A Farewell to Porridge

In the late autumn of that year we lived in a house in the forest that looked across the river to the mountains, but we always thought we lived on the plain because we couldn't see the forest for the trees.

Sometimes people would come to the door and ask if we would like to subscribe to the Saturday Evening Post or buy Fuller brushes, but when we would answer the bell, they would see we were only bears and go away.

Sometimes we would go for long walks along the river and you could almost forget for a little while that you were a bear and not people.

Once when we were out strolling for a very long time, we came home and you could see that someone had broken in and the door was open.

"La port est ouverte," said Mama Bear. "The door should not be open." Mama Bear had French blood on her father's side.

"It is all right," I said. "We will close it. Then it will be good like in the old days."

"Bien," she said. "It is well."

We walked in and closed the door. There were dishes and bowls and all manner of eating utensils on the table and you could tell that someone had been eating porridge. We did not say anything for a long while.

"It is lovely here, " I said finally. "But someone has been eating my porridge."

"Mine as well," said Mama Bear.

"Darling," said Mama Bear, "do you love me?"

"Yes, I love you."

"You really love me?"

"I really love you. I'm crazy in love with you."

"And the porridge? How about the porridge?"

"That too. I really love the porridge too."

"It was supposed to be a surprise. I made it as a surprise for you, but someone has eaten it all up."

"You sweet. You made it as a surprise. Oh, you're lovely," I said.

"But it is gone."

"It is all right," I said. "It will be all right."

Then I looked at my chair and you could see someone had been sitting in it and Mama bear looked at her chair and someone had been sitting in that too and Baby Bear's chair was broken. "We will go upstairs," I said and we went upstairs to the bedroom but you could see that someone had been sleeping in my bed and in Mama Bear's too although that was the same bed but you have to mention it that way because that is the story. Truly. And then we looked in Baby Bear's bed and there she was.

"I ate your porridge and sat in your chairs and I broke one of them," she said.

"It is all right," I said. "It will be all right."

"And now I am lying in Baby Bear's bed."

"Baby Bear can take care of himself."

"I mean that I am sorry. I have behaved badly and I am sorry for all of this."

"Ça ne fait rien," said Mama Bear. "It is nothing." Outside it had started to rain again.

"I will go now," she said. "I am sorry." She walked slowly down the stairs.

I tried to think of something to tell her but it wasn't any good.

"Good-by, " she said. Then she opened the door and went outside and walked all the way back to her hotel in the rain.

Dan Greenberg, "Three Bears in Search of an Author," Esquire Feb 1958, pp46-47.