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The Red Crayola Bear

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I went to a therapist a couple years back, after my parents both passed away. Had some severe bouts of depression and decided that it was the smart thing to do instead of trying to kill myself. The therapist was your average therapist, I guess. Doing what he needed to do, but it always just seemed to me that he was too nosy. He was always asking about my family, and I always told him I was uncomfortable talking about them. He always pressed the issue, so I finally broke down and told him that they were all dead. When he asked me what happened, I told him I killed them. He tried to pass it off as a guilty conscience for something out of my control, and that's when I told him the full story.

It started over twenty years ago, with my sister. She was two years older than me. We'd fight over everything, as siblings do. This time, it was over Burger King toys. See, back then they had Crayola Bears—little teddy bears in different colors. They wore a matching color shirt and had matching color eyes. I got a blue one, and my sister got the red one. At this time in my life, red was my favorite color and I really wanted that bear. She and I fought in the back seat and dad told us to quiet down. When we got home we fought some more, and then I decided to move on and play with my other toys.

That night I had a really good dream. In it I was just surrounded by all my toys, and the red crayola bear and I were having an amazing time. I would've woken up with a huge smile on my face if it wasn't for a blood-curdling scream I heard from my sister's room. Mom and Dad rushed in to check on her, and I sleepily wandered that way too, peeking into the room. My sister had a nightmare that the red crayola bear climbed up from the foot of her bed all the way to her neck and started strangling her. She had thrown the bear across the room and cried. I knew that this was my chance to have the bear, but she said she wanted to keep it. After all that noise, all that terror, she wanted to keep it! She just didn't want it in bed with her. Mom and dad put it on the dresser after that and we all went back to bed. But I just HAD to have the bear. Knowing she'd throw it away if she saw it in bed with her again, and knowing I'd be there to save it from the trash, I snuck in after she fell asleep and put the bear on the foot of the bed. I went back to bed and smiled, and I dreamed again. This time the red bear spoke to me and said that he would make sure that we'd play together really soon.

I woke up the next morning, just knowing my plan would work. I waited to hear my sister scream, but there was nothing. I stayed in bed, my ear against the wall, listening for some kind of sound. I heard my parents wake up, and I heard mom shout that breakfast was ready, so I decided that I had waited long enough and I went to the dining room and got my breakfast. Mom asked if I heard my sister moving around at all and I said no. She went to my sister's room and knocked on the door and then peeked inside. I knew something was wrong because her jaw dropped and she ran into the room and yelled for my dad. My dad started mumbling and walked over, but when my mom yelled at him again he heard the urgency in her voice and picked up the pace quickly. I sat there, eating my breakfast, hearing muffled voices behind the wall, yelling for my sister to respond. My mom started bawling. My dad came out, paler than a ghost. He walked right past me to the telephone. I walked into my sister's room. My mom was holding her and shaking her, tears pouring down her face. My sister's eyes were staring at the ceiling, bulging, bloodshot. Her head flopped around as my mom shook her. I heard my dad in the other room say that she was dead. I looked over at the floor at the head of the bed, and I locked eyes with the red bear. Those beady red eyes stared into mine, and it was like I could see the bear smile.

The therapist stopped me there, looking rather pale himself. He told me it was all coincidental, and that although the shock possibly could have killed my sister that I was still not responsible for her death and that I shouldn't feel guilty. That's when I told him about what happened to my parents.

I was twenty-four at the time. Still living at home, working a dead-end fast food job. My parents had done the best they could, all things considered, but I was unhappy. My dad wasted money gambling; my mom, well, she pretty much shut down after my sister passed away. She was never all there after that morning, and she'd have some days that were worse than others. One night I come home and my dad is stretched out in his recliner, watching the late night news and yelling that none of his teams won. My mom, she's sitting there in the couch, holding onto the red bear and smiling. The funny thing is that years ago we tried to get rid of it, but my mom insisted that it was her daughter. We couldn't do anything for her then, so we just let her keep the bear. But anyway, going back to the story. My dad hadn't heard me come in when he was yelling about his teams, and he wound up blurting out that he had lost over a thousand dollars. I didn't have an idea that we had that kind of money. Turns out that we didn't. My dad finally heard me by the front door, and he asked me to borrow some cash. I pretended not to know why and asked him how much. He told me he needed a thousand bucks. I was furious, but it was my dad. I couldn't say no. So I gave him my savings. Every single dollar I was saving to get out of that house. I went to bed that night, staring into space, just full of anger and sorrow and everything. Somehow I fell asleep.

I dreamt of the red bear again. He told me it had been too long, and he was sorry that we never got the playtime that we had earned. But he told me that he had some good news for me. He told me that our playtime would happen soon. I asked him what he meant, and he just smiled and told me to hush. I asked him if he killed my sister. He turned away, looking down, and he asked me if I really wanted to know the answer to that. I asked him another question, one that I really only whispered to myself, and he answered "...Same thing." I woke up the next morning, oddly refreshed and happy. I remembered the dream vividly, though, except for that one question.

The next morning my dad decided he was going to take my mom to the doctor, and then he was going to the bookie to pay him off. They left, my mom smiling and waving the red bear's arm at me in the window. It was nine hours later that the police knocked on my door and took me with them to the morgue to identify the bodies. Apparently after visiting the bookie my dad pulled the car out of the parking lot and into the path of an on-coming semi. They were both killed immediately by the broken glass of the windows and windshield. They gave me a box of my parents' belongings, and the red bear sat on top. Again, I saw that smile. It was only then that I remembered the question that I asked him in my dream: "What are you going to do to my parents?"

The therapist, he was really on edge now. The color was flush from his face and he had broken out in a cold sweat. He tried again to tell me that I had an overactive imagination and that I was just creating these scenarios in my head to feed my guilt. I laughed at him then. I told him that I had no guilt. The one thing my parents did right after my sister's death was getting some good life insurance. I made over $500,000 after they kicked off. The therapist stared at me, his eyes twitching. His mouth moved like he wanted to say something, but he couldn't. And that's when I told him the kicker—I still have the red bear. He dropped his pen and his clipboard and told me that he was recommending an inpatient stay at a local hospital in their mental health ward. I told him that it wouldn't be necessary. I was feeling over my depression. He insisted that I go. And then I told him I dreamt that the red bear said if I didn't take care of the good doctor, then the bear would. I left the office and went home. I told them I wouldn't be seeing the doctor anymore.

The doctor didn't take any patients after he left that night. The red bear made sure of it. And every day, the bear smiles at me more and more.

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