With the publication of Congeries: A Collection of Creative Writing just a month a way, this week’s taster is a familiar fairy tale with a thoroughly modern flavour written by the piquant pen of Pam Percy. The story is from an end-of-term topic titled ‘Bears Have Twelve Dreams and They Are All About Bears’, which is one of the sections to feature in Congeries.
Paradise Lost by Pam Percy
‘Housing crisis or no housing crisis,’ screamed Mummy Bear. ‘This house is TOO SMALL! And the children are getting BIGGER!’
Daddy Bear cringed. Looking around he saw that she had a point. ‘I have my work cut out,’ he protested, ‘trying to earn enough porridge for our ten young bears.’
But it was no use.
‘Work? You? Bear my pain you grizzly lump.’ Mummy Bear was now in her stride. ‘Everyday I make the beds: the futon, the hammock, the bunks, the couch, the airbed, the bed settee, the camp bed, the bedroll, and the litter.’ She drew breath. ‘And that’s not counting the drawer, the shelf and the bath.’
‘Look,’ he tried, ‘bear with me. Since they stopped our housing benefit, things have been difficult. Bear up, my lovely. We can try the Housing Association again – we’ll take the kids with us, to make the point. It may just bear fruit.’
So Mummy Bear, Daddy Bear and the ten young bears walked through the wood. As they walked each dreamed their own voluptuous dream. Bear one yearned to swap his hammock for a Silent Night Sprung Divan; Bear two had done his research and craved a Highgrove Kensington Orthopedic from Bedworld; Bear three favoured the Layezee Bronze Dream from Furniture Village. And on it went, each fleshing out their desire, their air-sprung heaven, each dreaming of a bare monthly centrefold to share their honeyed fantasy.
Meanwhile, through the woods stomped a golden-haired girl. Tattooed arms, nose ring and Doc Martens masked her sensitive soul. Reaching the Bears’ cottage she strode into their cluttered room, sat and breakfasted, then went to bed – twelve times. She hated the hammock, resented the bedroll, and scowled at the bed-settee. With black looks and ill-will, she gave short shrift to the drawer, the shelf and the bath. She snarled in the bunks. It was all so beastly.
Some time later the Bears returned home, disappointed. No joy at the Honeypot Housing Association.
‘Oh no! Someone’s been inside! We’ve got to do the porridge/chair/bed routine,’ cried Daddy Bear.
The house rang with a tired chorus of ‘porridge’ and ‘chair’. Then all the baby bears started shouting at once. ‘Someone’s been sleeping in my bed!’ Were their dreams about to come true? Who would be the lucky bear, the one who could utter: ‘And she’s still there!’
None of them. The bird had flown. She loved mammals – squirrels, raccoons, foxes, dogs, weasels, rabbits, seals, and porpoises. But she just couldn’t bear all those bristly hairs in the bed.