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A Plushie Bruce's Story


by swordlilly

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Robinisha's first memory was of being in a factory. It was dark and warm, and there was a whirring sound. She looked down at her newly-sewn limbs and marvelled at how soft and pink they were. She touched her beak, and touched her feet. Then she looked around, and saw that she was one of many Plushie Bruces, sitting neatly on a conveyor belt, whirring in the dark.

     She couldn't remember much of what happened after that, but she vaguely recalled being placed into a scary dark container of some kind, and being jostled around. The next thing she knew, she was on a wooden shelf, and someone was taking her off the shelf, squealing:

     "Mom! Mom! I want this one!"

     It was a voice she would soon come to know very well: the voice of her owner, Stephanie.

     ***

     Stephanie was a shy, imaginative little girl, and she loved Robinisha to pieces. When she had to get her shots, she took Robinisha along. When she was nervous about having to give a presentation at school, she practised by talking to Robinisha. Every night, after Mom turned off the lights, she squeezed Robinisha's beak for comfort. When her grip slowly relaxed, that's when Robinisha knew she had fallen asleep.

     Robinisha didn't like being squeezed at first, but she gradually got used to it. The first thing Stephanie did each day after coming home from school (and washing her hands, on Mom's orders), was to run into her bedroom and pick Robinisha up. "Guess what?" Stephanie would say, and Robinisha would listen to a torrent of chatter that Stephanie had bottled up at school. Whether it was a teacher who had scolded Stephanie for drawing and not paying attention in class, or a boy who had teased Stephanie by snatching her pencil box and juggling it in the air while she screamed, Robinisha heard it all. And when Stephanie was done, she would squeeze the Plushie Bruce, and Robinisha would smile inwardly, knowing she had brought a little bit of happiness to her owner's day.

     During the day when Stephanie was at school, Robinisha sat on Stephanie's bed and wondered what it might be like to go to school herself. Alas, she was only a toy, and she had only one purpose in life: to comfort her owner, and to ask nothing for herself.

     ***

     As time passed, Robinisha grew frailer. Stray strands began to form at the edges of her stitches. Her colour changed from a vivid pink to a pale, almost greyish lilac, and her limbs grew floppy from the long years of being hugged and squeezed.

     Stephanie changed as well. When she'd picked Robinisha off the shelf of the toy store, she had been a six-year-old little girl whose hands were almost the same size as Robinisha's beak. Now her hands were long and slender, and she could pick Robinisha up very easily in just one hand. Whereas previously, when she ran toward the bed, she was almost at eye level with Robinisha, now she was tall and graceful, and bent toward Robinisha from above.

     "Robinisha," Stephanie said, with tears glimmering in her eyes, "it's time to say goodbye. I've grown up and must move away, and there are many things I must let go. Thank you for all the years of care you've given to me. I will remember you, always."

     "Stephanie!" Mom's voice called from outside. "The donation truck is here!"

     Stephanie gave the Plushie Bruce one last squeeze, and the next thing Robinisha knew, she was back in a scary dark container, trundling towards an unknown future.

     ***

     Robinisha felt around in the dark. She'd been placed onto another shelf, it seemed, except this one was a lot flimsier than the one at the toy store. It was dusty, too; she wrinkled her face as a cobweb drifted past.

     Where was she? There were voices, but they seemed distant. There was a clinking sound as something was placed on a shelf, somewhere below her. Then a rustling, and a clatter. Murmurs.

     Robinisha felt a sudden surge of terror. No one would ever find her in this kind of store. It was far too big, far too cluttered, and messy. The things piled next to her weren't even toys for the most part. There was a kettle with a missing handle, an umbrella, and a music box. More things rattled mysteriously below. Robinisha pressed her old, faded hands to her face. She would probably never find another owner again.

     For the first few days, she waited, hoping against hope that another little girl would pick her up and squeal with the same joy Stephanie had shown when she'd found her, all those years ago. But nobody came. The umbrella got bought, and a vase was shoved into its place. Day after day, the customers rumbled around, not giving Robinisha a second glance.

     Robinisha realized she had to do something. For the first time in her life, she was completely free, and yet she didn't know where to go. She was used to just waiting for her owner to come home. Now she had no owner, and she felt lost.

     One night, when the lights in the thrift store had been turned off, Robinisha lay awake, thinking of the times when Stephanie would squeeze her beak. Then she shook her head and reminded herself that Stephanie was gone from her life. Stephanie had grown up, and didn't need her anymore.

     The Plushie Bruce climbed slowly to her feet, and waddled towards the back of the shelf. To her surprise, when she pressed the wall, it yielded. She leaned against it, and there was no resistance. She put her hands out before her, and in this way stumbled through a hole in the fabric of spacetime, into a wholly different world.

     ***

     "Robinisha."

     Someone was calling her name. The Plushie Bruce blinked, for there was a lot of light. A beautiful face came swimming into view, the most beautiful face Robinisha had ever seen. A pair of violet eyes gazed warmly down upon her, framed by soft, purple-pink hair. It was the face of Queen Fyora.

     The faerie queen smiled at Robinisha. "Welcome to Faerieland," she said. "I can see that you have a kind heart. You have spent your toy-life caring for your owner, and safely brought her into adulthood. Now it is time for you to claim your reward. You will have your own chance to grow up."

     "Me?" Robinisha whispered. It was the first time she had ever spoken; she was amazed at the sound of her own voice. "Me?" she repeated. "Grow... up?"

     "Yes, dear Robinisha." Queen Fyora twirled her crystal staff, and a swirl of sparkles came toward the Bruce. As soon as the first sparkle lighted on her beak, Robinisha could feel her body changing. She felt energy like she'd never had before. She felt... alive. She looked down, and saw that she was now wearing schoolgirl clothes. There was even a backpack at her feet, the same kind that Stephanie used to carry to school.

     "I... what will I do?" Robinisha whispered. She still wasn't used to talking, and she felt a strange mix of awe and confusion at the future that now unfolded before her.

     Queen Fyora smiled. "That is all up to you, my child. You have a place in Faerieland Academy. You'll be able to go to classes, have a dormitory to sleep in, and a playground to play in. What you want to do with your new life will be your own choice. Go, and be free, Robinisha."

     Robinisha bent down, picked up the bag, and waved goodbye to Queen Fyora. She stepped out onto a beautiful marble balcony framed with cloud pillars. Then out, and on, through a tall purple gate, onto a road of clouds. The glimmering turrets of Faerieland Academy beckoned.

     Robinisha could barely believe her eyes. Her heart fluttered with fear. But she remembered what Stephanie used to say: "The teacher is strict, and I'm scared! But I'm going to learn so much, Robinisha, and I'm going to grow up."

     The Plushie Bruce squared her shoulders. Yes, she was ready at last. Her own chance had come. It was time to grow up.

     The End.

 
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