The Sergeant glanced around from the safety of the plastic bucket he was in. How long has it been since Andy played with any of his toys? Three years . . .? The little plastic soldier had to make sure that the coast was clear for the other toys. Andy had kept his heavy backpack on the toy box, which meant that the toys inside had not seen daylight in a week. Now Andy was in school, and the Sergeant came out from under the bed, cringing at the light that hit his eyes. The little toy jumped back into the shadows, rubbing at his eyes. The little green plastic soldier stepped back out, adjusting to the light. The room was cluttered with school textbooks and workbooks. The Sergeant turned to the bucket that was tucked underneath the bed, and whistled for his men. One soldier popped out, as did the other men.
"C'mon, men," the Sergeant called.
"Sir, yes, sir," said one soldier.
The main toy soldier walked towards the toy box. He jumped up, climbing the plastic container. He stood on a thin ledge of the box, and knocked on the hood of it. The tiny green soldier—affectionately called Sarge by most of the other toys—jumped back as Woody opened the lid. The large cowboy took in a breath of air, his eyes stinging as light hit them, and he looked at the little toy soldier.
"Sarge?" he questioned.
Rex leapt out of the box, landing on the floor. He laughed, bathing in the light that filtered on his plastic scales. "It feels like it's been forever since I've seen light!" he cried happily, ignoring the fact that his eyes stung from the light. The cowboy watched the plastic dinosaur lay blissfully on the hardwood flooring. Woody turned back to look at the tiny plastic man. "What is it, Sarge?" he inquired. "Has Andy left for school?"
"Yes, Sir, Andy has left the property," the Sergeant answered quickly. "Spring break is over for him."
Woody sighed, jumping onto the floor, Slinky Dog landing at his side. The toy military man joined the other toys on the floor. The other toy soldiers left the safety of under the bed, groaning at the light. Jessie came out of the box, Bullseye at her side, his ears low and his head hung. The redhead cowgirl wrapped her arms around his thick plush neck. She sniffled.
"I knew that this would happen," she whispered. "He's growing up . . ."
Buzz helped Wheezy out of the toy box, placing him gently on the floor. He looked at the cowgirl, a frown on his features. He reached over, gripping her shoulder.
"It'll be okay," he told her.
Jessie looked at the space ranger toy, her eyes filled with sadness. Woody sighed, looking over the group of toys. There was not many of them left. Etch-A-Sketch had been given up to a second-hand store a few months back along with Mr. Spell, and a few other toys. Hamm grunted in the toy box, pulling himself out of the box, and looked down at the other toys.
"Man, how long have we been in there?" the piggy bank asked, blinking his eyes to adjust to the light.
"Too long," answered the toy dog.
Andy was well into middle school, and behaving much like what any normal pre-teenager would do. He would go out with his friends, do his school work, and worst of all—not play with his lonely toys. Rex got off the floor, his little hands gripping together tightly.
"Andy's not going to play with us anymore, is he?" he asked, a distinct sadness in his tone.
Woody looked at the green plastic dinosaur, his gaze searching the saddened toy in front of him. "No, no, no," the cowboy pleaded, waving down his hands. "Andy will play with us, I'm sure of it."
"Woody, give it up," Jessie whispered, still holding the plush horse tightly. "Andy's too old for us. He won't play with us now."
Woody looked astonished at Jessie, his brown eyes wide and his mouth slightly slack. "You're giving up?" he demanded.
The Sergeant placed his hands to his plastic hips, some of his men coming out from under the teenager boy's bed and joining his side. "Sir, the cowgirl has a point," he muttered, his voice still stern. "Andy's growing up, and he won't play with us anymore." He looked at one of his soldiers, who had a frown on his face, and he comfortingly clamped a hand on his plastic shoulder.
Woody's hands dropped to his sides, his mouth still open. "C'mon, you guys," he urged. "This is Andy, our owner. He'll keep us."
"Like he kept Etch-A-Sketch and Mr. Spell?" Mr. Potato Head hissed, crossing his arms.
Woody grew silent.
"Yeah, never thought of that one, didja?" the plastic potato asked.
Mrs. Potato Head glared at her husband, but then sent a look of sympathy to the cowboy. "Woody, dear, the time has come," she whispered.
"But there's still kids who play with toys, even at his age," Woody said.
"Yeah, but, I haven't seen any," Slinky Dog murmured, his other half falling to the floor, and his head drooped. Buzz patted the plastic dog's head in comfort, and he looked up at his best friend. Bo Peep then entered the room, her sheep following submissively after her. She was clinging to her staff, looking at the group of toys. Woody smiled, going over to her. Sergeant looked at her, a frown on his plastic face. She looked obviously worried.
"You okay, Bo?" he asked, slipping his hand into hers.
She nodded, a small smile on her porcelain lips. "Yeah, I'm fine, Woody," Bo Peep whispered.
Her sheep went over to Rex, one of the heads biting the tip of his tail and yanking at it. The plastic green dinosaur yelped, trying to yank his tail from them.
"Bo Peep!" he yelped.
The female doll shook her head, calling over sheep. All three heads turned to her, and scuttled over to her. Bo Peep reached over, patting one of the sheep's heads. The Sergeant looked at the doll, a little frown on his plastic lips. Woody grabbed Bo Peep's hand, tugging her along.
"I want to talk, Bo," he whispered.
Bo Peep nodded, following the cowboy. The Sergeant watched the two, and then sighed, turning to his men. He glanced over his men, noticing that two of his men were gone—his parachute men.
"Men, the parachute soldiers are gone," the Sergeant said. "Search for them."
The green plastic men nodded, hurrying away to search for the other two toy soldiers. Hamm sighed, waddling over to the television, flicking it on. The piggy bank clicked through all the channels. Rex sighed deeply, shaking his head and walked away sadly. The Little Green Men followed around their "father" and Mrs. Potato Head was silent (her "children" wondered why). Jessie held Bullseye close to her body, gently talking to him, and Buzz frowned.
Andy was on his computer, searching for what he needed to finish his homework. He pulled back, rubbing at his tired eyes. School had been long and boring, and the homework that had been thrust upon him was difficult and mind-numbing. The boy leaned across, saving the work that was on the computer.
"Ugh," he groaned. "I hate homework . . ." Andy muttered to himself.
He rubbed at his temples soothingly when his mother came into his room with a cardboard box. "Honey, how's the work?" she asked.
"Long and boring," he said, a tiny smile tugging at his lips. Andy looked at the box with curiosity. "What's with the box?"
All of the toys' hearts skipped a beat.
"Pick out some stuff," his mother said, walking over to her son's bed, and looked at Woody resting there. "You don't play with these toys anymore."
Andy jumped up, grabbing the cowboy doll and held it close. "Not Woody," he breathed.
"Well, pick some toys," she said. "I'll make sure that they get some good homes."
Andy looked at his mother, and then sighed, placing Woody on his bed. He turned to his toy box, looking over the toys. His mother placed the box on his bed.
"Okay, honey, leave this on the kitchen table when you're done," his mother said, and she left the room.
The young boy sighed, searching through the box. The Sergeant watched his owner from under the bed, going to the plastic bucket. The two parachute toy soldiers had been found, and they watched as the main toy soldier approached them.
"Yard sale, sir?" one soldier inquired fearfully.
"Yes, soldier," the Sergeant grumbled. "Move the bucket down."
The two parachute soldiers nodded, pushing the bucket towards the west wall. But that was when Andy knelt down, his hand reaching aimlessly under his bed. The Sergeant jumped back, pushing his two men towards the bed frame's leg. Andy then touched the bucket, pulling it out. The main soldier stiffened, trying to step forward, but one of his soldiers stopped him. They shared a look; the parachute-man toy bowed his head. The Sergeant looked at him, his jaw stiff.
"So long, army guys," Andy said softly. "You'll find a better home."
He put the Bucket 'o' Soldiers into the box, and searched around. He opened his closet, searching around, grabbing RC, Wheezy, Lenny and another action figure. He placed them into a box, and his little sister entered his room, holding Bo Peep and her sheep. Andy looked at his sister in surprise.
"You're getting rid of her?" he asked.
"Yeah," she answered, placing the breakable doll in the box.
"Okay," he said, grabbing the box, and walked away with it with his sister.
When the two humans left the room, Woody sprung to life, his mouth open in pure shock. The other toys looked up, frowns on their faces. The Sergeant and his surviving two men left from under the bed, and he stood there. He then saluted as did his other two men. The cowboy doll glanced around.
"You're going to do nothing?" he cried. Woody then whistled, and the sound of a barking dog filled the room.
Buster entered the room, and Woody jumped onto the happy animal's back. "Go, Buster!" he cried. "Giddy-up!"
The dog barked, and zipped away from the room. Buzz watched his close friend try to save the toys that were going to be sold. Jessie looked to the space ranger, her brows furrowed and her mouth tight.
Buster walked silently through the living room, going to the open front door. The cowboy doll glanced around as the puppy moved. Even though the dog was older, but he still could move and move fast. The animal sniffed the air, and went outside. He saw the box sitting silently on an outside table. He beamed brightly.
"Go, Buster," Woody egged on silently.
The dog went forward, trotting silently. Just then, Andy stepped forward, and Woody went limp, falling to the ground. The boy looked at the doll with surprise.
"Buster!" he cried. "Why do you have Woody?"
He bent down, patting the dog on the head, and grabbing the cowboy doll. He then walked into the house, holding the doll. Woody watched in horror as a little girl grabbed Bo Peep and her sheep, begging her mother to buy it for her. The other toys watched from the window. Jessie gasped, her hands going to her mouth. The Sergeant watched numbly as his men were also bought by the same little girl. He sighed, jumping down from the ledge of the window. Buzz looked at the little green soldier.
"Sarge . . ." he began.
The toy soldier nodded his head sadly, and then sighed. "That's what happens when your child grows up," the Sergeant simply put. "You lose friends and men. That's life."
Woody was silent the rest of the day and well into the night. He was looking out the window, his face stiff. Buzz looked from the toy box, his brows furrowed. Andy was sleeping peacefully in his warm bed, twitching sometimes. The space ranger toy tried to leave the box, but Jessie reached up, her hand on his arm. He looked at her, and she shook her head.
"Leave 'im," she whispered. "He needs time."
Buzz looked at her, and nodded. "Yeah, you're right," he whispered, closing the lid.
That was when the Sergeant approached the cowboy, frowning. "Sir?" he called.
Woody's hands were pressed to the window, and his forehead was also. His hat was skew on his head, nearly falling off his head when his head leaned even closer to the window. The cowboy doll looked to the much smaller toy.
"Howdy, Sarge," he solemnly greeted.
The Sergeant looked at the doll. "Are you alright, sir?" he asked.
"I've been better," he muttered, looking at Andy.
"We all knew that this was going to happen, sir," the toy soldier muttered.
"I know, but that doesn't mean I won't miss Bo."
The Sergeant nodded in agreement, placing his hands behind his back. "We all will," he said truthfully. "And the other toys, sir. My men, RC . . ."
Woody nodded his head again. "Yeah," he whispered.
The Sergeant lowered his head, looking at his plastic green feet and the little stand they were connected to. His men were gone (at least they were not thrown away—they would be played with), RC, Wheezy, Lenny, that action figure, and Bo Peep . . . The Sergeant sighed deeply, looking at the cowboy.
"Goodnight, Sir," the Sergeant said, leaving the cowboy alone and he went to his only two men left in the world.
"G'night," he called to the toy soldier.
It was silent, and Woody looked to the moon with sad and hurt features.