He lay in the ashes, burning. It was summer and hot anyway, but in the smoldering dust of a Florida trash fire, the heat was unbearable. Though he had no voice, the melting face haunts me. The button nose peeling away from the fluffy white faux fur, the warm brown eyeballs sinking in and disappearing into the ashes. These images, though they are of something artificial, they will always burn in me.
I was a sensitive child. Am a sensitive woman. I don’t have nightmares of the burning teddy bear any more, but every time I see his sister bear, Skiddles, sitting on the chair in the corner, that weight of senseless guilt sinks onto my shoulders. I’m grateful she remains – she was such a comfort through the years – but the pain of that burning image sears my heart as it seared his cottony flesh.
Of course, to hear my brother tell it, it was just a trash fire. Just things that had been removed from the house, dumped into a pit, scorched, and forgotten. He doesn’t have these haunting memories of a little white teddy bear. He remembers only that he talked me into it (if he even remembers that). He feels no pain. He feels no sorrow. He just shrugs and says, “You’re too sensitive.”
Just like he’s always said when anything from childhood comes up. He’s the hero. He’s a good guy. I’m the childish “girl” who can’t get over things.