A small pink unicorn sits staring purposefully forward. A lamp shines in the background, illuminating her soft pastel fur. Suddenly, the Unicorn glaces around, barely moving at all. Seeing that coast is clear and the room empty, the unicorn flicks her head, sending the annoying heart-shaped eartag back behind her head.
You can hear the little Unicorn's soft voice talking to herself, practicing her introduction. "My name is Charmer and I'm a Bean-ee Bay-bee, or at least, that's what the other people called me. About a week ago, I was sitting on a shelf. People would go by and comment on how cute I was or how much I was, whatever that means. Kids would ask their parents to buy me for them, but no one took me home with them. One day, a lady came in and stared at me. I knew then that she was going to buy me. I wasn't sure how I knew, but I did. Sure enough. The lady came right over to me and picked me up."
"'My daughter would just love this! I have to get it for her.' The lady said as she picked me up. Soon I was in an orange bag on my way to a new home. After a long time, however, I started to grow worried. I wasn't being taken out of the bag. It had been a long time and still, I was in the bag. Then, I was packed into a box and started a long, bumpy ride."
"After what seemed like forever, I heard voices outside my bag. 'I wonder what Mom sent me,' A voice said. The voice didn't sound like a child. It sounded like an adult. I felt my box being opened. I felt a hand pull out the bag I was in." 'It's a plushie! I just know it!' The voice said with greater excitement. 'I hope this brightens your day,' The voice read something written on my bag. Then, the moment I had waited for, my bag opened and a big hand came in to pull me out."
"It took a moment for me to adjust. I was looking at a woman who was holding me and smiling broadly. I had hoped that I would belong to a child, but this girl seemed nice enough. 'Oh, a unicorn! Thanks Mom!' The woman exclaimed softly to herself. She took me into a room and set me on a nightstand next to a lamp and a small clock."
"I've waited here all day and now I want to explore. The woman has wandered off to watch some TV with her roommate. Personally, I want to know about the other plushies in this place. I see several plushies not very far away, so I'm going to see what I can find out about my new home."
Charmer hopped down off of the nightstand and started climbing across the fluffy landscape near her home. "Wow, this is a big hill!" She panted as she climbed. "It's really hard climbing."
Suddenly, a voice from below her, one that made the surface beneath her vibrate as it spoke, said with a slightly indignant tone of voice, "Hey, who are you calling a hill?"
With a start, Charmer realized that she wasn't climbing a hill at all. She had been climbing up the arm of another plushie, but one so much larger than herself that she didn't recognize him as a plushie. "Oh, I'm sorry!" She appologized. "I didn't realize that you are a plushie like me."
The large orange plushie shrugged dissmissively, "It's okay, new one. I'm called Dragonite. Do you have a name?"
Charmer bowed slightly in greeting and replied, "I sure do! My name is Charmer, or at least that's what this irritating red eartag says about me. May I ask, where am I?"
Dragonite smiled, "Have no fear. You are in Pamela's room. She has many toys like you, so you are sure to make some friends here."
Charmer was puzzled, "Is Pamela the woman who put me on the table?"
"You got it, Charmer," Dragonite replied easily. "She's the person for all the toys in this room, and a few more thoughtout this small home."
"Not to be rude or anything," Charmer ventured uneasily, "But isn't she a bit... well, old for us toys?"
"Brrrreee Brrreee Brree!" Dragonite laughed merrily. "Of course not! One can never be too old for toys, or at least that's what she says. Besides, she takes good care of us. Some of the other toys talk about lives with children before coming to live with Pamela, and it makes me glad that she bought me new. Children do not always make their toys lives easy. You should be glad to be here. It's a nice place for a toy to live a nice long life."
Charmer considered this. "Do you know a lot about this place? Have you been here a long time?"
Dragonite shrugged slightly again. "No, not really. I've been here longer than some, but there are many more who have been here a lot longer. I am part of a newer toy line, only produced in the last several years. If you want to know more about Pamela and this place, you should ask Princess Bunny. She's been the Toy Leader for all of Pamela's toys for a very long time."
"The Toy Leader is the toy most beloved by the person, so doesn't the position ever change paws here?" Charmer asked.
Dragonite smiled, "I've never spoken with a toy who had been here longer than Princess Bunny, though I've heard stories about a little teddy bear who is older than her. I think Princess Snowball, Princess Bunny's right-hand friend, has been here almost as long, though even she says that Princess Bunny has been the Toy Leader for longer than she's been here." Dragonite shrugged, "I doubt there will ever be another Toy Leader. Pamela guards Princess Bunny from harm quite vehemently, and has done so for as long as anyone can remember."
"Could I meet her?" Charmer asked with an awestruck voice. Every toy dreamed of one day becoming their person's favorite toy, the Toy Leader, the one toy the person would keep and love the most for the rest of their life. Very few toys ever acheived this grand dream, but the few who did were often the oldest and wisest toys.
"Yes," Dragonite replied simply. "I warn you, though, she's very old, so she's not much to look at anymore. She's right over there." Dragonite nodded toward a stuffed animal a short walk away.
"She looks like she's sleeping. I'd hate to wake her up. It is late, after all." Charmer replied sheepishly.
"I told you Princess Bunny is an old toy. Pamela's had her almost her entire life. She sleeps a lot because of her age. Frankly, she's looked worn for longer than most of my fellow plushies, including myself, have existed. She's very nice, though. She won't mind if you wake her." Dragonite explained with a smile.
"I don't know," Charmer said uneasily. "I wouldn't like it if a newcommer woke me up this late at night. I'll just come back in the morning.
"Pamela doesn't leave the house often. She spends most of her day at her computer, which is a big complicated device in this room. We toys don't get many chances to be alone here, so take what time you've got. Pamela won't be watching TV for more than 2 hours, as she has little patience with the 'noice box', as she calls it. You'd best go now." With that, Dragonite flicked his head purposefully so that Charmer fell forward off of his head.
"Whoa!" Charmer yelped as she fell on her tail. Righting herself, she turned on the snickering Dragonite. "What'd you do that for?!" She exclaimed softly.
Dragonite smiled mischeiviously as an old, kind voice interjected, "Dragonite means no harm, new one. He's just a tad too playful sometimes."
Charmer turned around and found herself face to face with a large, worn, pink bunny plushie. "Princess Bunny?"
"Yes, that's the name Pamela gave me... hmmm, how long has it been... 17, maybe 18 years now?" Princess Bunny sighed. "For a person, 18 years old may be young, but for a toy it's rather ancient, I'm afraid."
"And rare," Charmer added. "Few toys are still loved 5 years after they come home, let alone 18."
"Pamela is not like other people. I remember a time when her father threatened to throw me away when she was 12. She hid me with her mother for months to protect me, prefering to pretend that she had outgrown me and gotten rid of me herself than to put me at risk. How many other people would do that for an old, off-brand, decrepid toy?"
Charmer nodded, "I see what you mean, but you don't seem to be in that bad a shape."
"Like all old toys, I've had my share of washings and repairs," Princess Bunny replied, showing Chaser a hand-sewn repair job under her right arm. "By the way, there are two other newcommers you might want to meet. They've only been here for about a month."
"Where are they?" Chaser asked, looking around the cavern-like room.
"Up top," Princess Bunny replied simply, looking upward.
Charmer followed Princess Bunny's eyes, and nearly fell over from shock! There was a massive net of plushies above them. "Oh my goodness!" Charmer exclaimed. "The only way I could get up there would be to sprout wings and fly!"
Princess Bunny smiled. "These old legs still have a little spunk left in them. I'll give you a lift." With that, she scooped Charmer up onto her head and stood slowly. Princess Bunny's legs, now floppy with age, seemed to complain about bearing weight once more. Chaser, however, felt that perhaps she'd left her stomach down below on the bed.
Princess Bunny leaned on the side of the bed and hoisted Chaser up as high as she possibly could. Chaser reached up with her front hooves and grabbed the edge of the net.
"This net holds many stuffed animals. Two of them, a blue dragon with stars on it and a blue lion-like critter, are almost as new as you are. You might want to meet them. Their names are Starry Scorchio, the star covered dragon, and Blue Noil, the blue lion-like critter. That's the best help I can offer, Chaser," Princess Bunny's tired voice said as she retreated to her spot on the bed.
"Thanks so much!" Chaser called down as she struggled to gain a good footing. Finally, she managed to swing a leg up on the side of the net. With three legs in the net, she managed to pull herself up the rest of the way.
Charmer rested for a few moments on top of a pile of plushies, most of whom were already asleep. She looked around. In the distance, she could see blue and decided to journey towards it. She climbed over several slippery plastic surfaces with stuffed animals sealed within them. As she climbed over a blue leg and stood on a pillow that looked like a blue baby bear, she saw them.
"Hello, there. I'm Charmer, Pamela's newest toy. Are you Scorch and Noil, the other newcommers? Princess Bunny sent me." Charmer introduced herself.
Starry Scorchio nodded to Charmer, "Why yes, we are. It's nice to meet you."
Blue Noil nodded to her as well, though he was held down by a large plushie's foot. "Yes, nice to meet you."
Scorch's eyes lit up with excitement, "Did you say that Princess Bunny sent you up here?" Charmer nodded. Turning to Noil, Scorch said, "See? I told you she'd send you help."
"Help? What do you need help with?" Charmer asked. "I'll do anything I can to help you."
"Do you see how Noil is being crushed by Swimmer Funshine's foot? He can't move and we want to play. Can you help get him out?" Scorch pleaded.
"Well, I'm not much bigger than you, but I'll try," Charmer replied as she walked carefully around to the other side of Noil. She glanced down and everything swam dizzyingly. She was very afraid of heights.
"Thank you. I've been stuck here for so long!" Noil said as Charmer tried to lift Swimmer Funshine's foot to allow Noil the chance to escape. Moments later, Swimmer Funshine moved slightly in her sleep. Her other leg knocked Charmer's front hooves out from under her. Charmer tried to grab Swimmer Funshine's other leg with her back legs, but she was slipping.
Noil tried to catch her legs as she fell over the end of the net, but he couldn't with Swimmer Funshine on top of him. Just as she prepared herslef for the terrifying fall, she stopped. Something was tugging at her ear. With a start, she realized that the only thing saving her from falling was the red eartag that annoyed her so greatly since it always seemed to be in her face.
"Oh no! Now what do I do! AHH!" She squealed as her eartag, which was encased in a hard plastic protector, began to slip from the net. She squinted her eyes shut. She wasn't even sure if anyone could hear her or do anything for her. "Help me! I'm gonna fall! Help!" She closed her eyes, her mind in a panic, dreading what was about to happen. Her handtag slowly slipped free of the net under her weight and she fell. "Ahhhhhh!" She screamed as she felt the wind rushing by her.
Expecting a hard bump at the bottom, she was surprised when gentle arms caught her and held her comfortingly.
"Princess Bunny?" Charmer asked in surprise, her voice shaky from fear.
"Calm down, Charmer," Princess Bunny's calm voice soothed. "It's okay. I've got you."
Charmer nuzzled Princess Bunny's chest in a unicorn's version of a hug. "Thank you," She whispered as she waited for her mind to be less jittery. Princess Bunny's arms held her gently.
Once Charmer had stopped trembling, Princess Bunny asked, "What happened up there? Why did you fall?"
The memory of her new friends up above and their plight came rushing back into her mind. "Oh!" Charmer exclaimed. "Princess Bunny, you have to get help for Scorch and Noil! Noil is trapped under Swimmer Funshine's leg and he can't get out to play!"
Princess Bunny nodded slightly, "I know."
"You do?!" Charmer asked in surprise. "Why aren't you sending them help, then?"
Princess Bunny smiled kindly, "Because you shouldn't help a fish escape from water." Seeing Charmer's confused look, Princess Bunny explained, "You see, Noil is in his place. All of us toys have our place." Princess Bunny set Charmer back on her spot on the nightstand.
"You see, this your place. It's the place Pamela put you. It will be your place until Pamela moves you. If all of us toys were to start finding our own places, then Pamela's room would be a mess. Pamela has placed Noil under Swimmer Funshine's leg so he doesn't fall out of the net again. If he were to move about, he might fall and never get back up into the net. Worse, he might fall and get stepped on, lost, dirty, damaged, or destroyed. He and all the plushies here must know their places and return to them whenever anyone comes into Pamela's room. Do you know why, Charmer?" Princess Bunny asked.
"It has to do with everyone's Toy's Light, doesn't it?" Charmer replied softly. "I heard some of the toys talking about it in the store."
"Yes. Every toy has what is called their Toy's Light. Your Toy's Light is the ability to move and speak with your fellow toys. The legends say that over time, so many children have given so much love to their toys that the love became a lifeforce all it's own. Every toy formed in this world has inside them a part of the love given to the toys who came before them, ones who have been destroyed over time." Charmer shivered at the thought as Princess Bunny continued her story. "It is said that your Toy's Light will shine within you so long as you never reveal it to a person."
"What would happen if I did?" Charmer asked.
Princess Bunny sighed sadly, "Your Toy's Light would grow dark and you would never again be able to move, speak, or feel. You would become no more alive than the pillow I am sitting on."
Charmer gasped. "That would be aweful!" She exclaimed.
"Yes, it would. That's why toys must be so careful to never give away the fact that they can move, speak, and feel. Of course, you can't feel pain, but you can feel the love Pamela gives you." Princess Bunny explained, her voice growing wistful.
"What does it feel like?" Charmer asked curiously.
"There is no description for it, really," Princess Bunny replied. "It's like a warmth moving through you. It's a wonderful thing."
Charmer sighed, "I hope I feel it someday."
Princess Bunny smiled. "You will. Perhaps it won't be in the same way as another toy, but every toy is loved in it's own special way."
"So Noil will spend the rest of his life under Funshine's leg?" Charmer asked, remembering her new friends above heir heads.
"Probably not. Pamela rearranges the stuffed animals every few months and next time, he might be on Swimmer Funshine's head. No one knows where they will be when Pamela decides to move us." Princess Bunny explained.
"Does that mean that I won't always be on this table?" Charmer asked, worried.
"You will probably be moved to a new spot one day. Maybe she will put you on the plushie chains in the other room. Maybe she will put you in the net or on a shelf. No one knows for..." Princess Bunny stopped to listen as the sound of footsteps told her that Pamela was returning to her room.
"I have to go now. We'll talk again soon." Princess Bunny called as she lept for her spot.
"Good-bye Princess Bunny and thank you!" Charmer called after her. A moment later, Pamela entered the room to check her email and get some sleep. As Pamela finished reading and put her book back into the drawer under Charmer, she stroked Charmer's face lovingly. Charmer felt a surge of warmth move through her.
So this is love! Charmer thought to herself as she glanced over to Princess Bunny, who had fallen back asleep. As Pamela turned out the lamp, and pulled Princess Bunnny into her arms in such a gentle way that she didn't even wake up, Charmer thought about Scorchio and Noil, who were sitting over her head in their own places. With a soft, content sigh, Charmer realized that she was finally home.