Piece 2 out of 4 in collection titled “Inspiration.” The assignment required four pieces – one about a piece of art (song, painting, etc.), one about an important object, one about a place, and one about a person.
1999. A tie dye, red white and blue Beanie Baby sits in a Louis Vuitton purse as he enters Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, New York City. A “USA” badge is strapped proudly across his chest and a patriotic tie across his neck. His colors are vibrant, identical to the crowd-pleasing red, white, and blue Firecracker popsicles given to children every 4th of July. The stuffed animal is carried up stairs, into elevators, and through winding hospital hallways, before being placed gently in the tiny hands of a newborn girl.
2001. “Smokey,” she begins to call him. A small bear stuffed with beans begins to develop a personality and a story. The girl asks him questions about his life such as if there is a Mrs. Smokey or how he got such unusually colored fur. In exchange, she tells him about her own life: her family, her dream to be a teacher, or her humongous fear of sharks.
2002. Smokey watches as the young girl begins preschool, has playdates, and soon, becomes an older sister. There are pros – snuggles, a real life doll to dress up, someone to play with. But there are also cons – not being the center of attention, loud screeches throughout the night, delayed mealtimes when mom needs to feed the baby. The young girl confides in Smokey. He is no longer just someone to play with, but someone to lean on and confide in.
2007. There is competition in their household. A new stuffed animal – a moose – enters the scene. There are initial reservations about no longer being the only Alaskan mammal stuffy, but as the sisters grow closer, so do the stuffed animals. The four become inseparable: Smokey, Moosey, Sofia, and Sarah. They have tea parties, play school, and make phone calls to Mrs. Moosey. But every night, Sofia and Smokey stay up talking, strengthening the bond formed that fateful day in the hospital.
2010. The two take their relationship to the next level as they travel the world together. Smokey joins the family as they voyage to Nicaragua, London, Paris, Israel, and New York. He has grown fond of the family and the relationship that he shares with them.
2013. It is Sofia’s first time traveling abroad without family. Excited for the journey ahead, Smokey watches her pack – hat, sunblock, clothes, money. But not him. They exchange a hug before she heads off to the airport, leaving her favorite companion behind for the first time.
2017. It has been years since the two exchanged what used to be their regular nightly conversations. She has stopped talking to him about hopes, worries, and grievances. He is no longer a best friend or lifelong companion, but just a stuffed animal to sleep with at night. Nonetheless, Sofia needs him. When she travels, she misses him, she gets nervous about the thought of bringing a stuffed animal to college though leaving him behind is out of the question, and losing him only to find him under the bed is one of the most anxiety-inducing situations.
The future is unwritten, but one thing is for sure. Though the bond between them will continue to grow, morph, and shift, as any relationship does, it will never fizzle out. Smokey grounds her in her past, comforts her in the present, and gives her strength to move forward into the future.