Playtime

Playtime

by

David J. Lovato

     “Scissors!” Jane said, firmly but calmly. She couldn’t get frazzled now; Teddy’s life depended on her.

     “Scissors,” she said in a lower, more monotone voice: her assistant. Jane wiped sweat from her brow, then hooked one arm of the scissors into the small incision she’d made in Teddy’s fur-like cloth. Carefully, methodically, she cut a ring around the top of his head, a few inches above his ears. A little bit of stuffing popped out with every snip.

     “Here goes nothing,” Jane said. She lifted the loose fur up and set it aside, leaving Teddy’s cotton brain completely exposed.

     Someone knocked softly at the door, and a second later, Jane’s mother entered the room.

     “Mom! You’re interrupting Teddy’s surgery! The room has to stay sterile!”

     Jane’s mother closed the door, then spoke from the other side. “Sorry, Janey! But it’s past your bedtime. Another surgery? Already?”

     “This one’s important!” Jane said. “This one will make Teddy alive for real!”

     Jane’s mother laughed. “Is that so?”

     “It’s a total brain transplant! He had a bad case of cottonbrain.”

     “Well, Dr. Jane, I don’t want to rush Teddy’s surgery, but it’s time for bed.

Try to finish up soon?”

     “Almost done,” Jane said. Footsteps pattered down the hall, and Jane set back to work, removing all of the fluff from Teddy’s head. When she was finished, she took the new fluff, the stuff she’d found in a dusty old box in the attic marked with Don’t Touch!!!, and filled his head to the brim.

     Jane realigned Teddy’s scalp, took her thread and needle, and began stitching him back together. The worst was over, but stitching back together was far from easy. It seemed to take forever, and now both Teddy’s life and her mother’s wrath were on the line.

     Finally, Jane snipped the thread away, and Teddy was finished. She held him up to inspect him: Stitches criss-crossed his skin all over, some of them coming loose after months of play, one of his eyes threatening to fall out.

     “That’ll have to be your next surgery,” Jane said. She hugged Teddy close.

“Someday you’ll be a real bear, just like I’ll be a real doctor.” 
     Jane yawned wide, then looked at her supplies lying around. She should 
clean up, but it was already late. She’d leave it for the morning. Jane took Teddy in her arms, turned the nightlight on, flicked off the overhead light, and climbed into bed. 
 
     Teddy stood up. It was hard; he’d never quite done it on his own before. 
He looked at his friend, Jane, glowing softly in the orange-red of the night light.

He pressed a soft paw against her face, but she didn’t move. What was wrong with her? She’d been fine only minutes before. Playtime was only beginning, and Teddy could finally move on his own, finally think and feel, so why was Jane not responding?

     Teddy looked around. He remembered everything, thought back to the countless times she’d fixed him. Jane was always so kind to him; now it was Teddy’s turn to repay the favor.

     Teddy hopped off the bed, hobbled over to the supplies on the ground, and gathered the scalpel and scissors. Carefully, step by stumpy step, he waddled back to Jane’s bed, emptied his armful onto it, then climbed up. He took the scalpel in his paw, walked across Jane’s chest, and rested above her. Where was it she’d fixed him? Oh yes, the head. Teddy pressed the scalpel against Jane’s skin.

     Don’t worry, Jane. I’ll patch you up, and then playtime will begin.