On the Island of Misfits, Artie waits. As a teddy bear toy, no one wanted him, and he yearns for love and his forever home. When finally taken back to the human world, Artie doesn't find a child waiting to claim him. Instead he has a life he never dreamed of : and a niece to care for as Christmas fast approaches.
He's given an opportunity for love but only has until Christmas. If he fails, he'll lose not only the memories of his past life, but the chance to be united with his soul mate.
In a magical antique shop, Artie finds the man of his dreams. With time running out can Artie not just have his own happy ever after but save the shop from the owner's unscrupulous nephew.
His feet dangling in the river, Artie leant against the thick tree trunk and gazed around. The sky was a perfect shade of blue, with the odd fluffy, white cloud sailing by. The river gurgled merrily on its way to the sea, at the perfect temperature for paddling, swimming, just about anything Artie could wish for.
A brightly colored bird flew overhead. The trees and bushes around him meant his little patch was shaded, and Artie enjoyed watching the birds flying overhead. Those, and the butterflies that danced around the rich array of flowers. Another day in paradise.
Except it wasn't.
For all its surface beauty, the Isle of Misfits was a lonely place. Oh, Artie had company, and he liked the others that shared the island with him. But like him, they'd all started their lives as toys, intended to be with a child. But none of them had ever got that far.
In a human world where perfection was the ever-strived for, rarely achieved dream, a toy that was anything less than perfection was instantly rejected. Artie shuddered, not wanting to think about those toys that Chris, the name Santa preferred, or Jack Frost, didn't save and bring to the island.
Jack had once told Artie that some toys had a special spark that ensured he or Chris could find and rescue them. Although Artie had seen others come and go, he remained. Artie couldn't imagine for the life of him what kind of a spark he had. It certainly didn't make him appeal to a child, girl or boy.
In his toy form, Artie wasn't what the modern child seemed to want anymore. He wasn't mechanical, didn't transform into anything spectacular, wasn't brightly colored, or particularly squishy. Just an old-fashioned teddy bear. The type that belongs to another era, one long-since gone.
In his toy form, Artie was a small, plump bear with tight, reddish fur, and solid-jointed arms and legs and was no competition for the bigger, cuddlier, more brightly colored varieties that children wanted in a soft toy. There was no way for Artie to know just how long he'd been on the island. It existed outside of time, according to Jack. A bit like living in a snow globe, he'd said.
"If that's the case, then I wish someone would give it a good shake." Artie spoke out loud, just to hear his voice.
"You like it here, don't you? I guess it is a nice place to sit and relax." A feminine voice broke the silence and Artie looked around.
Margot limped toward him. The blond doll's right leg was just a fraction shorter than her left, and she waved when she saw Artie look over toward her.
"Hi. Yes, I like it here." Artie returned Margot's wave. "Although I do occasionally venture over to walk along the beach now and then."
"You don't meet up with the rest of us very often." Margot sat on a log. "Don't you get lonely?"
"No offence meant." Artie smiled at Margot and shrugged his left shoulder. "But I'd feel just as lonely if there were a dozen others around me. I want so much to be loved, held, cuddled, all the things that go with being a teddy bear."
"Don't forget, Jack says that we're here because there's a spark in us. That we're fated for something very special."
"I can't imagine what it can be in my case. Every child that saw me walked past to something softer, brighter, or mechanical. I'm a true misfit."
"We're all the same here, Artie. There's no need to be a martyr. I'll leave you to it. There's a few of us at the beach, we're just sitting, enjoying the view and some company. But if you want to mope out here all alone, then that's up to you."
The words stung, but before Artie could reply, Margot had already walked away. Artie sighed. She was right, of course. They were all in the same boat. He was no worse off than any of the others on the island.
Pulling his feet from the water, Artie slowly stood. I've been behaving like a bear with a sore paw. Pardon the pun. Everyone here feels they're a misfit. I should make the effort to mix with the others more often.
When Artie started to walk along the beach, a couple looked up and stared, nudging one another in the ribs, and shaking their heads. Artie didn't even recognize them. He guessed they must be new to the island. Has it really been that long since I came and mixed with the others?
"Long time, no see, Artie." Matt, one of those Artie did recognize gave him a lazy wave. "Come and chill a while."
"I didn't realize how long it's been." Artie joined a large group sitting on the sand, close to the ocean. With the exotic foliage behind them, and the gentle lapping of the waves against the shore, it was as calm and beautiful as Artie's preferred forestry niche.
"Yep. A couple have come, and a few have gone. Not many of us old-timers left now." Matt tapped his chest. "Hopefully our time is soon."
"I didn't even know some had gone." Artie stared at Matt. "When?"
"Recently." Matt shrugged. "You know time has no meaning here. But Jack was confident another couple of us would be leaving soon."
Even though he'd heard the words before and was still on the island, Artie felt a frisson of excitement skitter down his spine.
"He did? That's good to know. He doesn't get our hopes up for no good reason."
"True." Matt nodded. "It's good to see you. Nobody should feel there's no one they can turn to, or that they're unlovable."
"No," Artie murmured softly, ashamed at his selfishness. "They shouldn't. You always make sure the newcomers get a welcome."
"Someone needs to let them know they're loved and special." Matt smiled at Artie. "I was welcomed when I arrived, feeling as if nobody wanted me. As were you. I never want anyone to feel that way when they arrive here. Even if we have to wait a while, Jack says we're special. One day, we'll find out just why we were made special."
"You're right." Artie nodded. "I've felt so sorry for myself that I forgot we're all going through the same thing. I'll be better. I'll be here to welcome newcomers with you, Matt."
The smile from Matt gave Artie a warm feeling and he wished he'd not been so selfish in the past. Time for me to turn over a new leaf and stop being the grumpy bear living out in the woods. Matt's right. We're all the same here. At the very least, newcomers should feel loved and welcome on the island.
"Well done, Artie."
Although Artie heard the voice clearly, no one around him had spoken. Artie shook his head. Perhaps it was just the sound of the ocean on the shore. It's been a long time since I was last here. I'm probably just unused to the sounds it makes.
Artie put it from his mind. What was important now was focusing on the fact that those on the Island of Misfits were a family in their own right and making sure that all newcomers r