The Tiny Bear

The Tiny Bear

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Be The Best You Can Be

The Tiny Bear

Have the courage to face the truth.

Do the right thing because it is right.

These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.

~W. Clement Stone

Aunt Evie had a miniature dollhouse. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Everything about it looked so real, as if tiny people had handcrafted each little doorknob and every piece of furniture.

Every Friday I went to Aunt Evie’s because Friday was card night for my grandparents and their brothers and sisters. They would gather around in the dining room, eating pie and laughing, while I looked at the dollhouse for hours.

Sometimes I would pick up the delicate furnishings and place them in different positions. It was fun to decorate with the little items. Once, I asked Aunt Evie where she got the little miniatures so that I could buy some, too, one day. But Aunt Evie said that most of the miniatures were handcrafted and couldn’t be replaced.

One such item was a small teddy bear an inch high. I was amazed by how beautifully it was sewn together. It was so tiny and had two little beads for eyes. I wanted the bear badly. If I take it, Aunt Evie wouldn’t even notice it’s missing. But I could hold it in my hand and admire it all day long, I thought to myself.

That Friday night, it took me a couple of hours to get the courage to take the bear and put it in my pocket. I had to wait until nobody was watching me. Once the bear was in my pocket, I couldn’t wait to get home and look at it. I would have to hide it somewhere at home, so that no one would know I had it.

That night, I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned and couldn’t get comfortable. What an awful person I am, I thought. I’m a thief, and I stole from my family. When I woke up the next morning, I had a fever, but didn’t seem to have a cold. I stayed in bed to punish myself for what I did. I couldn’t tell my grandmother or Aunt Evie. I was too embarrassed about what I did. There’s no turning back, I thought.

I felt worse and worse. My stomach started aching badly. I started hating the bear. I hated myself, too, and knew that if I didn’t do something quickly, I wouldn’t be released from the bad feelings I was having.

I decided to tell my grandmother. My hands were shaking, and I couldn’t hold back the tears.

“I thought you knew better than to do something like that.” My grandmother shook her head in disappointment.

“I feel awful, Granny. I can’t live with myself and what I’ve done,” I said.

“There’s only one way to make this right. You have to take the bear back and tell Aunt Evie what you did,” she said.

I started to panic. Facing Aunt Evie and telling her that her niece was a thief was too much to ask. Aunt Evie will never forgive me, and for the rest of her life, I will be embarrassed to look her in the face, I thought.

“You’re going to stand up and take the consequences for what you did, whether you like it or not,” my grandmother said.

My finger was trembling when I rang Aunt Evie’s doorbell. She opened the door as if she already knew what I was going to say. I showed her the little bear and told her I was sorry. Quietly, Aunt Evie picked up a box by the door and handed it to me. Inside was a miniature tea set.

“I admire your courage for coming here and returning the bear. You are my favorite niece even more now,” Aunt Evie said.

During the ride home, I looked at the present on my lap. My stomach felt a lot better.

~Lara Anderson

More stories from our partners