"Son, you will be a fine young man one day." Mr. Bennett dusted off the shoulders of his little boy’s new tweed jacket. He tossed the empty Harvey Nichols shopping bag on the sofa and placed his hands on his hips. A pale young face looked up at him and a smile emerged in between flushed cheeks. "Do you like it, Theodore? You look just like daddy now." His son nodded. Theo looked at himself in the mirror. He leaned a little to the right and noticed he had the same jaw as his father’s. But Mr. Bennett was handsomer. With a stubble that still made him look fresh and the light wrinkles on his forehead telling tales of the life he has lived, Theo knew his father was all he wanted to become. He knew his dad worked at a factory because he often came home with soot on his hands. But he said this year was going to be better - he was going to be promoted. Mr. Bennet gifted himself and his son a new pair of tweed jackets, while presenting a fancy box of chocolates to Mrs. Bennet. She wore a smirk as if expecting a pashmina instead, but Mr. Bennet held her close anyway and planted a kiss on her cheek.
He took a step back to look at his son again. Mr. Bennet ruffed Theo’s hair, but it still remained in its place. He broke into laughter as he held his palm out in the open. "Again, Theo? You silly boy." Theo had developed a liking towards gel after seeing those commercials on the television. Mrs. Bennet often reprimanded Mr. Bennet for having kept the gel within his reach. He almost always seem to find where they were. He once slept with gel on his hair and woke to a stiff pillow the next day. Mrs. Bennet was not pleased.
It was a fine Sunday in Consett, County Durham. The wind was cold but the trees remained sturdy. Lone newspaper pages wobbled on the curbs and the distant sound of dogs being walked reached the open windows of Theo’s room. He rested his head on his folded arms. When he didn’t play with his toys, he often stayed by the windowsill and observed people. He knew the postman came at 3pm every afternoon to slip in thin parcels onto a big red box, excepting Sundays. He knew the ambulance passed by their street at least twice a week. He knew the milkman came at 11 in the morning to hand Mrs. Bennet bottles of milk and would leave by 2 pm. He knew his father always left for work before the sun rose and would be back as the sun is setting.
Theo heard arguments from the living room. Mr. Bennet just reached home, but he didn’t visit Theo’s room with a small present like he always did. He pressed his ear against the door and heard both his parents in a heated conversation. Turning the knob of his door slowly, he tiptoed to the beginning of the stairs and listened closely.
"I can’t believe you did this, Mary. Right under my nose. Right under Theodore’s nose. Our son! Has he seen any of this? Has he seen any of it! My poor boy! Our son! My son!" Mrs. Bennet sobbed amidst the raging voice of Mr. Bennet. He heard a screech as his father pulled a chair and sat heavily on it. Mrs. Bennet was whimpering. "What? What are you trying to say, Mary? What on Heaven’s name can you possible tell me?"
"I’m sorry, Thomas! I didn’t mean any of it!" Mrs. Bennet continued crying and Mr. Bennet’s voice took over again. Theo held the handrails of the staircase tightly until his palms went white. He heard more than he should. He quietly crept back to his room and took his pillow. He held it tightly as how his eyes remained shut. Theo opened them again, now slightly red. He walked over to his bed side table. He grabbed his unfinished milk bottle and placed it in the garbage.
… . .
It was Sunday. Consett seemed gloomier when Theo last remembered it. The streets were wet and the lamp posts reflected on them. He listened closely to the way the rain pitter-pattered on his window and onto the roads. He saw people running with bags over their heads. He heard vehicles honking from a distance. The mailman didn’t arrive today. The ambulance passed by every two days. The milkman hasn’t come by in years. His father hasn’t left for work about the same time.
Theo visited his father’s room. A pale, thin man raised his head as he saw his son enter the room. "Theo.." He wheezed. Theo sat beside his father and stroked his forehead. His skin felt cold and ill. He looked around the room and was no longer surprised of the clear absence of Mrs. Bennet’s things. The coat rack that used to overflow with her coats were bare. Her mirror usually stained with lipstick was dusty and unclean. Her slippers remained untouched by the door. Theo’s eyes landed on her picture that remained by Mr. Bennet’s bedside table. Mr. Bennet coughed heavily for several minutes. Theo reached over to pass his medicine onto his shaky palm. He tossed it in his mouth and wore a displeased look. Theo held the frame that had Mrs. Bennet’s picture in it. He looked up at Mr. Bennet, expressionless. "Son. I know it’s been a long time. But we wait for the people we love. She will come back, Theo." Theo placed the frame back on his bedside table. He didn’t know what to feel about Mrs. Bennet. Or Mr. Bennet.
"I have a gift for you, son." Mr. Bennet coughed. Theo hasn’t received a present from him in the longest time. Mr. Bennet pointed under the bed. He retrieved a box beneath the thick bed sheet and told him to open the lid. In it rested an expressionless maroon teddy bear, wrapped in thin white paper. "Your mother and I used to call you Teddy when you were a baby. You used to loved teddy bears." Theo attempted a smile but placed the lid back on the box. He no longer played with toys. He kept them all away.
Theo held the box in between his arm and hip as he stood up to leave the room. But Mr. Bennet suddenly held his hand. “Son, isn’t it time for that show? Switch on the television for me, will you?”
Theo couldn’t hide his smile. He ran towards the television and clicked it open. Hopping onto Mr. Bennet’s bed, the reflection of Charlie Chaplin reflected on their identical black-pearl eyes. Theo laughed as Mr. Bennet imitated several of Chaplin’s comical movement. It has been a long while since they both watched their favourite show. The same goes for Theo’s smile. Remembering his present, he took the teddy bear out and held it close to him. Theo rested his head on Mr. Bennet’s pillow and both continued laughing. After several minutes, Mr. Bennet started to breathe uncomfortably. "Son…" he said, "I will rest for a bit. Father feels a bit unwell." Theo nodded. He held Mr. Bennet’s hand. It was cold, but it still clung tightly around his fingers. Theo continued watching with his teddy bear.
Charlie Chaplin went on for another 15 minutes. Theo laughed, almost having to turn away to catch his breath. He knew he was fidgeting a lot and it must have bothered Mr. Bennet. The show came to an end. He wondered why Mr. Bennet didn’t reprimand him for laughing too loud and for being too fidgety. He normally told Theo to keep it down.
Theo noticed Mr. Bennet’s hands were colder and limp. He looked over and saw his eyes were closed but almost open. He shook his father’s wrist first, and then his arms. With tears in his eyes, he leaned closer to hold his face. Theo knew that something always moved below his chin, a sign of life and warmth. It was gone.
… . .
Everyone wore black that Sunday. People familiar to him and strangers gathered around the casket. There were distant sobs and frequent small talk from people around him. Theo responded with a nod. Someone arrived in a white dress and a small book. They said a prayer for an hour until the people paid their respects to Mr. Bennet. Mrs. Bennet approached Theo with someone he hasn’t seen in years. "Theodore… Honey." She held her arms open to embrace Theo. He stepped away and went closer to Mr. Bennet’s casket. Her eyes were red from crying, the collar of her coat damp with her tears. The milkman grew weight from the last time he saw him. Theo winced as he held Mrs. Bennet’s hand. He watched them turn away. He felt a surge of anger rest between his chest.
A man in a loose suit approached Theo. "Theodore. Your father has left you several things in his will." Intrigued, Theo ignored everyone and sat down with Mr. Townsend. This was the only time since Mr. Bennet’s passing that anyone had anything worth knowing to tell Theo. Mr. Townsend handed a Charlie Chaplin poster, a watch, several books, an envelope with several bills and a teddy bear. Mr. Townsend said other things. They seemed important because they included the words "legal", "law", "stay elsewhere", "come of age" and "sorry". But Theo wasn’t listening. As he held the remnants of Mr. Bennet close to his body, he shut his eyes tight and waited for Mr. Townsend to move away.
Everyone wore black that Sunday except for Theo. He wore the the tweed jacket that still fit him perfectly, along with the red tie Mr. Bennet always went to work in. Everyone parted from the funeral. Theo went closer to the casket. After hours of keeping everything, he placed his head and hands on the surface and cried a silent one.
Theo felt his heart break from his chest, his entire body giving up on him. He wanted to scream. He wanted everything to end. But a kind whisper cooed at him. It came from the ground. Teddy looked up at him with a gentle smile on his face. Theo picked him up and they both kept Mr. Bennet company for a little while longer.
Teddy (Mr Bean’s backstory)