Teddy-Book waited until her mistress was gone from the house. It had taken longer than usual this evening, since her mistress seemed ecstatic about something or other. She kept putting on clothes and then taking them off and putting on other ones, while staring at the mirror. She also kept talking at Teddy-Book, who wasn’t really listening to her.
“Does this look good? No, no, of course it doesn’t, it’s black and somber. He’ll think I’m dressing for a funeral or something. Okay, okay, so what about this? Is this better? Yellow is cheerful, flowers are good – but no! It’ll be too cold, what am I thinking? Or maybe that’s good. Then he’ll have to give me his coat. And you know what my friend Gil says, don’t you, Teddy? If a guy doesn’t give you his coat by the fifth date then he’s no gentleman and you’re better off without him.”
Teddy-Book sat on the bed, eyes glazed, limbs immobile, just like she always did. She was very bored with what her mistress that evening, and impatient for her to be gone. After all, Teddy-Book thought to herself glumly, she’s usually much more sensible than this, but if this Peter guy stays in her life, I think she’ll never be sensible again.
Finally, at about ten after eight in the evening, the mistress left. Teddy-Book got up gingerly, stretching her stiff, furry limbs. She climbed awkwardly off the bed, holding onto the blankets hard until she felt her soft feet hit the ground, and only then let go. Padding softly to the mirror, she looked at herself, turning this way and that. The mistress still hadn’t caught on to what Teddy-Book was doing, which was to the good.
When the mistress was little, her parents brought Teddy-Book back from a store one day. The mistress fell in love with her, and for a while, carried her around everywhere. She quickly discovered Teddy-Book’s special feature, the one that made her infinitely different from other teddies. She had a pocket inside her. Her round, furry stomach was velcroed shut, but could easily be opened. Inside, the mistress found a lot of fluffy white cotton, but it could all be pushed rather flat against Teddy-Book’s back, and then there was room inside of her to hide things in. The mistress loved to read when she was little, and she began hiding her books inside Teddy and taking her everywhere, and then taking the hidden books out and reading them. She couldn’t hide the big picture books there, of course, so she started to peruse her parents’ shelves and read things that she didn’t really understand but that were fun nonetheless, because she could hide them in Teddy-Book.
But now, Teddy-Book thought every day with a sigh, she didn’t read so much anymore. She spent her time putting on makeup and taking it off, calling her friends and shrieking, and lately, also going out with stupid boys. So Teddy-Book, who was left alone every evening, had developed a habit of her own. When it was night-time, and the whole family was asleep, she’d creep around the house and pick a book off a shelf. She’d hide it in that worn little empty place inside her belly, and then hop back into bed with mistress. The mistress never noticed Teddy-Book’s extra weight because she hardly ever picked her up anymore. Teddy-Book, standing at the mirror, thought sadly about how even now, with a fat book like David Copperfield inside her belly, her mistress didn’t notice it.
So she took the book out, leaned against the mirror with her tuft of a tail fitting exactly between the mirror and the floor comfortably, and continued reading where she’d left off last time. She hoped that one day she wouldn’t have to amuse herself every night like this. As she turned the pages, reading with some surprise David mention a daughter – but who’s daughter? Dora’s or Agnes’s? – she wondered of mistress would one day have a daughter. Maybe then Teddy-Book could be hugged again by arms not much larger than her own and carried about everywhere again.