It was my sixth day back in hospital and all around was bedlam, which was inconvenient, given the problem I was having. Eddie had been missing since breakfast, possibly before, but it was only after I’d choked down the tepid assault of porridge that I noticed.
I tried to communicate the situation immediately, but when I opened my mouth all I could force out was the same incoherent wail which always appeared. Hungry, wail; itchy, wail; lonely, wail; shat myself, wail. If it’s language which separates us from beasts, I don’t see why I couldn’t have been born fully evolved from the start, instead of this insufferable period of ‘growing into it’, as if being human were badly scaled knitwear from a well-meaning but slap-dash grandparent. Speaking of which, where were they now? It’d been visiting time for fifteen minutes, and I required assistance. Sure, they’re always on hand to pinch a cheek, or pretend to have disappeared behind their own hands. I usually can’t get the tobacco stained geriatrics to leave me alone. I’ve literally voided my bowels on them and achieved nothing but an ‘oh deary me’ and a disease ridden danger hug with hands they think they’ve somehow disinfected by the cursory grazing of a wet-wipe.
Usually, even the inept sirens which ushered from my vocal cords would have been enough to catch the attention of a tired-eyed nurse, or drag a passing cleaner from their mop, earning me opportunity to attempt a desperate round of charades. Whatever had caused this disarray better be important, I understand this place has to handle emergencies, but if anything less than war is keeping my clammy paws from the soft fur of my bear, then there is going to be a strongly worded letter, just as soon as somebody teaches me to write.
I realised I was going to have to take matters into my own hands, and began kicking my stumpy legs against the sheets until I managed to get enough purchase to slide off the bed. My podgy limbs hit the floor with a slap, my cries becoming immediately louder and more pathetic, which would have been embarrassing if anyone were actually listening.
I scuttled a distance, then rolled onto my back to rest. That’s when I saw it, the fuzzy brown triangle sticking out from the edge of the portable table above - Eddie’s ear! My heart swelled in excitement and a ridiculous giggle bubbled from my slobbering mouth. I manipulated my position and rolled back, snapping my chubby leg straight and delivering a kick to the table. It juddered, but not enough. I kicked again, and again, and finally it worked. The pale brown object rocked, then fell directly toward me. I held out my arms to welcome Eddie Bear home, blinking my eyes in anticipation.
Then it hit me, right on my forehead, exploding into its component parts and spreading around the floor. A slice of tomato here, cucumber there, a malodorous stain of tuna sliding down my cheek, and the soft brown bread which I’d thought was Eddie’s ear, bouncing hopelessly away.
And there I lay, clobbered by someone else’s discarded sandwich, screaming through snotty sobs, oblivious legs hurrying around me, thinking just how much I could do with the comfort of Eddie Bear right now.