• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 06
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Bear followed Barney wherever he went. No one could see Bear, and Bear didn’t speak, but Barney knew he was there.

Bear was his friend. His only friend.

‘I like talking to you, Bear,’ Barney said over his shoulder – he didn’t need to turn around to check Bear was there; Bear was always there – ‘and I know I haven’t got anything very interesting to say, but you don’t mind, do you?’

Barney knew that Bear didn’t mind. His presence was big and warm, and that was enough for Barney. It was a ‘positive thing’.

Miss Bradley had reminded Barney that there were lots of positive things to celebrate, every day and everywhere. He only had to look. Or listen. Or feel. She told him that his smile was a positive thing for one. She loved to see it, and she would really, really like to see it more often.

Barney tried a big smile for Miss Bradley, to please her. It hurt a little bit, but it made her happy.

Bear put a big paw on his shoulder to tell him how proud he was.

Miss Bradley told the class that over the weekend she would like them to start collecting ‘interesting specimens’ for the Nature Table, so Saturday morning, Barney and Bear climbed through the fence at the bottom of the garden.

A little boy of about Barney’s age was peering into the bushes through a magnifying glass. Barney felt shy, but Bear’s hand was on his back, gently guiding him in the boy’s direction. Barney gave his biggest smile.

‘Hi,’ said the boy, his eyes twinkling. ‘I’m Reuben. Want to see a giant ladybird?’ He handed the magnifying glass to Barney and leaned in so close that their heads touched as they looked through together.



And, just like that, Barney had made a friend.

The boys spent an hour checking for bugs under leaves and parting grass. They made bark rubbings, collected acorns, pinecones and conkers, and sat cross-legged sketching minibeasts.

In fact, Barney forgot all about Bear … for the first time ever.

In fact, if he had looked over his shoulder, Bear wouldn’t have been there. Having checked that Barney had indeed made a real friend, he’d slunk off into the woods to do the sorts of things that all imaginary bears do.

All positive, of course.