Over the last couple of months we’ve been clearing stuff out of my mother’s bungalow.
A lot of it has been going to a local auction house. We went in to see them the day before Christmas, while they were setting up ready for the next sale. Some questions were answered and we were about to leave. One of the company’s valuers walked with us to the door. “Did you notice the bear?” In fact I’d spotted it as we came in. Threadbare and disconsolate, perched on the top of an old wardrobe. Only a marginal improvement on its previous existence, in the far reaches of an attic, stuffed in a box. “Are you sure you want to include it in the sale?”
It might have been something in her voice. It might have been something in her eyes. But whatever it was, something didn’t seem right. Enough for me to pause for a second. “No, it’s OK, we’ve got enough bears.” I saw Mike breathe a sigh of relief.
We got out of the door and all the way back to the car, battling to avoid being swept into the river by the driving rain and howling gale. It was such a relief to get under cover and we sat for a while in silence. It wasn’t the end of the story and Mike knew it. “We’re going back for it, aren’t we?”
Returning to the car, for the second time, he looked thoroughly bedraggled. The rain had got harder if anything.
The bear though, it was safe and dry under his coat.