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Tara and the Back Yard Bear

Brenda Havens | Kristy Lankford

Tara plugged her ears as Mom drove into the garage.

“Mom. Make her stop screaming. Kimmie—stop!”

Two-year-old Kimmie stopped screaming.

“Tara, take her to the swing set while I carry the groceries in.”

“Okay…” Tara really wanted to go play with her friends, but she was glad not to help with groceries. “C’mon, Kimmie, let’s go swing.”

Tara held Kimmie’s hand as they passed the side of the house to the backyard. “‘Wing!” Kimmie chortled. She slipped her hand from Tara’s and ran to the patio. And then Tara saw her stop andtopple forward. Now we’ll have tears, Tara thought.

“Doggie.” Kimmie shouted as she pushed herself up again. She pointed,and looked up at Tara. “Doggie.”

“Dog? What dog?” Tara looked up.

“Whaaa?” Tara blinked. It could not be! Tara looked into the yard.

A very big, very brown, and very furry bear was on the patio with last night’s cookout scraps scattered all around her. And skiffling and scampering around the yard were three fuzzy cubs.

A mama bear with her cubs—oh my, that’s a dangerous mixture, thought Tara.

“Ha, ha!” Kimmie shouted as she toddled toward the cubs. “Doggie.”

Tara wanted to leap for Kimmie and run for the house. But she knew that would only make the mama bear run after them.

“Bears run fast. Do not try to outrun them.” Tara remembered Grampy’s words.

“Pop! Pop! Huff, huff, huff!” The big mama bent down and started swattingthe patio.

“Pop! Pop! Huff!” Now down on all fours, she turned in circles. Tara looked in amazement, forgetting to be scared. The mama’s trying to distract us from her cubs, just like Grampy said.

Tara felt her heart leaping through her T-shirt.

“Kimmie, stop. Stay there. Don’t touch doggie,” Tara spoke in her most serious, grown-up voice.

Kimmie stopped. She looked at the cubs and shook her head. “No touch doggie…no touch doggie…” she murmured.

“Do not run or even turn around,” Grampy said. “If the bear sees you, make noise to scare her away, but do not look her in the eye. Move slowly away.”

“Oh, Mommy, I wish you were out here with us…,” Tara said to herself.

The bear stopped scuffling. She pointed her nose straight up, and started sniffing. After a full turn on her toes, the mama looked in Kimmie’s direction and began lumbering toward her.

“Help! Help!” Tara clapped her hands and stomped her feet. Now she stretched her right foot to the side, slowly, slowly.

“Help! Help!” She scuttered to her left foot over to meet the right foot.

“Pop…Pop,” went the mama bear’s jaws. Tara looked at the ground andguessed that she had two more steps to scuffle before she could reach for Kimmie’s hand. Sweat dripped from her forehead andher legs trembled.

“Go. Go away. Help, help!” She clapped and stomped, then shuffled another step toward Kimmie, grabbing her arm.

“Help help,” echoed Kimmie. Tara stomped and clapped some more.

Finally, the mama bear dropped down on all fours. “Mrrr, mrrr …” the mama began bumbling away from the house and out the back way. The three fat cubbies scrambled after her.

“Bye, bye, doggie.” Kimmie looked up at Tara. “Doggie go bye-bye. No touch doggie,” Kimmie shook her head of curls.

Tara clasped her hand over Kimmie’s, pulled her baby sister over andswooped her into her arms. “Kimmie, you…good Kimmie,” Tara closed her eyes, tears slipping down her cheeks, legs still shaking. She turned toward the house.


About Brenda Havens

Brenda Havens is a public school teacher and a published writer, with a background in newspaper journalism. She is currently writing a series of children's books. Currently an active member of The Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group in Eastern Pennsylvania, Brenda Havens chaired the 2014 conference, The Write Stuff, in Allentown. The Gabby story came from a true incident when she and her husband and recently stayed in a cabin on Lake Superior.

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