Once upon a time, long ago, there was a special place in the world called the Hundred Acre Wood. And in this Wood, a boy and a bear had many splendid and wonderful adventures. Together they would splash through streams and nap in the cool shade provided by the autumn leaves of the forest. Life was a vast chasm of interesting new things for them to explore.
But, sadly, as so many already know, all good things must come to an end, even the golden innocence of childhood. Yet, somehow, the boy must have suspected his time was almost up, and he and the bear decided to make a solemn promise to each other that they would always be the best of friends.
"Promise me you'll always be here," the boy pleaded.
"Even when I'm a hundred?"
The bear paused, hitting his own forehead a few times in silent contemplation.
"How old shall I be then?"
"Ninety-nine," the boy laughed.
"I promise," said the bear, his query answered.
"Forever and ever?"
"Forever and ever."
After that the boy's visits became more and more rare. And each time he did come, he seemed different somehow, as though he were fading away while the adult world of reality slowly took its toll on his heart. Then he stopped coming altogether. No longer did the two run together in the forest, or watch the clouds drift lazily by. But the bear was true to his word. Everyday he would make his pilgrimage to the top of the hill and sit at the foot of the magnificent tree where he and the boy had made their pact. But still the boy still not come. Even as the suns final rays faded and gave way to the silver light of the moon, the bear did not stray from his post.
Many days passed and the trees began to lose their once beautiful foliage. And still the boy did not come.
Autumn turned to winter.
Winter turned to spring, and spring to summer. But even then the boy did not come.
The bear looked up to the night sky for answers, but was greeted by a silent, endless void of stars. But even the stars weren't quite as bright as they used to be. The bear dipped his head and sighed in sadness, and began to make his way home, his heart as empty as his hunnypot.
Many more seasons passed by. One year came after another. And every year the sky was less blue, the summers always felt colder than he remembered. There were always more rainy days than sunny ones. But even through the gloom, life moves on as we all must. The bear was sad, but he always kept hope. And every afternoon, he made his way to the top of the hill, just in case his friend should ever come back.
But he never did.
Then, one day, a new face appeared in the Hundred Acre Wood. It was by no means a young face. The skin was wrinkled with age and the once chestnut hair was streaked with grey. His limbs were no longer used to climb trees and his heart wasn't as strong as it used to be. But it was still him.
The same boy who would laugh and play and sail toy boats down the river and skip stones over the smooth waters of the lake. He had changed. But it was him all the same.
The bear didn't realize it, but he had undergone a metamorphosis of his own. He had lost some of his stuffing. His eyes had lost their shine. He was a little frayed around the edges. But he was still the same old bear to the boy. And together the two friends walked to the top of the hill where they had made their vow so long ago.
The two sat in silence for a long time. The best friendships don't need words, and they were now old enough to understand that. But not even silence can last forever. At last the boy spoke.
"For being gone so long. For forgetting."
The boy said nothing. The bear was rather confused, but didn't press the matter. They were together again, and that was all that mattered.
"There's another world out there," he continued a few moments later.
"A place where all you can do is go forward. They won't let you go back."
He leaned into the tree and fell silent for a time. Then he pressed on.
⌠"One day, I realized suddenly how truly alone I was. That there was nothing of any significance left in my life. And I looked back at everything I had done. Each good deed and each bad one. All the 'friends' I hade made and the enemies I had created. Everything I had ever learned and the many things I would never know, never see. And I knew that by an by, all these things would fade. Many of them already had. And the isolation I felt nearly crushed me."
He was silent again.
"But if I could go back... back to another time, another place, where you could ride down the hill in a wagon because you wanted to, or fly a kite just to fly a kite... then, maybe, all those things wouldn't matter so much. Maybe I'll never see the cultural epicenters of the world, or eat at the finest restaurants, or take a cruise to a luxury island. But if I did... I would still want to come back here. The culture will be replaced and outdated, the food always spoils, and islands are rampant with hurricanes. But this," and here swept his arm out, gesturing across the Hundred Acre Wood.
"All this could never fade. Because promises aren't subject to the wear and tear of the world. Even when they're forgotten, they still hold. Do you remember?"
And after that, the past didn't matter. The boy had never left. The bear had never been alone. The years had changed nothing more than their outward appearance. And as they lay down to watch the stars they felt the velvet softness of the grass and peaceful bliss of the breeze one last time before closing their eyes in sleep, neither one to ever awaken again.
As we reflect upon days gone by, we learn that time will always hold sacred the treasures of the heart. -Flavia
This is actually the first fanfic I ever wrote. It was done in the summer between my 9th and 10th grade years after watching Pooh's Grand Adverture, shortly followed by hearing the Kenny Loggins song 'The House at Pooh Corner' on the radio. I was having a total overdose of childhood reminders (my nickname as a child was 'Poohbear') and felt compelled to write this. Now nearing the end of my senior year, I felt I shold revise and type it up to share. It seems like a nice, ironic little way to sum up my high school experiences.
And I don't own the material; just the concept. -SilverInkblot