It was the peak of the afternoon, but there was not a trace of sunlight that could be seen. Instead dark clouds swarmed the skies threatening to come down bursting, holding off their fury to finish their late lunch. Although the air rippled with the excitement of being laden with moisture very soon, Mr.Bear sat huddled in his chair, utterly oblivious to it all. But he was also as steaming and as tensed as the weather outside. His small eyes were now even smaller, being dwarfed by the frown crowning his forehead. His hands were waiting, expectant, sensing the trigger that would spark off the neurons and get the fingers moving. He expected that trigger to come anytime soon, and like a true fighter he was totally prepared for it. And this was just not another duel that he had to face on a daily basis as a part of his existence, but rather a duel that would hurt more if he was victorious. It wasn't physical (that would be unkind to the opponent), certainly not the high-decibel verbal kind (as most of these duels are,the ready example being a recent one he had witnessed or rather heard from his neighbors) but instead, it was being fought in a virtual domain via the bearnet!! So Mr.Bear readied his fingers to counter his opponent sitting million miles away – Miss Bear, his sweetheart!
It had been a tough week and a particularly tough couple of months for Mr.Bear. He had shifted to a bigger home, which brought changes-some pleasant and some not so pleasant. The honey-digging work had become tough with increasingly aggressive bees which took longer to counter. Free time had therefore become a luxury. The harder work unfortunately yielded no pay as the treasure-keeper of the kingdom had lost the key which Mr.Bear needed to access his trove. The seemingly simple work of replacing the key was taking unexpectedly long. Mr.Bear had never been in debt and he didn't like the new situation. But another situation that he had never ever liked was any form of spats with Miss Bear. Soft-spoken and mild-mannered, Miss Bear rarely instigated or indulged in one, but this had been a hard month of work for her too. Much to her dismay, Mr.Bear also had done something that he had never done in the last four years (even though they had become separated by cities and then by continents)- the act of calling and waking her up in the morning!! It was a routine that had been followed religiously for all these years, not out of necessity but simple love and affection and to break it during worst of the times was almost criminal.
When the preliminary bickering and sarcasm filled sentences had been done with, anger seemed to fill both of their veins. Every nasty uttering was met with a nastier repartee from the other end. The routine seemed to be going on and on. Miss Bear being bored by the monotone of it all, finally said something out of place merely out of boredom - “What plans for today?” The simple question would have been answered simply and courteously by Mr.Bear on any other day but this was just not any 'other' day. Even the little fly that was trying to catch a little whiff of the honey on Mr.Bear's hands, stopped in his flight to stare at the queerness of the exchange of words that were slowly filling the bearnet screen.
Mr.Bear (replying to the question): To dance
Miss Bear: Where?
Mr.Bear: On the floor
Miss Bear (borne out of necessity to reply to everything): Interesting
Mr.Bear (borne out of necessity to counter everything): Not at all
Miss Bear (curious for the ensuing answer): Then what else is interesting?
Mr.Bear: Dancing on a hot plate
Miss Bear: Why would anybody do that?
Mr.Bear (remembering last seen movie titled 'Gone Bear Gone') : Dare Baby Dare
Miss Bear: What is that?
Mr.Bear (remembering a TV show): Sequel to Who dares wins
Miss Bear: Haven't had lunch?
Mr.Bear (confused by the question): Yes, why?
Miss Bear: Your brain is getting low glucose!
Mr.Bear: Might be, haven’t had dinner too.
Miss Bear paused for a moment, the snappy words that had been borne out of anger had failed to pass the vocal chords. It wasn't the realization that her words could not be heard and therefore the effort was futile, instead there was a different reason. Something was preventing the sound waves to pass through. Miss Bear soon realized that harshness of the waves had been countered by the fluidity of her buttery heart that had just melted a little. It was late afternoon for Mr.Bear and he hadn't eaten anything for long and the fact concerned her immensely. The lack of actual talking had it's advantages now as the typed words could hide the gentleness that would appear in her spoken words. So she simply stated that Mr.Bear should go ahead and have something, as she didn't consider fighting a hungry opponent noble. Mr.Bear knew that no matter how gentle Miss Bear was, she never would cower down so easy. For the first time in the day he smiled, perfectly understanding the reason for Miss Bear's actions, and which she would not admit now.So he agreed to continue the duel for the next day and wished Miss Bear a good night.
But he knew he would have a tough time keeping his end of the deal. There was nothing to cook and the coin coffer had bare minimum shillings left. Not enough to pay the exorbitant amount the ferrets and the monkeys charged for delivering food. He sighed in silence, interspersed with buzzing of a fly and the growls of his stomach. As he closed the bearnet connection with the wish, Miss Bear wished him a good day in return. She neither spoke or punched in the words, as technically, they were still in midst of a duel. But just like Mr.Bear, she was fully aware that the battle had ended and she closed her eyes for a peaceful sleep. Mr.Bear was hungry, but also contented, as little by little joy 'filled' his body. Just then, he heard a tiny little sound caused by the ruffling of the grass that carpeted his floor. It was an envelope dropped in by the mail-pigeons. He hesitated to open it thinking it would be another bill that would lower his new found joy, but he opened it nevertheless. The contents made his hands shiver, his heart race and his legs shuffle. His eyes meanwhile twinkled- with the shine of the gold that adorned his new, freshly minted treasure key..it truly had been a good fight!!