GOOSEBERRY PIE LIT MAGAZINE

Bearsafe

Photo by Girl with red hat on Unsplash

by Amy Barnes

David and I released our high school biology class frogs, like a teenage dramedy moment where we thought we’d be celebrated by Judd Nelson as rebels, but in reality, we didn’t get to dissect anything that semester because there was no more science money and the frogs all died when they hopped out onto the interstate in front of a semi truck. Our friends and family gave us frog things out of sympathy or admiration: ceramic ones, salt and pepper shakers, lawn ornaments and dashboard bobbleheads; frog gifts arrived for every birthday and holiday and eventually – for our wedding where we had a frog pair cake topper, a frog groom’s cake and stacks of gifts wrapped in green stripes or kiddie frog birthday paper. On our honeymoon, David and I stopped at Fletcher’s Flea Market because the sign proclaimed LIVE DANCING BEAR COUPLE and I needed to pee and there were no rest stops for forty-miles miles and we wanted bride and groom frogs and had already eaten frog legs at our honeymoon hotel, giggling it tasted like chicken and high school. The Fletcher Flea Market smelled of bear poop, motorhome fumes, cotton candy, circus sawdust, sweaty shoppers, and two bears dressed in silly striped satin collars that weren’t dancing, only sitting in a cage looking bored or sick or both as shoppers poked corn dogs and twisty rainbow lollipops at the bears who didn’t respond except to occasionally bat a paw at the toddlers left to watch bears while their parents shopped. The ringleader announced the bears would be dancing soon as David and I headed to the market’s center with plans to release them. But we didn’t have to open the cage door and let the bears out into interstate traffic as both collapsed and didn’t rise again even after the flea market owner pounded their chests and then covered them with commemorative Fletcher Market Bear blankets like the one we bought for our new shared home.

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Amy Barnes writes and edits for many journals and has three collections of stories published by independent presses, including CHILD CRAFT in 2023.

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