The children don't understand.
The sweets they pine for are not squeezed from the machine with stripes intact. No—they must be painted on, by hand, with so much care. It is almost unimaginable ... [+]
Sometimes I can't sleep. That's because of the bear under the bed.
One night, the bear was breathing hard.
When he breathed in, the bed lifted up off the floor.
When he breathed out, the bed slammed back down.
I was getting seasick. So I leaned over the edge of the bed and whispered, "If you could breathe just a smidge softer, Mr. Bear, I'd appreciate it, thank-you-very-much."
I was perfectly polite. But the bear didn't care! In fact, he breathed even harder. It was a long night...
Another time, the bear was snoring. Loud.
The sound rattled my teeth. It swished the curtains. It shook my socks right out of the drawer.
So I leaned over the edge of the bed and said, "If you could snore ten percent more gently, Mr. Bear, it would help me out a bunch, thank-you-very-much."
I was extremely fair. But the bear didn't care! In fact, he snored even louder. It was a very long night...
Sometimes, even the bear can't sleep. Those nights are the longest...
One evening, the bear was tossing and turning. The bed tossed and turned with him.
First my alarm clock fell over. Then my bookshelf. Then my fish tank. What... a... mess.
So I held on tight to the bedpost and yelled, "If you could toss and turn a wholelot less, Mr. Bear, it would help me out big time, thank-you-very-much. If you like, I could read you a bedtime story. That always helps me fall asleep."
It was a generous offer. The bear... seemed to care.
I switched on the light. I picked Goldilocks and the Three Bears up off the floor, and shook it dry. And I started reading.
"Once upon a time... "
The bear stopped tossing.
"This porridge is just right," I said, a minute later.
The bear stopped turning. He was very still, now. He was listening.
"Someone's been sleeping in my bed."
The bear under the bed breathed slower... and slower.
"The end," I said, at last.
I closed the book. Gently. It was very quiet now. It was silent...
The bear was asleep.
I switched off the light. I closed my eyes. Now, it was my turn.