Humans and animals co-existed rather peacefully. Some animals were capable of speech, which allowed some wild animals to have jobs in human cities. But most still chose to keep living in the forests. Plus, even those animals who couldn’t speak human language weren’t irrational. They were quite smart in their own right and spoke only in the language of their own species.
In a city, three young bear cubs, a grizzly bear, a panda and a polar bear, were some of the ones who could speak human language. It had become a routine for them to move around through different parts of the city, or even going to another city entirely, trying to get someone’s attention to adopt them. And when it failed, they tried to perform some tricks to get some change or food.
The only place they had to sleep were cardboard boxes, which they had to change from time to time because of several reasons: it got worn out, someone throws it away when the bears are out of it for one reason or another, or because they got vandalized by someone who thought it would be funny to do so.
While this caused them some trouble, it wasn’t like it was hard to find a good substitute. However, every time someone tried to do something with their “home”, it made them wonder why would someone go out of their way just to cause trouble to three orphan bears seeking a home.
One day, as they walked towards the place they deemed with the biggest amount of pedestrians while carrying their current box over their heads.
The grizzly bear, who was in the front of the other two, beamed, “Well, bros, I’m sure someone has to notice us today!”
The panda, however, wasn’t so enthusiastic, “Are you sure, Grizz? You say that every time.”
The grizzly bear turned his head and replied, with a big smile, “Someone eventually has to, Pan Pan. Besides, there’s so many people, it’s hard to think that someone won’t adopt us, right? Trust your older brother.”
Panda just looked down, at the sidewalk, with a gloomy expression. He was growing tired and angry at their predicament. The same thing and the same lines had been said dozens of times before only in the last few weeks alone, not to mention the years the trio had been together.
Behind them, the polar bear cub, who was the youngest of the three, just gave a quick grunt in agreement with his oldest brother. The polar bear, self-named as Ice Bear, was a bit odd. He rarely spoke anything and when he does, he speaks in third person for some reason Panda and Grizzly didn’t know. When asked why he spoke like that, the polar bear just shrugged. The other two bears eventually stopped worrying and just deemed it as a strange trait of his.
Once they found a good spot they placed the box down and started with their usual routine to play tricks and shout towards the strangers on the street asking them to adopt the three of them.
One thing that they all agreed on was that they all should be adopted together or no one would be adopted. They truly cared about each other and saw themselves as true brothers and this has kept them together and, to some extent, happy. It was their bond that made them endure so much for so long.
As the hours passed, the best thing that happened to them was that some people threw some change at them and the worst was just some mean glances thrown their way because the people didn’t want to be bothered by them.
Their lack of success wasn’t because of malice or lack of sympathy from the people in the cities. Many people did feel sorry for the bear cubs, but they couldn’t exactly bring home three children and shoulder the expenses of three more mouths to feed. Plus, some even wondered if the three brothers were actually scammers waiting for “some fool” to believe in them so they could rob them.
As the sun went down, the trio just stayed inside of the box and Grizzly still tried to shout, “FREE THREE CUDDLY BEARS! PICK THEM WHILE THEY’RE HOT! SPECIAL DEAL!”
“We’re not bread, Grizz…” Panda muttered to himself, not really liking to be referred as an…object. But he couldn’t really blame Grizzly from trying every angle possible. The only one who heard the comment was Ice Bear who just glanced his way, worried about him.
Grizzly’s throat was dry and was starting to hurt a little bit, but he always kept talking trying to reach someone who would have mercy with them and give them a home. And with every failure, he tried to keep his brother’s happy as much as possible. After all, he was the oldest brother. It was his duty to take care of his family even if it hurt him.
When the number of pedestrians greatly reduced, the bears finally stopped trying to get their attention since they got quite tired. Panda looked very dejected and even Ice Bear, who wore a poker face most of the time, was also visibly upset.
Grizzly looked at the money they had collected and tried to cheer the other two, “Well, at least we don’t have to worry about getting food for the next couple of days.”
Panda glanced the money and his older brother was right. It was quite a sum, for their standards, and he could feel his stomach growling. But before he could suggest going to find a place to buy some food he felt a drop of cold water over his nose.
He looked up and more drops of water started to fall.
“Is there any shop we can go?” Panda asked.
“Ice Bear saw no food store nearby,” the youngest of them said going back to his usual blank expression. He was simply trying to remember where it was the last time he saw one.
Seeing how there was no actual place to shelter them, Grizzly told the others, “Let’s go to that alley and cover ourselves with the box and wait until the rain stops.”
“But the rain could last the whole night and we’re all hungry! Also, the box will be ruined,” Panda protested.
Grizzly tried to reason, “Yes, but this box is sturdy so we can keep it around as long as it doesn’t rain too hard. Also, it’s better than walk aimlessly until we find a place selling food while wet. Remember last time?”
The other two bears frowned at the memory when some store owners didn’t want to let them in because they were soaked.
Seeing Grizzly’s point, the other two agreed to his plan and moved to a now desert alley, flipped the box and covered themselves with it. Thankfully, the box was big enough so they could sit there with some extra space above their heads.
They were a bit wet and cold. The only one who wasn’t trying to warm himself up was Ice bear since he actually liked cold sensations. But seeing how his brothers were struggling with it, he moved near them to share some body warmth. After all, Ice Bear wanted his brothers to be as comfortable as possible.
His brothers appreciated the gesture.
The three of them just stood there as they heard the raindrops hit the box. But there was something weighting Panda’s heart and so he finally voiced it.
“Is there something wrong with us?”
This question quickly drew the attention of the other two, who were a bit shocked to say the least. “What do you mean?” Grizzly asked.
“We do the same thing every day for years now! Nobody wants us!” Panda was tearing up as he continued, “We never did anything wrong and yet nobody wants us. Even orphanages won’t accept us because we aren’t human. They think we would be too rough with the human kids and that we can live perfectly on the forest.”
“Ice Bear thinks many humans are stupid,” he said while looking down.
Seeing his brothers’ anger, Grizzly tried to calm them. He looked at Panda and said, “Come on, guys. If we were in an orphanage, we wouldn’t be seeing so many places. We can even visit other countries!”
This peeked Panda’s interest. This was something he always wanted to do. He smiled a bit and asked, “Maybe can we go to Paris?”
Grizzly smiled and replied, “Sure!” Then he turned to his youngest brother and continued, “Not all humans are bad. If they were, no one would give us money? Plus, that library lady praised you a lot when she discovered you managed to learn a whole new language just by yourself.”
The polar bear smiled a bit and even blushed at the memory.
Seeing his brothers at better mood, Grizzly smiled brightly and continued, “Even if no one ever adopt us, there’s a bunch we can see and do. And, above all, we’ll always be together, like a family. After all, I love you guys.”
After he finished these words, Ice Bear and Panda hugged him. Both were crying a bit. Grizzly hugged them back.
He knew all too well about his brothers feelings. He felt them himself as well. However, he couldn’t let those feeling get the best of him. He had to be the pillar of strength of his family.
“Ice Bear won’t think less of you if you cry too,” he said while smiling. He always knew what his brothers were feeling and he always admired Grizzly for doing so much for them.
Panda nodded and said, “We love you, bro. Thanks a lot for all you do for us.”
With that Grizzly finally let himself to cry. He couldn’t have asked for a better family.