Story: Monty Climbs a Mountain

Monty climbed a mountain. He doesn’t do things like that anymore as he’s grown older, preferring to be cuddled by Sarah, the girl who had bought him from the toyshop all those years ago. But when he was younger, just after his naughty years as a young teddy, when he delighted in swinging around, chasing cats and dogs, knocking over furniture and sneaking food from windowsill ledges, he began to feel restless. The games he had once delighted in now seemed childish and silly. Once upon a time he had made traps for the other teddies, guffawing as they climbed trees for large homemade pies, which they assumed had appeared miraculously on the branch, and then fell down into the neighbouring pond, coming up drenched in frogspawn. He would make faces imitating Sarah’s mum when Sarah was being told off, while she tried to suppress a giggle. Sarah was the only one he never teased or played pranks on. He took good care of her because she had taken good care of him. When she was ill he brought her warm soup and bread, when she was well he made her lemonade. They would sit out together in sun, as she chatted about school, which teachers she liked and which teachers she hated, which of her friends she had fallen out with, and what she wanted to be when she was older.

This implanted in Monty a strange feeling of sadness. At first he didn’t understand it, but then he realised that his owner’s life would change. She had things to look forward to, new experiences to enjoy, and future goals to achieve. But Monty’s life would go on as it always had; nothing would ever really change. A new teddy might move into the neighbourhood, but it would soon settle in amongst the others, either the playful cheeky ones like Monty, or the more relaxed lazy teddies who lay about in the sun when it was warm, and snoozed in their owners’ beds when it was cold and rainy. Someone might have another story about a cat which had tried to jump over a pond and had slipped in, a dog which had tried to chase a cat up a tree and had ended up dangling from a branch for twenty minutes. But they seemed like reformulations, slight variations of stories which had been told in the past.

What really got to Monty was that none of the other teddies seemed to feel the way he did. If anything they became less adventurous, preferring to laze about, delighting in making bad jokes while they sipped on juices and milkshakes. Monty became full of frustration, and he took to swinging about on his own, first using the lamp posts to travel around the area in which he lived, but then stretching further afield, swinging downtown. Even here, though, nothing excited him. The cinema produced some entertaining films, the bookshops some interesting books, the theatre some clever plays, the café’s some good cappuccinos. But they weren’t enough.

So one day he decided to get up and go. He packed a rucksack, kissed Sarah on the cheek as she lay asleep, and swung off into the night. He felt sad because despite his many talents he did not know how to talk and could not say goodbye. She might think he’d run away for good or had gone missing, but he had no choice. The restlessness in his heart and grown too great.

Swinging through the town and then walking through the fields which grew food to supply it, tipping his hat to the sheep and cows as he walked by. He travelled through the long nights and napped throughout the day, allowing the sun to warm his tired muscles. He saw many things; big tractors which ploughed the fields, rabbits which scuttled through the undergrowth. But none of it was enough to satisfy his burning curiosity, and so he kept walking.
The ground rose, and the grass which had once been lush and green became drier and thinner. The air grew slightly colder. The fields gave way and woodland appeared. Finally Monty was able to swing about again to his heart’s desire. However he became more cautious, taking time to wonder at the new sights and dangers which befell him. Owls hooted and swooped down from high up branches. Deer moved through the trees quietly, and wolves followed him silently. Then one day Monty came across a bear.

Now Monty had only ever known teddy bears. He had assumed that the creature which they had been based, lovingly made in the teddy workshop just as he had been, would be cuddly and cute like they were. He was shocked by the huge animal which reared up at him as he approached, roaring loudly. Monty went stiff with terror, as if the blood in his veins had turned to ice. He took a step back, and to his surprise the bear relaxed and with an aggressive look carried on nursing the cub at his feet. Monty understood. The bear didn’t want to hurt him, it just wanted to protect t its cub, just like he would protect Sarah if any teddy tried to play a prank on her, or any cat tried to drink from the glass of water she kept by her bed at night. Averting his eyes and making no sudden movements to show he meant no harm, he swung himself back into the trees and carried on with his journey.

On he travelled, the trees becoming sparser and finally giving way to rocky ground, so that he had to take to walking again. As he came to the top of a small hill, panting with the effort of the climb, he looked up in wonder at a fantastic new sight. A huge mountain, tipped with snow at the top reared before him. Stopping to replenish his water from the river and to collect berries growing on the banks for later (bears are very good at finding the berries which aren’t poisonous) he then started to climb. For a time he could walk the paths but as he approached the top, a bare cliff face stood before him. He had no choice; he would have to climb it.

Adjusting the pack on his shoulders Monty began to pull himself up the face. He methodically searched for handholds and footholds, being careful to avoid wasp nests and brambles. But as he rose the footholds and handholds became less frequent and secure. Finally, when he was about thirty metres from the top, the inevitable happened. The handhold he had found with his right arm gave way and Monty was left dangling at the side of the cliff face. Clinging on desperately, he searched in futility for another nearby handhold. His mind suddenly filled with despair. Why had he come here? Why was he clinging on for his life when he could be in bed right now, snuggling up to Sarah as she read him his bedside story before sleep? What madness had driven him up here?

As these thoughts filled his brain, he glanced out of the corner of his eye a rope that lay about a metre away from him, camouflaged by the grey rock so that before he hadn’t seen it. With a deep breath and a quick prayer to his guardian angel Monty leapt, and managed to grab the rope by the barest of inches. He could feel that the rope wasn’t very strong and flexed under his weight, so he climbed quickly. Luckily it didn’t give way, and a moment later Monty collapsed on the top of the mountain. The brief rush of energy he had felt from the adrenaline rush disappeared, and he lay exhausted, his mind and body unable to do or focus on anything.

The top of the mountain. He had made it to the top of the mountain. Climbing up slowly, his legs trembling from the effort, his eyes gazed in wonder at the world before him. He could see where he had come from, the trees and the fields, the distant town and the cars which crawled like ants through the streets. From the clouds which drifted through the sky, to feather caught by the wind which spiralled down to rest at his feet. Everything seemed magical, intense and colourful like it never had before.

With a smile Monty started back down the mountain, ready to return to Sarah.