Libby took really good care of Flapjax, and Flapjax was a good friend right back…well, usually. Sometimes he got them both into trouble, but that was never purposeful! And Flapjax loved his human parents. They watched over him and let him have really good snacks, and they were pretty fun most of the time (as long as they weren’t forcing him into a bath).
So, when Flapjax found out that Mom had to go on a work trip to a place far away – so far away that she would have to go on an airplane to get there – Flapjax knew his duty to the family. He was a cuddly bear, but he was also a protective bear, and he would be there to protect Mom on her trip and make sure she was cozy and comfortable the whole time.
Plus, Flapjax would get to fly…
Flapjax dreamed of flying, of seeing all of the fun places they usually only got to see on the map placemats that caught their spilled Cheerios, and he was pretty sure the states were not really pink and purple and blue and yellow. But if he could fly, he would know for sure. And this was his chance!
Unfortunately for Flapjax, Mom said he and Libby had to stay home with Dad. That meant all kinds of treats like staying up late, watching movies way past bedtime, and eating all the popcorn they could gobble down, so Libby wasn’t too disappointed. But Flapjax had his heart set on flying.
That night, after all his humans had gone to sleep, Flapjax tip-toed to Mom and Dad’s room, found Mom’s suitcase in the dark, and carefully, quietly unzipped it before hopping in and burying himself in a pile of clothes.
The next thing Flapjax knew, he was swinging back and forth, being tossed and moved about so much that he was worried he would get sick all over Mom’s fancy work clothes. Finally, just when Flapjax was losing hope, the ground stopped moving beneath him.
Flapjax counted to 100, but then he couldn’t wait any longer. He unzipped the bag (not an easy feat, but slightly more manageable for a bendable stuffed bear than it would be for us). He peeked his head out of the suitcase and took in the lay of the land. All he could see was feet, rows and rows of feet with all different kinds of shoes lined up around him.
The plane was dark and quiet, and Flapjax would have been frightened of this new, scary place if his purpose in life wasn’t to help humans be less frightened. He knew his role, and he was ready to take action.
Flapjax climbed out of the bag where he had been stowed away under what he now realized was a chair of some sort. He spotted Mom behind him, fast asleep. She was surrounded by other grown-up humans, also asleep. They looked pretty uncomfortable though – sleeping sitting up like that with no pillows or blankets or stuffed animals of any kind. He could help with that!
Just as Flapjax was set to climb up Mom’s leg and position himself as a useful pillow on her shoulder, the ground beneath him once again began to move. The plane vibrated. An engine roared loudly, filling the plane with a terrifying noise. Then, before Flapjax knew what was happening, the plane took off, and he was tumbling down the aisle farther and farther away from Mom.
Post 2: Flapjax Saves the Day
Turns out, this flying thing was a bit more complicated than Flapjax had imagined.
Flapjax groaned as he threw up again in the bathroom at the back of the plane, where he had conveniently landed after his initial take-off adventure. He had been so excited for his trip, but now all he could think about was getting back home to Libby…that and flat, unmoving ground.
A throat cleared in the doorway. Flapjax turned to see a tall man in a fancy suit looking at him curiously. The man bent over and handed Flapjax a cup of something bubbly. Flapjax took it gratefully and gulped it down. Ginger ale, yum.
“So,” the man began, picking Flapjax up gently, “are you going to tell me what you’re doing back here?” Flapjax shrugged. He wasn’t too sure himself. “Okay,” the man continued, “well I have to go bring snacks to everyone else. Can you be good and sit here by yourself until I get back?” The man pointed to a padded chair at the back of the plane. Flapjax nodded, but he had stopped listening at “snacks.” He snatched a bag of pretzels before settling down into his new seat. The man laughed then walked away down the aisle, pushing a heavy cart filled with sodas and juices and drawers and drawers of snacks.
Flapjax liked this man. He was clearly important. And he hadn’t made fun of Flapjax for being sick, which was nice of him. But as much as he liked the man and wanted to be a good bear for him, Flapjax was Flapjax, and it was only a matter of time before he got too fidgety and needed to find an activity.
He spotted a boy in a seat not too far from him. The boy looked a little older than Libby, and he was wide awake and awfully nervous.
Without a second thought, Flapjax was off to save the day!
The human boy turned and jumped. He would have jumped out of his seat, but he was strapped in with a seatbelt. A bear was staring at him. How had a bear gotten there? Was it a friendly bear? The bear was smiling, and it awfully fluffy and cute, but the boy’s parents had warned him about strangers. The boy glanced at his sleeping parents beside him and decided to find out.
“What are you doing here?” The boy asked Flapjax. Flapjax leapt into the boy’s lap and opened up his arms wide. The boy just stared at him. “I’m not going to hug you, you’re a stranger.” Flapjax’s smile faded to a frown. Stranger? Flapjax was not a stranger! He thought for a second, then he remembered his tag conveniently sewn across his bottom. He turned around so the boy could see it.
“Flapjax? What kind of name is that?” The boy asked with wide eyes. Flapjax just pointed at himself with pride. He liked his name…he was named after his favorite meal, after all.
“Okay, okay, well, I’m Jack.” Flapjax held out his paw and the boy shook it. Flapjax immediately jumped into the boy’s arms, giving him a big bear hug. The boy laughed but hugged him back tightly. He was shaking. He was scared.
Flapjax sat with him until he had stopped shaking and had started to snore. Mission accomplished. He gave the boy one last hug, then jumped off his lap and went to find his next new friend.
Flapjax went from row to row, scoping out the humans who looked frightened. A few of them were children, but he was surprised to find a lot of grownups too. The grownups always looked at him questioningly, but they didn’t put up a fight when he jumped in for a hug. They hugged tighter than the human children, but Flapjax had a lot of padding and he could handle tight hugs.
Sooner or later, the humans would fall asleep, and Flapjax would move on up the aisle to his next human in need. He rather liked being useful.
He had made it all the way to the front of the plane when a door opened, and a pair of big, shiny shoes stopped in his path.
Post 3: Flying Flapjax
Flapjax gulped. A tall woman in a dark suit with gold bands along the sleeves and a cap that looked very official stared down at him.
“Well, hello,” she said, kindly, bending down to pick Flapjax up. “What are you doing here?” Flapjax proudly pointed to himself and then to the rows and rows of soundly sleeping humans behind him. “Ahh, so you’re a helpful bear?” she asked, and Flapjax nodded seriously. He always tried, at least. “Well then, how would you like to help me fly the plane?” Flapjax nodded again excitedly. Boy, did he ever!
The pilot carried Flapjax into the cockpit and sat him down next to her while her co-pilot stared at Flapjax curiously. She strapped them both in safe and sound with a thick seatbelt. Buttons, dials and levers covered the dashboard in front of them. But Flapjax wasn’t looking at the dashboard, he was staring out the windows that covered the little room. They were on top of the clouds! He couldn’t even see the ground!
Flapjax was scared at first, but the pilot patted his back until he had calmed down. She had everything under control. Flapjax stared at her as she navigated their big plane with ease. He was in awe.
Flapjax watched with wide eyes as the world got bigger and bigger out the windows. They were almost there…although he wasn’t quite sure where “there” was. He had to get back to Mom.
Flapjax tugged on the pilot’s uniform and pointed toward the doorway. She understood him perfectly and called a flight attendant to come and pick him up. The man from earlier came to the doorway and a guilty-looking Flapjax was handed over. They left the cockpit and the pilot behind, but they didn’t go back down the aisle. Instead, the man grabbed a speaker that was hanging on the wall and spoke into it.
“Good morning, everyone. We are preparing for our descent into Los Angeles. It is a gorgeous LA day – 80 degrees and sunny. Before we land, is anyone missing a fluffy white teddy bear? This one seems to have escaped…” he announced, holding Flapjax up for the passengers to see. Flapjax glanced around and finally spotted Mom who had a very surprised look on her face. He waved, and Mom waved back.
“Flapjax,” Mom said, staring at him with questioning eyes as his new flight attendant friend handed him over. “How in the world did you get here?” Flapjax sighed. It was a long story, and he was quite tired now. He laid his head on her shoulder and she thanked the man. “You saved the day – my daughter would have been very upset if Flapjax here had been lost!”
“Not a problem, ma’am,” the man said. “Although, he seems like the kind of bear who gets lost quite a bit.”
Flapjax would have argued if he hadn’t been so tired. He tried to keep his eyes open. He wanted to see Los Angeles! But as Mom placed him gently back into her suitcase, he fell fast asleep, dreaming of flying through the clouds.
Flapjax woke up later that day on a big white bed in a room he had never seen before. Where was Libby?? Then he remembered his flying adventure. He ran to the window across the bedroom and stared with awe at this new place. Big, tall buildings stared back at him. He could see mountains in the distance, and a big white sign with a bunch of letters: H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D. He wasn’t sure what that meant, but it looked like it was important.
Suddenly the door opened, and Mom walked into the room dressed in her work clothes. She smiled when she saw Flapjax and came over to look out the window with him.
“Someone had a pretty big adventure last night,” she said with a laugh. Flapjax looked at her worriedly. How was he going to be punished?
“The pilot told me how helpful you were to everyone on board. You were a bad bear to sneak into my bag, but you were a good bear to make everyone feel better when they were so scared. So instead of a punishment, your new friends from the plane asked me to give this to you.”
She held out a sparkly, gold pin in the palm of her hand. It was shaped like wings. She gently pinned it to Flapjax’s fluff, and he grinned.
“Libby is going to be very proud of you,” Mom said as she took a picture. Flapjax beamed. He was quite proud of himself, too! “And maybe a little bit jealous…she’s never been to California!”