Oh does time go by fast. Seems as though only yesterday my little brother and I were only kids. I’m 25 now and he is 24. I left the nest a few years ago. My brother, being somewhat of a mama’s boy, is only now starting to move out on his own. He is renting a little apartment not too far from home.
He and I decided to raid our families storage unit because he hardly has any furniture to go in his new apartment. We went the next day and saw a few decent pieces of furniture, a desk, coffee table, and our old couch.
“What’s in all of these boxes anyway?” I asked while scanning the room. My brother dusted one of the plastic boxes off and read the label.
“Here, I think these are yours,” he said as he slid the box my way. I could see some dolls and ponies through the clear orange plastic. I opened it up and a big smile grew on my face. There were some of my favorite toys in here, animal figurines, an assortment of beanie babies, a slinky, bouncy balls and much more.
I saw a paw sticking out of the pile and pulled on it. A strange looking stuffed animal emerged from the rubble. It was like a teddy bear, but it had big round cheeks and funny protruding eyes with the lids half way down so he looked like he was stoned or sleepy. He was also wearing red pajamas with blue trim and holding a yellow flashlight that was sewed to his hand.
“Hey! Look, it’s Bubba. Do you remember him?” He turned around from the box he was searching and squinted his eyes at the bear.
“Oh yeah! I remember him. Let me see,” he said as he reached out his hand. He inspected the bear for a minute and then pressed the button on his flashlight. Nothing happened.
“The batteries are dead.” He chuckled and tossed the bear back to me.
“This guy was crazy. What did he used to say...” I scratched my head. Before I could think my brother mimicked the bear.
“Let's go in the closet! Are we in the closet? I’m gonna turn on my flashlight!” We both laughed.
“Oh yeah!” I mimicked another phrase.
“Hey you know what would be fun? Lets get under the covers. Are we under the covers? Ok, tickle me! WHOOOA that tickles hehehe.” we laughed harder until we both sighed. My brother looked at the ground for a moment and then at me.
“He said some weird stuff. Do you remember? I remember once he told us to go into mom’s room and turn off the lights. Do you remember that?” I thought for a second and remembered.
“Yeah I remember that. Remember when cousin Abby took him from us?"
“Haha! Yeah and he was like “Hey don’t touch me!” and she screamed and ran.” we both reflected for a moment until I broke the silence.
“Yeah, he was crazy. We should get going. Mom wants us to come over for dinner.” We packed up the boxes and secured the furniture in the truck. Later that night after we unloaded everything we went to our childhood home. We visited with our grandmother and our aunt for a bit and I decided to help my mom cook.
“Did you find something he could use, honey?” she said while chopping carrots.
“Oh yeah. Our old couch still looks good and some pieces of furniture. We looked through our old toys ma. I thought you threw them away?”
“No no! I want to keep those. When you have kids of your own you can show them your old toys.”
“Thanks ma. I want to put batteries in Bubba and see if he still works. Remember Bubba?”
“Oh yes! Bubba. He was your guy’s favorite. You two had such an imagination back then. You used to blame everything on Bubba. Both of you insisted he spoke to you.” she chuckled and moved onto chopping onions.
“Wait what? I don’t remember thinking he said anything other than what he was programmed to say.”
“What do you mean, dear? He wasn’t programmed to say anything.”
“Yes he was. He said a bunch of different phrases.” I stopped stirring and looked at her. She grabbed the pepper across from me and patted me on the shoulder.
“Nice try, honey. You may be grown ups, but I’m only 52 years old. My memory hasn’t’ gone yet. When I bought him for you two, the only thing he had was that flashlight. Even that you had to turn on yourself.” She grabbed a plate of appetizers and walked into the living room. I stood there speechless. She must be wrong. I remember clearly. He did speak to us. He did. I tried to put it out of my mind for the rest of the visit. We said our goodbyes and I offered to drive my brother home. It was dark now, around 8:30. I turned the radio down a little bit.
“Hey. I was talking to mom about Bubba and she insisted that he was never programmed to say anything. She said we were making it up and the only thing he had was the flashlight.”
“What? Nah. She’s wrong. She bought us tons of toys over the years. She’s probably thinking of something else. I distinctly remember times when he talked to us.”
“Me too.” We pulled up to his apartment complex and he got out of the car. Just before he closed the door he leaned down and said
“Don’t worry about it sis. She’s wrong.” he waved as I pulled away. When I got home I opened my laptop and searched for the Bubba doll. After several searches, nothing came up. I typed in “teddy bear with flashlight 90’s toy” This was him.
However, his name just said, “Flashlight Teddy” I clicked on link after link trying to see if there were different versions. I found some on Amazon. They were all the same. Just the light turned on, nothing else. A wave of discomfort fell over me as I sunk down in my chair. I pulled out my phone from my purse and texted my brother.
“Mom was right... Google flashlight teddy...”
Occasionally I have nightmares about Bubba. I dream he shows up in my apartment or my mom brings him home. I’ve been trying to block it out, but it always comes back... and neither my brother or I will go in that storage unit to this day.