The boy looks at the bear, all hard ice and sharp edges, dripping frost and evaporating slowly in the spring thaw. He thought it would be bigger somehow, as big as a car and with paws the size of his head.
The bear looks at the boy and sees his first feed after the long hibernation. It can smell the boy’s warm blood. Any day now and the ice will have melted and it will be time to leave his winter home.
The boy rubs his hand across the smooth, chiselled ice for as long as he can bear the cold. He looks at his hand and can feel the cold inside his fingers but he can’t feel his fingers due to the numbness. He thinks about licking the bear, wonders what it tastes like.
The bear licks his lips. He can smell the spring, the warmth and the end of his prolonged slumber. His first meal is close; he can hear it through the ice. He’ll have to be patient and still so as not to spook his quarry. He’s an apex predator, top of the food chain, he’ll eat what he goddamn likes.
In his school uniform and scuffed shoes, the boy is invisible in the natural surroundings of the concrete and litter. The bear exudes majesty in his white coat. In his natural surroundings he’d be camouflaged from everyone but here his fleece is a magnet for the curious.
As the ice melts away, the bear’s majestic form is revealed through a slow striptease of drips. The exposed skeleton shows the power in his paws and the violence in his jaw. The skeletal bear has a boy-sized hunger in his stomach but no energy to move. This will be his last spring.
Now the ice has melted, the bear’s novelty has worn off and the crowds have gone. His glory spent, he is retired to the museum to be dusted by cleaners and prodded by school children.