Yes, I'm the guy who was 2 days late to his own anniversary! So blame that on an increasing workload and poor planning :)
Still, with that out of the way. I've been on Fictionpress for 3 years! :D Hurrah! Almost 75 stories, hundreds of reviews, and two accounts later. I've learned quite a lot about writing and about myself from this great community, but I'll save my thanks for the end of this story and instead make two announcements.
First, this story is a present for all of you fans who reviewed my story "A sleigh ride with you" and every single reviewer (including my own grandmother) completely fell in love with Bella the panda bear. So when I decided what my 3-year anniversary story would be, it had to include this fan favorite cutie! This story is a prequel to "Sleigh Ride" but it is not required reading.
Second, this story is partly for Ms. Andrea Wilcox, who is a member of a writing group I go to and all of her submissions make me smile! Her novel is a witty and funny chick-flick, which I will wholeheartedly recommend once it gets published! I hope this makes you smile Ms. Andrea.
I hope you enjoy the story.
Bella had been told that she was the bestest fair prize in the world. She had been picked out, cleaned up, and was at the very top of the prize cabinet so everyone could see her whenever they played the bottle knocking down game.
The problem with being the bestest, however, was that not a lot of people tried to win you. Those that did try weren't very good, so she saw a lot of her friends leave with families while she stayed put.
It wasn't so bad, she was the only panda bear in the prize cabinet, so the other prizes always talked to her about her fur and what it was like being a fuzzy panda. It was pretty easy to make friends with the various toys and animals, and she had fun in her home when the humans weren't watching.
When they were, however, she liked to sit in her spot and watch the people who came up to play the game. Humans were very odd creatures since they didn't have fur and weren't very fat or fuzzy, but they did seem to eat a lot. Every human seemed to have something in their hands for munching whenever they walked around the fairground. They also moved around in units called 'families' according to some of the other toys who had been with humans before being placed as prizes, and she was supposed to be part of a family once she was won.
So one day Bella looked out at the crowds of humans and watched as they began to play. The rules of the game were simple for her. There were three stacks of six cans on a table and the humans tossed balls at the cans to knock them all down. Knocking down one stack got you one normal prize, two got you a special prize and three got you the bestest prize! The trick was, you had to knock down all the cans before a timer ran out, and most humans couldn't do that.
While most of the normal and special prizes were taken, she hadn't been won yet.
As Bella watched a mini human boy win a stuffed puppy and dance around with this prize, she looked at it. If someone won her, would they be that happy? After all, she was the bestest prize so people would probably be very happy and her new family would love her so much!
Two full-sized humans walked over to the game next. The female human was very very pretty, and Bella found herself watching her as the male handed her several balls. Something in her eyes was different than most humans, and Bella felt excitement fill her stuffed body as the female pointed up at her.
Then the timer started and the balls began to fly. With her nose pressed to the glass, she watched and heard the first can tower fall, then the second! She wiggled her body excitedly as the male handed the female another ball, and Bella squeaked and covered her eyes with her paws.
For a few seconds there was silence, and then the sound of the third tower falling was right before the timer rang!
Bella wiggled excitedly, dancing around as the man who ran the game walked over and opened the cabinet, smiling warmly as he grabbed the panda bear and handed her off to the female.
As her friends waved goodbye to her, Bella looked up at the woman who would become her mother as she smiled down at her.
"Hello little panda, my name is Belle, and I'm very happy to meet you!"
Bella soon learned that being in a family was fun. Belle was very kind and the first thing she did when she had her new panda was hug her tight.
Bella had never been hugged before, but it felt really good! Nice and warm and Belle smelled nice… this was going to be great.
The male human seemed really nice, but he was mostly quiet and his face turned red a lot when Belle talked. Belle was a good talker, even if most of the words she said were hard to understand.
Still, they sat on a bench and Bella got to really see what the outside looked like, drawing a few conclusions along the way.
First, humans looked even funnier without a pane of glass in the way, and she wondered how they could walk on their silly legs. Didn't they need all four paws?
Then again, Belle could do it… so it must be easy to do.
Second, Belle was really pretty! Possibly the prettiest human in the entire world, and the male human seemed to think so too. He always blushed and stammered when Belle talked about things, and Bella was sure that if she had a mouth that could open she would be stammering too.
Third, Belle really cared about her, always squeezing her hands or patting her head as she talked about stuff. Even the male human was petting her on occasion, so Bella was sure she'd landed in a great family that would love her and cuddle her and give her all the love the bestest panda in the world deserved!
She was right!
Learning about humans was even more fun as Belle placed her in a bag, leaving her head popped out before she began walking away from the fairground and towards her new life. As Bella watched the fair become smaller and smaller in her eyes, her ears twitched as she tried to listen to what was around her, hearing the sound of a door opening as Belle unslung her bag and opened it, putting the panda on the table as the male human walked away.
Bella looked around the room once Belle's back was turned, figuring that she was probably in what was called a 'house' which was basically a big cabinet where a human or groups of humans lived. Belle's house was pretty nice, and although it wasn't as cozy as a cabinet, it was definitely prettier.
Something leapt on the table she was on, the impact knocking her on her side so she could see what the thing was.
It was giant, had two big eyes, and a large nose. Its ears were very big and its tongue lashed out to lap at her as Bella struggled not to scream and wiggle away.
It had brown hair, large claws, and sharp pointy teeth! It was a werewolf!
One of the toys in the cabinet was a wise dictionary, and one of the words was a fearsome monster called a werewolf that attacked little animals and ate them! A werewolf was about to eat her!
Bella looked around, trying to see if Belle or the male human was around to save her as she swatted her clawless paws at its snout.
The werewolf turned and hopped off the table as Belle walked over, picking her up and hugging her close as she giggled. "Sorry Bella, but that was a dog I'm watching for a friend. Don't worry, I won't let her eat you."
Bella hugged her tightly, happy that her new owner would keep her safe as they walked far away from the werewolf.
As time went on, Bella found herself learning the ins and outs of being a family member and more about humans as she spent days at the male human's house and days with Belle.
For one thing, humans had jobs. The male human was something called a writer and it mostly involved a lot of sitting down and pressing buttons on a big screen to make words appear. It was very dull and boring, although he did play nice music.
However, Belle's job was wonderful! She did fashion, which was a job where she made clothes for other humans so they could look pretty! She would draw pictures and make clothes out of big bundles of fabric and walk around wearing pretty dresses and telling her all about fashion. They would read magazines filled with other pretty people as Belle talked about all the clothes that she would make.
Still, the best part of the job was when they played dress up, and Belle would make little mini clothes and dress her up in them.
Bella wasn't entirely sure why she needed clothes, as her fur kept her quite warm and covered, but it was fun to pretend to be a human. Pants and shirts and hats were very nice, and sunglasses made her look very stylish.
She wondered if Belle could ever give fashion to the animal kingdom because pants had pockets that could hold food! No animal would ever be hungry again if food was nearby on their bodies!
"How do I look Bella?" Belle asked, walking out of her bedroom and twirling around in a bright blue dress that made her look beautiful. "I look good! Aww, thank you!"
Bella sat still, once again wondering how Belle could know all the things she would say even though she couldn't talk in front of her as the woman walked over. "I got one for you too Bella-"
Then a ringing interrupted her and she grabbed the little object, pressing it to her ear and starting to talk. Bella wasn't sure what it was, but she'd noticed that humans used them a lot for talking or just tapped them and made the screen move whenever they weren't doing anything else.
Belle talked for a long while on her phone, before coming back and sitting down in front of her, her eyes looking sad as she took a deep breath. "Well Bella, I told you about my fashion career, and that was a call from one of the magazines… they want me to go to Europe."
Then she grabbed the little box again, walking away after saying something about talking to her male friend, leaving the panda with a burning question she couldn't seem to answer.
Where was Europe?