Once upon a time, nestled in one of our few remaining great forests, a family of bears lived in a secluded little house they had fondly nicknamed Home Unsweetened Home.
Mama Bear was a huge, hefty bear, though she personally preferred the term “curvy". Her size in no way detracted from her fantastic beauty, and her ultra feminine appearance and lustrous, shiny fur were often met with clucks of approval from other animals in the neighbourhood.
Papa Bear was medium sized, or more specifically: he was tall and very wiry. His athletic build was, at his age, a thing of envy amongst his peers, and a quality he attributed to strictly following a Blood Type A diet. Papa Bear tended to his physique like a meticulous gardener tends to her bush sculptures. He was always on top of the latest exercise trend, having mastered everything from Karate to Kayla (which is not just for Lady Bears).
Little Bear was young, and thus small, had lovely androgynous looks and was well-connected on various social platforms. Little Bear was incredibly clued up on social movements, particularly on the subject of gender fluidity. At Forest High, Little Bear had successfully campaigned for the addition of a pronoun choice in the school registration system. Creatures in forests across the globe read zirs blog on the subject, hoping to find guidance in zirs well-documented identification struggle. Still figuring out which pronoun the bear identified with most, Little Bear was currently settled on “ze”.
• • •
Mama Bear liked to eat overnight soaked oats for breakfast, and on this particular day, just like every other day, she smugly whipped the pre-prepared bowl of goodness out of the fridge and set about blitzing a kale, banana, avocado and almond milk smoothie in her NutriBullet.
Papa Bear was meticulously measuring his portions and beavering away at the stove. The family had just had their old fashioned gas hob replaced with induction plates and Papa Bear wasn’t so used to cooking with the new system yet. He groaned in dismay as he realised he had completed overheated his breakfast.
“Oh don’t worry”, said Mama Bear chirpily, peering into his steaming pot, “We’ll go for a family walk and when we get back it’ll have cooled down enough to eat”. She had just read somewhere that it was bad for you to eat cold food first thing in the morning and was perfectly happy to let her breakfast warm to room temperature whilst Papa Bear’s became palatable too.
“I hope I haven’t broken down too much of the protein in my food” muttered Papa Bear, as they grabbed their coats and filed out the front door, stopping on the garden path to wait for Little Bear to join them.
Since zirs breakfast didn't require any cooking, Little Bear had been watching the news on zirs tablet. Zirs food had been displayed perfectly and photographed from various angles. “Should I? Shouldn’t I?”, thought Little Bear to zirself, in response to the age old inner battle; to upload or not to upload? “Nah”, ze concluded, and started the step counter app on zirs phone instead, before joining zirs parents outside. The Bears strolled off into the forest.
• • •
A very short while later, by complete coincidence, a little girl chanced upon the house. The girl was called Goldilocks. Somehow unable to follow the blue dot on her Maps, her terrible navigation skills had got her very lost. She’d been walking for hours, had missed her brunch appointment completely and was absolutely ravenous. “Phew! I’ll ask for directions. Or maybe a snack...”, she thought, and sidled up the garden path to knock on the door. But the door hadn’t been shut properly and it gently swung open when she knocked, revealing a scene that looked like it had been beamed down from heaven. There on the kitchen table, basking in a combination of morning sunlight and perfectly positioned energy saving LEDs, were three bowls.
She stumbled over, mesmerised, and scrambled up onto Mama Bear’s elegant, pony skin chaise longue, in front of which stood the first and largest bowl of breakfast. It was a glorious serving of porridge decorated with edible flowers and served with a delicious looking smoothie. Unable to stop herself, Goldilocks picked up the spoon and scooped a big dollop into her mouth. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “It’s cold and sour!”, obviously not realising that the soaked oats had far higher levels of resistant starch than cooked ones would've had, that raw goats' milk contains far less lactose than cows' milk, and that the lack of unrefined sugar would ensure she had a great start to her day, devoid of any energy crashes. She gulped at the smoothie to get rid of the taste, but was unpleasantly surprised again: “It tastes of vegetables!” She slid off the chaise longue, which she had found mightily uncomfortable anyway, and focused on the next bowl of food.
This was a slightly smaller, more controlled portion, served in a bowl with divided sections. It was flanked by a funny looking drink that had separated into a dark liquid and a light one. Once she had managed to find her equilibrium on the balance ball chair in front of this bowl, she decided to try the drink first, and stirred it before taking a sip. “Woah!” she yelped, as she felt her heart immediately start palpitating more quickly. The strange, bitter drink was giving her all the feels, “Where’s all this anxiety coming from?!” she wondered, trying not to wobble on the big inflatable ball. She turned to the food, gingerly pricking some sausage from the first section, some greens from the second section and some curried quinoa from the third section onto a fork and chowing down on the big mouthful. "My mouth is on fire!” she squealed, and proceeded to employ that highly unattractive cooling technique we’ve all been guilty of, jutting out her jaw and blowing hot air out of her mouth whilst trying not to spit out the food. “Way too hot,” she gasped, as she put the fork back down.
She rolled off the ball and hopped onto the simple, foldable Ikea chair next to it. Her eyes rested on the final, third breakfast bowl, where they were met with a sorry sight. “What kind of breakfast is this?!” she thought, staring at the singular boiled egg and the meagre slice of ham on the Scandinavian glazed clay plate. She nibbled at the ham. “This charcuterie is lovely!”. She sliced through the egg and found the yoke to be semi-runny, exactly how she liked it. "This egg is just right!" She ate it in two big bites. By this point her stomach was starting to churn and she realised she needed a lie down.
For the first time since she had entered the house, her eyes left the table and scanned the room she was in. She was sitting in an open plan kitchen that looked out over a cosy living room, stylishly decorated in a mishmash of modern and vintage decor. She saw a floating staircase in the corner and figured the bedrooms must be upstairs. As she got up to head towards the staircase, she lurched to a halt. "Oh no! I think I need the toilet!" She stumbled through the nearest door she could see, finding herself in a corridor with more closed doors. She tried the first: a utilities room. The second: some sort of man cave with various gym apparatus. The third: a toilet. Hallelujah. She nipped into the room, splashed some water on her face and frantically tried to remember how to do yoga breathing.
• • •
Unbeknownst to Goldilocks, the Bears had arrived back from their walk. They had just sidled up the garden path to find the kitchen door completely open.
“Who forgot to turn the alarm on?” Mama Bear whispered accusingly, as they tip-toed into the house to see if the intruders were still there.
“Who left the door open??” countered Papa Bear, deducing from the undamaged doorframe that no one had forced their way in.
“Who’s been at our breakfasts??” cried Little Bear, now standing by the kitchen table.
“Maybe it was a vagrant”, Mama Bear said.
“It must’ve been some kind of animal”, Papa Bear said.
“Whoever it is, they’re still here!”, Little Bear said. Goldilocks had just flushed the toilet.
Grabbing whatever they could to defend themselves, the Bears made an unspoken collective decision to confront whoever was in their home. Mama Bear had grabbed a rolling pin, Papa Bear a 5kg dumbell and Little Bear the Facebook Live function on his phone.
They stormed into the corridor, where Goldilocks froze as she was coming out of the toilet.
A moment of silence, before a flood of verbal diarrhoea: "Oh. Um, hi. I’m so embarrassed! I was really lost, I couldn’t get my maps to work properly, and I just thought I’d ask for directions and then the door swung open and I just don’t know what came over me because I was so hungry, I was meant to meet the girls for brunch hours ago, and I did a workout this morning, and I was desperate for food and then I saw your breakfasts and, well, I just helped myself - but i didn’t eat much of it. I’m really sorry.”
The Bears glanced at each other, still trying to process the ridiculousness of the situation. They burst into laughter.
"I think you need to breathe", smiled Mama Bear, lowering her rolling pin and moving over to pat Goldilocks on the shoulder. She was the hostess with the mostest, and this unexpected occasion was not going to throw her off her much deserved pedestal.
"You probably should’ve laid off the bulletproof coffee", said papa bear with a chuckle. “Here, sit down". He led her into the living room and showed her to a crushed pink velvet sofa.
"This is so jokes. Just so you know, you're live right now”, said Little Bear, grinning.
“Nooooo!” Goldilocks pouted and laughed as she turned to the camera, “I'm so embarrassed! Hi guys!” She turned back to the Bears. “My stomach is doing somersaults. I don't think I can handle your breakfasts".
“Oh. Do you not feel well?", asked Mama Bear earnestly. "Maybe you have food intolerances you don’t know about. Have you tried Ayurveda?”
“You should try Paleo combined with regular HIT and yoga”, said Papa Bear, his eyes lighting up with enthusiasm. “Really works for me".
“You probably just wanted waffles and bacon, and look where you wound up”, laughed Little Bear, “I’m on the 5/2 diet and today is a fast day. Bad luck babe”.
“Oh”, Goldilocks hung her head in shame but giggled at the same time. “Thanks for being so nice about it. I’m really embarrassed. Do you think you could give me directions so I can get home?”
The Bears were happy to oblige and sent her on her merry way, but not before Mama Bear had given her some raw nut bars for the road (“It’s great for your hair”), Papa Bear had written down the details for a pilates studio in town (“It’s great for your core”) and Little Bear had added Goldilocks on various social media platforms (“It’s great to meet you”).
Once Goldilocks had waddled all the way back to her house, clutching her bloated stomach, she accepted Little Bear’s Requests and realised she’d become a viral sensation on zirs Facebook profile. Animals both human and furry thought Little Bear’s broadcast was completely hilarious, and her soliloquy had won the internet. “Wow, look how popular ze’s made me”, she thought gratefully.
Although the Bears never saw her again in RL, it was the start of many years of mutual Likes and encouraging Comments.