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The Long and Winding Road (Bear, Otter, and the Kid #4)
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Family is not always defined by blood. It’s defined by those who make us whole—those who make us who we are.
And here, at the end, Bear and Otter will be tested like they’ve never been before.
There’s a knock at the door from a little girl who has nowhere else to go.
There’s a phone ringing, bringing news they do not expect.
There’s a brother returning home after learning how to stand on his own.
As these moments converge, all of their lives will change forever.
Beginning in Bear, Otter, and the Kid, and continuing in Who We Are and The Art of Breathing, TJ Klune has told a saga of family and brotherhood, of love and sacrifice. In this final chapter, the events of the past pave the long and winding road toward a future no one could have imagined.
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Everything has to come to an end, sometime.
—L. Frank Baum
Prologue: Or, Where Bear Answers the Door
DO YOU remember how it all began?
This is the way my world ended.
I know this is going to be hard for yu to read, but I hope yull understand.
I have to leave, Bear. Tom got a job out of state and Im going with him. Im doing this becuz I think it will be easier on all of us if it is red rather then sed.
This is a chance for me to make something for myself. Tom sez there are a lot of jobs where we’re going which will be better then here in Seafare. Remember my last job? At the Pizza Shack? Remember how well that went? In case yu can’t tell from this just being a letter, I was being sarcastic. It didn’t go well at all. (At least we know my future is not in pizza!)
I know yu never liked Tom, but he treats me ok. Yu shoudnt worry about him and me, as we’ll be fine. Well, I know yu won’t worry about him, but still. Hes stuck around longer then yur father did, and don’t even get me started on Ty’s dad. At least Tom hasn’t hit me yet or anything. He even said that when I save up enouf money, he’ll let me get one of those online degrees from University of Phoenix Arizona, or whatever its called. Imagine me, with a college degree!
Speaking of that, I hope that yull get a chance to be a writer like yu want to. I know this kind of messes up yur plans about going to school next year, but why do u need college for that? Yuve been making up stories since you were a little kid n e ways so its not like they could teach yu anything else, right? But that skolarship thing will be there later, right? It’s not like yu could never get it again. It just cant be right now becuz I need yu to do something for me.
Tom sez that Ty can’t go. He sez that having the Kid around will just “freak” up his concentration. (Ok, he didn’t say freak, but yu know what I meant) I know this seems like I am making a bad decision but last nite I had a dream. It was all black around me and there was a flashing light really far away. I felt like I had to walk a long time to reach it. I finally got there and the light was a sign for a motel. Yu know what the motel was called, Bear? It was called the LAST CHANCE MOTEL. Do u see what that means? LAST CHANCE MOTEL. It means it’s my last chance! My dream was a message, I know it, and I think Whoever is watching over us knew I was having a tuff time making this decision and that’s why I had the dream.
But Tom does say that Ty can’t go. So I am going to leave him here with yu. Yu were always better at taking care of him then me. Remember when I was sick for like a month last year couldn’t move, and u took care of Ty becuz we couldn’t afford to send him to camp at the YMCA? Yu did a really good job then and I remember thinking yur going to be a good dad some day, not like yur dad. Now that I think about it, yu take care of Ty a lot more then I did anyways like a good brother should and yu were always better at it. That is why I feel ok about leaving him here with yu. I just think it would be better for him if he stayed here. What if something happens to me when Im with Tom? I don’t want him to see that.
I got sumthing I printed from the internet for yu. Its called a Power Of Attorney. It means that yu can do stuff for Ty without me. Like doctors and school and stuff. It means yull be in charge I guess. At least thats what I got from it. Denise from downstares told me about it. Yu would normaly have to be there with me to have it notterized, but Denise owes me for that time I gave her some smokes when she couldn’t afford to buy more. Her kid is a nottery public or something (do yu really have to go to school to learn how to sine and stamp papers? How hard can that be?) and she will cover for me and notterize it. Yull have to wait for yur birthday but thats real soon. Its my present to yu. I hope yu like it.
I am going to miss yu, so yu know. Yu grew up ok, despite everything. I hope yu don’t hate me or n e thing for this, but maybe Ill be back one day if this doesn’t work out. Maybe, I don’t know. Maybe, I was never meant to be a mom. I see yu sometimes and I think how much better it would have been for yu if yu were never born. But I remember yu as such a happy baby, not like Ty who cried all the time. Yur smile still makes it worth it and I hope yull still smile even after this.