Bear stood with his mouth open staring. A waft of peanuts puffed on a breath of wind under his nose. His mouth watered, and he dribbled. A small brown bear approached him with a plate. “Have a peanut butter sandwich’” she said, holding the plate out timidly. “You look hungry”. Bear took the plate from her and remembered to close his mouth. His mum had often told him it was rude to dribble but he found it hard not to when peanut butter was nearby
“Thanks” he whispered. “You’re welcome”, said the small bear smiling. She had nice dimples. She put her paw on her chest. “Bessie” she said. “Bear” said Bear. He bit into the peanut butter sandwich. It was the most delicious he had ever tasted - a perfect blend of crunch and butter with beautifully soft fresh bread. “Mmmm!” he sighed, “that is so tasty”. The other bears turned away and resumed their conversations politely ignoring the stranger until he had been properly introduced. Bears can be particular about manners.
“So” said Bear, “Where am I?” “This is Bearpark” said Bessie. “It’s where we live”. “Ok” said Bear, “and who is we?” “The Tree Bears of course” said Bessie, “anyone can see that!” Bessie told Bear all about the life of the Tree Bears. She told him how they spent the summer time cruising the skies collecting peanut clouds and tying them to the breadfruit trees. Under certain conditions, using bats, the breadfruit trees and the clouds interbred and produced peanut butter sandwiches. “We are harvesting our last few cloud banks today” she explained “and then heading back to Whaley Island for winter. In wintertime, the clouds are not as good so we go swimming and eat a lot of fish. Personally I prefer peanuts and other fruits, but it’s not that kind of island, because it doesn’t have proper soil”
Presently Bear found himself being introduced to Bessie’s parents. They invited him to stay so he phoned his mum and asked if he could. She had to say yes of course, as he didn’t really know when he could find his way home, although he was perfectly safe. The only land the Tree Bears knew of was Whaley Island and they were headed there at full speed.
Bessie and Bear soon became friends. They spent long afternoons sitting at the front of the trees watching the bats diving in and out of the foliage. Bessie showed him how to cook breadfruit using a solar cooker that her father had developed after a tree fire some years before. They played climbing games that were so advanced and terrifying that he would have passed his Highers exams without trying.
During the days that followed, Bear ate a lot of breadfruit and peanut butter sandwiches. He became a little fatter, but he still yearned for the porridge and berries he ate at home. Late one night after a particularly large supper there was a sudden and violent jolt which woke Bear out of a deep sleep. Clambering with Bessie to the edge of the trees, Bear saw a terrible sight. Just below were the remains of an island. Water was surging over the beaches and into the forests, which were lifting into the air with creakings and groanings. Several forests were breaking into smaller chunks and moving quickly away from the others. Bear saw that they were just like the one he had been living on. He soon realized that the whole island was covered in woods and forests of Tree Bear colonies. As he and Bessie watched, the whole island sank under the waves. A few minutes later, a large tail appeared where the island had been and splashed down into the water. A waterspout spurted out of the sea and nearly reached Bear on his branch. "The island has completely gone!" he exclaimed in dismay.
The Tree Bears were philosophical. “It’s not surprising “ explained Bessie, “Whaley has been restless for years, so it’s about time he went looking for a bit of company. He ought to be married at his age”. “Oh!” exclaimed Bear “Whaley isn’t an island at all, it’s is a whale! I’ve never seen one as big as that before! What will you do now?”
No one seemed to know.