Love Letter to My Teddy Bear

Spirit Magazine, February 2008

Dear B. Marshmallow,

Decades ago, you came to me stinking of roses, and later, after my scent wore off on you, of the lime detergent my mother loved. I wasn’t sure we’d work out. I wanted to feel your heartbeat when I touched your chest, but I couldn’t even find your pulse.

You were not beautiful. You were too sad, too soft. Your belly was round and over-fed, yet the rest of you was smaller than me. All these years later, you’ve hardly grown. A mismatch, the two of us, at first look.

Despite that inauspicious beginning, we made it through. I opened up and you listened. I gushed about my career plans, my secret desires for moon travel, my indiscretions in the classroom. My tears seeped onto your chest, but you never moved to brush them away. Never moved much at all, come to think of it. You didn’t judge. Not a word. Not a sideways glance.

Only when I was sure about us did I give you a pet name. I stared at you until the epiphany came: summer camp, young girls sitting around a fire, piercing marshmallows with sticks and holding them low to flames. The marshmallows would catch fire, and we’d blow them out, oozing white and creamy on the inside. My mother laughed when I announced your name. She asked how I would feel if she called me “Burnt Marshmallow.” So we compromised: B Marshmallow. The “B” became our secret. One of many.

I met him—the one you dreaded long before he even materialized—in a Lincoln Avenue diner on a cold, wet night. His smile was moonlight, or maybe it was just a lonely smile on a guy sipping a vanilla shake. Maybe I was just a girl forking Death by Chocolate into my mouth as if any moment would be the end of the world.

In a perfect world, B. Marshmallow, I’d have you both—you on my right, and he on my left. But that wouldn’t be fair to you. Anyway, he wouldn’t go for it. He’s very traditional. I’m afraid, then, that tonight’s our last night. Tomorrow I’m give you up to that nice old lady who owns the thrift shop.

Please know that I think about you. You were more important to me than the distant stars I could pinch with my finger. And though you are no longer in my bed, you are forever in my heart. Dear teddy bear, I leave you with this promise: I will love you always, if only in my memory.

Love, Alyssa