If ifs and ands were pots and pans,
There’s be no work for tinker’s hands
Mother would always sing to me. I would cry, wail as if tomorrow were not coming, then she would sing to me. She would pass me Sir Bear, sit me on her knee and sing.
I loved her voice, tinkling like diamonds. It would soothe me, stop my tears, make me feel at peace. She would pick us up, Sir Bear and me, and dance us around the room, turning my tears into cries of joy. Eventually, she would lay me down in my bed, kiss my forehead and leave Sir Bear and I to our adventures.
Once my mother turned out the light, that’s when Sir Bear came to life.
Mother would turn of the light and Sir Bear would wake up. He’d jump to his feet and look at me with his button eyes. ‘Come on, Matthew. Time to go to Yortan. The Wolves are on the prowl again.’
Nobody ever believed me about Yortan. Sir Bear showed me the way through, through the crack in the wall and follow the tunnel for what felt like miles. The first time, all I had taken was my pyjamas. That had been a mistake. We’d emerged into a Yortan Winter, cold that bites down to the bones and a driving snow. ‘The work of the King!’ Sir Bear had yelled over the howling winds. ‘He fears a war with Debaria! Come, Matthew, we must reach the palace!’
Oh the adventures we had, me and Sir Bear. We had made peace between the kingdoms and ended the vile winter. We had explored the whole map of Yortan, from the Swamps of Misery (now renamed the Swamps of Relaxing Spa Days) in the east, across to the Howling Cliffs in the West. Sir Bear had even taken me to meet his family, though they were a very sombre people.
The King even made me a Prince! I remember rushing home from Yortan to my bed, waiting for mother to come and wake me in the morning, so that I could tell her all about my adventures. She nodded, smiled sweetly then picked me up. ‘What a clever boy you are!’
The fall came when my father returned. He had been gone for so long, I wasn’t truly sure that it was him. There was no warning, just this broad-shouldered man leaning against a cane in the doorway. Of course, I did eventually accept that this odd man was my father, so I tugged at his trouser leg. He sat me on his knee and begged to know what was so important.
‘Father, I am a prince!’ All he did in reply was snort with laughter. I went on to explain about Sir Bear and Yortan and he smiled again.
‘What am I supposed to do, let you keep going to this dangerous land?’ He shouted, his face swiftly turning purple with rage. ‘You won’t go again!’
That was the last time I ever went to Yortan. Sir Bear stopped waking after that day.
Until three weeks ago, anyway. When Sir Bear had crept across the room and shaken me awake. ‘We need your help Matthew.’
I was going back to Yortan.
Sir Bear, everybody’s loyal companion!
The Idiot in Tin Foik