In retrospect it was inevitable.
Bear had a taste for life and all life could offer. Nothing was safe from his probing indiscriminate fingers.
One day during this recent hot summer Bear was attracted to a large clay flowerpot, a pot the size of himself. Glued to the side of it, Bear's fingers clasped the rim and his eyes peered over the edge to discover it was full of soil, dark, damp soil housing sprouting sunflower stems. The pot belonged to the neighbours and had been entrusted to the care of Milk Lady whilst they travelled.
Bear said he was only trying to help. Bear said it was a temptation too much. Bear reached his hand further over the edge, scooped a handful of soil and drew it to his mouth.
The Milk Lady contested she had taken her eyes off him for a Nano second. 'A Nano second,' she exasperated; indeed just enough time to blink in wonderment at his soil smudged dirty face and blackened tongue. There was grit caught between his teeth and a look, not of disgust but of sheer enjoyment. This soil tasted good to Bear. So good he was discovered on subsequent occasions with his hand in the pot, forcing the Milk Lady to push the vessel into a shady corner.
Soil was tasty as was sand, stones, pebbles, dirt and grit. God only knows what else ended up on this Bear's tongue last summer. Bear also relished sucking on stones and if caught in the process would crawl speedily away clutching his booty so that his tiny knuckles were grazed on the hard concrete of the path.
Then Bear found a butt end and decided to suck on it. Several butt ends appeared courtesy of an upstairs neighbour who acquired the habit of throwing them over his balcony down into the gardens below. The Milk Lady was so aggrieved she collected up the butts, placed them in a plastic bag and hung them in the communal hallway, 'Dear neighbour,' she wrote on a notelet in a passive aggressive tone, 'Today I caught my bear cub smoking one of your butts. Please refrain from throwing them over the balcony. I'd be more than happy to supply an ashtray. Thanks, your downstairs neighbours, : ).'
Bear proved he could not be trusted no matter the amount of finger wagging or stern chastisements. The Milk Lady had to be extra vigilant and much time was spent loosening Bear's clenched fist or inserting a finger into his mouth for a quick sweep.
As for the toilet brush....
The Bears were in France when in happened. It was the tail end of summer and they were staying at a charming hotel halfway up a cobbled street, halfway down a hilltop village.
The Milk Lady was lying on the bed, reading a novel. It was the first time in almost a year she had made it to page fifty whilst Bear Senior was at his computer when they realised all was eerily quiet....Too quiet.
Bear Senior sprang into action and rushed to rescue Bear from whatever trouble he was in. It was then the Milk Lady heard the following cries, 'No! No!' Then, 'Eughh, the toilet brush!' and finally 'Bear!'
'God knows how people have used that toilet brush,' Bear Senior said emerging from the bathroom.
The Milk Lady folded down the edge of page 51 and closed over the novel.
'It doesn't bear thinking about.' she said.
Needless to say Bear survived. As for the sunflowers...
The neighbours returned from their holidays and given the wondrous summer expected sunflowers tall as beanstalks. To their dismay only a couple of stalks survived and they were bent in the middle.
Bear & the Toilet Brush is part of an adhoc series entitled Bear Adventures, as told by the Milk Lady.