t all started on a sunny afternoon when the family decided to take a walk around the block. One of the little boys grabbed a stuffed animal to take with him: the terri-cloth bear. Bear and the little boy got a ride in the red wagon while the rest of the family took turns pulling. Bear liked to ride in the wagon. In particular he liked to sit in the back and lean out over the edge to watch the ground roll by under the rear wheels. Bear was doing this when the wagon hit a bump.
"Yeoww!" bear cried as he went sailing through the air. "Ouch," he yipped as he landed on the hard sidewalk. When bear got up and dusted himself off he realized nobody had noticed he had fallen out. He sat sadly on the sidewalk trying not to cry.
It was nearly a half an hour later when the people got home, noticed Bear was missing, and went looking for him. The Mommy found him sitting on the sidewalk near where he had fallen out. She picked him up and gently brushed him off, then carried him home. Bear was very happy to see the house again.
"It was really scary," said Bear, telling the story to the rest of the stuffed animals and puppets the next day. "It was getting dark, and it looked like it might rain. I was worried they might never find me. I even started to cry a little bit."
Bunny shook his ears and said, "Ha! If I got lost like that I wouldn't get scared and cry. I think it would be a great adventure!"
Mugsy shook his head, "You say that now, Bunny, but if you were lost and alone and thought you might never see your friends again, you would have been scared too."
"Bear's just a frady-cat," said Bunny, "now if I'd been there-"
"Bunny!" interrupted Mugsy. "That's not a very nice thing to say. You apologize to Bear."
Bunny hesitated for a moment.
"Bunny!" repeated Mugsy.
"All right, I apologize, Bear," said Bunny, not really feeling sorry. "I shouldn't have called you a fraidy-cat."
"Good," said Mugsy. "I don't want to hear any more about Bear being afraid when he got lost. I think he was very brave."
Later that day Bunny was still thinking about being brave. He wanted to show the rest of the stuffed animals that he would not be scared on an adventure. Bunny wasn't sure about how to do that though.
All the people were at work or school or shopping and Bunny sat alone in the living room. It had been the younger boy's birthday just a few days ago and the living room was still decorated with a dozen balloons of all sorts of colors. They floated on their strings at the top of the room while a breeze from the heater vent pushed them around making them bump into each other.
Suddenly Bunny had an idea. He ran over to the dining room cabinet and opened the bottom door. There he found a small basket. After dragging the basket into the living room he began to hop high into the air. With each jump Bunny grabbed the string of a balloon. Then he took the balloon to the basket and tied it to the handle. After the balloon was secure Bunny hopped after another one. When he was done every balloon in the living room was tied to the basket. The pull from the balloons was so strong Bunny had to find a sack of pennies to weigh the basket down and keep it from flying off. Then Bunny dragged the basket out the back door.
"Everyone, see what I've done," called Bunny. "I'm going to go on an adventure! Come to the deck in back of the house."
Almost all the stuffed animals and puppets were curious about what Bunny was up to so they climbed down the steps and out to the deck behind the house. Sitting in the middle of the deck was the basket and flying above it the many colored balloons. The animals gathered around it to get a good look.
"Very pretty, Bunny" said Mugsy. "What is it for?"
"I'm going to take a balloon trip," replied Bunny as he climbed into the basket. "All I need to do is throw this sack of pennies out and away I go."
Bunny threw the sack out and it landed on the deck with a thud. The balloons, with the basket hanging below, began to rise into the sky.
"That's very clever, Bunny," said Mugsy, "but how do you get it to come back down?"
"Oops," said Bunny, "I forgot about that."
A great gust of wind pushed the balloon up and away into the sky. The stuffed animals started chasing after it, but they had to stop when they reached the fence at the end of the yard.
"Help! Help!" yelled Bunny. "Somebody get me down!"
"Bunny," barked Mugsy. "Untie the balloon strings!"
"I can't," the little rabbit replied, "they're fastened too tight."
"Well, cut them!"
"I don't have anything sharp," answered Bunny.
There was nothing the rest of the toys could do to help Bunny. In a few minutes the balloon was out of sight. Bunny watched the house disappear as he wondered if he would ever see it again, or talk to his friends again, or sleep in the big, soft bed again.
When the house was out of sight, Bunny began to look around at what else he could see. He was flying over the tops of houses and trees. He could see a river with real ducks paddling on it. On the other side of the river he could see railroad tracks and on the tracks chugged a train with lots of box cars behind it. Behind the train was a mountain.
"This isn't so bad," said Bunny to himself, feeling a little bit better. "I knew I wouldn't be scared if I went on an adventure. Now if I could only figure out q way to get the balloon to take me home..."
Then Bunny looked ahead and saw in front of him a very big and dark cloud. Bunny trembled a little bit, because the big cloud looked very unfriendly. Suddenly the balloon reversed direction as a strong, cold wind, from the cloud, rushed by. Bunny started to feel tiny drops of water hit his whiskers.
"Oh, no," said Bunny to himself, "It's going to rain! How could this get any worse?"
Then there was a flash of light and a deep roar from inside the cloud.
"Oh no," cried Bunny, "Thunder and lightning! It is getting worse."
Bunny sank down in the basket to try and hide from the thunder. The wind whipped up in gusts driving the balloon in front of it. As the balloon went the basket swung up and down and left and right. Bunny started feeling sick. "I wish I'd never said that Bear was a fraidy cat!" said Bunny. "Now I'm cold and alone and scared too! It isn't much fun."
Back at the house Bear was standing up at one of the windows watching the sky. Bear remembered how scary it had been when he'd been lost and knew Bunny might be scared too. So Bear was worried about him. Then Bear saw Bunny's balloon. The wind from the storm had pushed it back the way it had come and in a minute it would pass over the house again.
Bear shouted to the rest of the stuffed animals. "Everybody! Here comes Bunny's balloon. I've got an idea about how we can help him!"
Bunny was huddled at the bottom of the basket when he heard his named being called. When he peeked up over the edge he saw the stuffed animals standing in the yard below.
"Bunny" barked Mugsy. "Get ready to grab Bear's hand."
Bear was sitting on one of the swing seats with his feet and one paw wrapped around one of the ropes the seat hung from. Mugsy pushed the swing hard and sent Bear up into the sky. When Bear swung back Mugsy pushed him hard again. With each swing Bear went higher and higher into the sky.
"Bunny," barked Mugsy, "when you go by grab Bear's paw and jump out of the balloon. Get ready!"
Mugsy gave the seat another hard push and Bear sailed way up into the sky. After a few more pushes Bear was going up as high as Bunny's balloon. Bunny leaned out of the basket as it raced forward to where Bear was swinging. He would only have one chance to grab Bear's paw. If he missed the wind would carry the balloon away before Mugsy could give the swing another push.
"This is it, Bunny" barked Mugsy. "Grab Bear's paw this time!"
The big, brown dog pushed and the swing went up. Bear reached out his paw. From the balloon Bunny leaned out as far as he could. Their paws touched and ... missed!
The balloon went sailing past the swing set. Bunny thought, "Oh no, what am I going to do now? I'll never see my friends again!"
The swing came back down and Bear yelled, "Mugsy, push me again! Really hard!"
The brown dog answered, "But the balloon has gone past! You'll never reach Bunny now!"
"Please, just do it!" answered Bear.
Mugsy pushed the swing one more time. It went up carrying Bear. When it reached the top Bear jumped off.
"Bunny, catch me!" shouted Bear. Bunny reached out and grabbed Bear and pulled him into the balloon's basket.
"What did you do that for?" asked Bunny. "Now we will both be lost."
"That's all right, Bunny," Bear answered. "At least you won't be lonely. You'll be lost with a friend."
"Oh, thank you, Bear" answered Bunny.
Then they heard Mugsy bark, "You did it! The balloon's coming down."
Sure enough the balloon was rapidly losing altitude. In a few seconds it made a gentle landing in the back corner of the yard.
"Why did it go down?" asked Bear. He was relieved, but puzzled.
Bunny thought for a moment, then answered," It was your weight, Bear. The balloon could carry one of us, but not both. When you jumped on board your extra weight made it come down. You rescued me Bear!"
The stuffed animals crowded around the balloon. Mugsy plopped the bag of pennies into the basket so it wouldn't fly away again.
"I think we had better get back inside the house," said Mugsy. "It's starting to rain."
"Yes," said Blue Penguin. "If we get all wet the people will have to put us in the dryer machine to get the water out. I don't like going around and around in that thing."
Neither did the rest of the animals, so they hurried back into the house. Once there they disassembled Bunny's balloon and put everything back where they found it so it wouldn't be missed.
Later on, as they sat up on the big bed, Bunny thanked Bear for rescuing him. "I thought I would be lost forever. Thanks for jumping aboard like that, Bear."
"I just remembered how scared and alone I felt when I was lost," replied Bear, "and I didn't want you to feel that way too."
"I'm really sorry I called you a fraidy cat, too," said Bunny. "In my book, now, you are one brave bear."
Copyright Lee Krystek 1997. All Rights Reserved.