the Knight.
“If only I had my trusty, noble steed young fellow, I shall go with you,” Said Norman, “But alas, my horse is sold separately.”
“Good luck my friend,” Said Policeman Pete. “When you leave I’ll turn a blind eye.” He winked at Huggles.
Just as Huggles turned away, Tina Ballerina hugged him tightly. He saw a small tear forming in the corner of her eye.
“Oh Huggles, take care of yourself!” Said Tina.
Under normal circumstances Huggles would’ve let her know with a smile that everything was going to be alright, but he decided to dry away her tears with his furry paw instead.
Huggles gave everything one last look before squeezing himself through the space between the door and the floor.
Once he emerged on the other side he dusted himself off and smoothed his fur straight as it was all sticking up from the big push. He did not want to be mistaken for a porcupine by the outside world after all!
He glanced back into the toyshop window and waved a final goodbye to his friends on the inside before setting off on his search for a smile.
Copyright, Gavin Fouche, 2009
*Note On Text – Huggles embarks on a quest to find his smile, but he will end up finding something more worthwile – Heart.