Finley’s First Birthday Faerie Story


Finley’s Birthday Bear
A Faerie Story from the Worlds before the Door
By Abby Jones

Once upon a time, the word went out through all the land that a baby was to be born. It sifted through trees to the Land of the Lost. It reached the Unicorn Woods. The rock dragons heard it and trumpeted for joy. The proclamation twitched the ears of a white fox. Out on the ocean, the word past from ship to dragon-headed ship, and even old bears and white daisies heard it. But the news mattered most to one big family: Great Gran, Grampa and Grammie, their five children, their five children’s spouses, and all the cousins rolling around on the floor. A new baby. A new baby. A new baby! “Nine nieces and nephews isn’t quite enough,” the oldest Auntie said. “I think we could use at least one more.”

Everyone agreed.

Then began the big wait.
One special, significant morning, a new baby opened her small dark eyes. She blinked up at all the faces leaning in over her. They smiled. The baby frowned. She didn’t know these faces. Tears flooded her eyes and her lip bulged with a cry.

“Finley?” A voice she recognized came from the mouth of a red headed girl. “This is our family!”

The baby searched the faces again. They cooed and said her name. The voices. She recognized all the voices. She’d heard that man boom when he said “Bruce” before. She’d heard those ones singing on Sunday. The faces went with voices she knew well. They were loud, teasing, laughing, long conversations, books being read, and Christmas songs sung. They were love. They were her family.

From the general clamor came the sound of little Remi and Imogene, baby Finley’s sisters. They leaned in close and felt her tiny toes, her little hands, and her nose. They wondered at their new sister, at the magic of having a baby to touch and smell and teach. Their Mama smiled down at them. “She’s here.”

“She’s here!” Imogene shouted.

“She’s here!” Remi mimicked as best she could.

“Remi, let’s go get our gift.” Imogene took Remi’s hand and darted off down the hallway. They tumbled into their room, dug under their bed, in their closet, in their reading tent, and finally found a small package in their doll house. It was wrapped in paper they’d colored, but mostly tape. Brown fur poked out here and there.

With a squeal, they charged back into the crowded, but hushed living room. Poking and prodding their way back to their Mama’s side, they handed the gift to Finley.

“You’ll have to open it for her. She can’t yet,” Mama said.

Imogene handed the present to Remi. “You open it for her.”

Remi tugged and tugged on the tapped paper, but couldn’t rip it. She passed it to Daddy. He made quick work of it with his pocket knife. Oh so gently, Remi spread the paper apart reveling a brown, baby bear. She lifted it out of its sticky bed and presented it to Finley.

Finley’s eyes focused on it. Her little legs kicked. Her tiny fist wiggled.

“I think she likes it, girls.” Mama nestled the bear in next to Finley.

“I think she does!” Imogene crooned.

“Well, she is Finleybear,” Daddy said. “Of course she likes it.”
The little bear, freshly born from its package, blinked his little eyes and smelled with his nose. He smelled Finley and thought her the best smell in the room full of smells. Happy nestled in beside her, the bear went to sleep. Finley and the bear, both so young, fresh, and new, slept while their family tended to Mama, and their bigger family visited with food and treats. They woke to new days and new abilities until one day they could sit up, grab hold, and even recognize people in the wider world. Each day Finley grew bigger, and her bear grew braver. He was her stuffed animal, and as such, it was his job to keep away bad dreams and make the covers safe. Each night he curled in close to her and watched over her while she slept. Night watching is a big job, but Tock, as they called him, didn’t mind.

Sometimes, when rainbows came out, Tock would take Finley to watch the real bears’ weddings. She would hold him close and peek through the underbrush. He made sure she wasn’t seen. The real bears don’t like people to watch their marriage days.

Over the years, Mama patched Tock up. Once his tail came off. Finley had dragged him through the house by it, screaming and laughing after her sisters. Both his ears and one eye also had to be sown back on. By the time Finley no longer needed Tock, he looked quiet shabby. But Tock smiled. Each worn spot, each miss-matched stitch, each loose limb proved he’d been a good guardian.

One day, Tock slipped away to find a quiet spot. He’d felt the calling of Holiday—the magical place stuff animals go to when their owners no longer need them—for several days, but he wanted to make sure Finely would really be fine without him. He watched her and watched her from the dresser where she’d stuck him months ago. She hadn’t picked him up once since then. He hadn’t slept in her bed or guarded her dreams. They’d had no silly adventures since long before he started sitting on the dresser. Yes, it was time. He was wearily to his bones. It was time to go to Holiday.

Tock slipped away one night, leaving a kiss on his dear, grown Finley’s cheek. He walked through the shadow of the moon to a tiny door that opened on the backside of a waterfall. Tock shook water droplets from his coat as he stepped out into a field. A happy, babbling brook rolled down on his right and wide rolling hills ran away on his left. Holiday. It was a good land. A good place.

“Hello!” called a yellow bear in a red shirt. “Welcome to Holiday. Have you seen my honey pots?”

With one glance back at the door, back at his Finley, Tock tumbled off to help the silly old bear find his breakfast.

The End


Work In Progress: Teddy Bears

Note from the Author: I have always had a love for stuffed animals, and I have always loved Winnie-the-Pooh and the Velveteen Rabbit, so the other day I decided to try my hand at a stuff animal story. I’m going to share it here every other Friday, between Cousins stories, until I’m not sure what to do with it. This first part, the Prologue, is a reworking of one of my earliest writing bits. It was probably the second or third thing I ever wrote. It’s nice to have a place to finally put it. I think you can probably see some influence from many of the British children’s stories I loved growing up in the cadence and wording of this prologue. Enjoy!



There is a waterfall at the end of the world. It falls softly, musically, beautifully down from the side of a watchful, mothering, mossy cliff. Now, this cliff is not a normal cliff, no. It guards a special clearing, a special opening, a magical entrance, if you will. This place guarded by the cliff is a playful vale surrounded by a forest of delightful dogwoods, who share their lives with little red buds and cherry blossoms, which bloom year around in soft purples, whites and pinks. A little enchanted path—made of purple, gray, and green moss-covered stones—comes in from the western side of the forest and right up to a door in the cliff. Where the path ultimately leads back east beyond the trees and little hills no one knows, but a few creatures wander it at times.

The stream flowing from the waterfall is shallow and slow moving, shimmering as the sun happily dances on its surface. Bright orange goldfish and iridescent guppies play in its warm waters, and at all times of the year you will find multitudes of tadpoles, frogs, and turtles lazing in its softness. As the water falls from the protective cliff, it forms hundreds of multi-colored rainbows through which butterflies and birds dance all the amiable day. They fly gracefully in a cornucopia of colors and types: parakeets, parrots, love birds, doves, ducks, and even chickens, monarchs, swallowtails, and even the red lacewing.

In the clearing watched over by the waterfall, near the small door by the path, you will find all manner of stuffed animals: puppies, kitties, dogs, and cats, horses, ponies, cows, goats, pigs, and guinea pigs, bunny rabbits and hamsters, gerbils, snakes, lizards, and a few spiders, lots of mice, and some rats, a few hedgehogs, chinchillas, and ferrets, some wolves, and some foxes, lots and lots of bears, a few tigers, elephants, giraffes and alligators. You will find, in this clearing, almost all manner of animals, yet something sets these apart, dear one, something makes these animals so special that they have been allowed a home here for an extraordinary reason.

When the sun sets in our world, over our homes, it rises in the clearing. It slowly breaks over the stream, turning the water in to a pot of flowing gold, the rocks in to expensive jewels, and with great excitement and anticipation it awakens the animals. They turn to the path looking, waiting, waiting, for they are not yet able to let go.

Silence fills the forest.

Then . . . children burst forth from the door.

All manner of children from every place in the world and of every nationality, young and old, happy and sad they come to the clearing. The stuffed animals squeal with joy as they run looking for that special little person who meant more to them than anyone else in the waking world.

The children dance in the stream with their fish, they roll on the ground with their dogs, and sit quietly with their cats. Tears of loneliness are wiped away, and every dream is listened to with great seriousness and no judgment. The loudest and roughest playing is always allowed here, but no sort of meanness is ever tolerated to man or beast for this place, this special place, of beauty and love, is the place where your stuffed animals go when you grow up. This is where they wait quietly, patiently for you to sleep and dream of Them. Then one day they are strong enough, and you are strong enough, for them to take the path east away from the door in the cliff.

But, while there, my dear brothers and sisters, you will find your bunnies, fish, birds, and dogs. Your stuffed animals, my children, are not forever lost to you, no. You will find them at the end of the world where the water falls.


Beyond the fluffiest white clouds, over rainbows, and under rain drops is a world of small toys . . . of teddy bears and stuffed animals. When their children grow up, or unspeakable horror die, the animals step through the door under the cliff. Teddy bears no longer hugged or needed to keep children safe fade away and come here. Here? Where is here? Why, here is the place of every stuffed animal ever truly and completely loved by a child, loved to the point of break down. These treasured animals come to this special place called Holiday.

This is where Tock woke up.