“Climb inside my mouth, young one,” the Old Bear said.
The boy peered into the Old Bear’s mouth. Her tongue was as big as a big wet bed. Her teeth were like traffic cones. Some were missing. The boy then asked her, “How do I know you won’t just swallow me up, Old Bear?”
“How do you know I will?” laughed the Old Bear. She had a point, but Jamie didn’t trust her, not quite. Jamie was the name of the boy, you see. The Old Bear had no name.
“I suppose I don’t, Old Bear,” Jamie said, examining the Old Bear’s lips—black like a dog’s, and thick as his arm—and feeling the hot air rolling out of her. “I suppose I don’t. But you’re certainly capable of it, aren’t you? You could swallow me up and not even blink an eye!” Her eyes were each as large as his head, but piggy-small for her size. They watched him start to draw away.
“If I wanted to swallow you up, young one, why wouldn’t I just catch you the old fashioned way?”
He thought about this. She was right; if he tried to run, she could catch him, claw him, and scarf him down like a strawberry-blonde sandwich. He looked over his shoulder at the path as he imagined the scenario. Mouth still gaping, the Old Bear smiled, as if reading his mind.
“That’s right, young one. Now, why not climb inside Old Bear’s mouth, then, eh? Don’t be afraid, young one. Why should Old Bear go and swallow you up so?”
Jamie thought hard. Think, Jamie, think! Birds were singing overhead, and the sun was shining through the branches. The Old Bear flicked her ears impatiently.
“Alright, Old Bear. I will climb into your old wet mouth on One Condition!”
He had a plan.