Saving April fools

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        This day began like all the others: my alarm clock didn’t ring at 7 o’clock, but more like never; my dad was rushing to get prepared for work; my mom was rushing to make lunch for me at school and was searching for my dad’s bag which he had lost again. By 8 o’clock, dad was ready -at last- and searching for his bag too while mom screamed “wake up” to me from the kitchen. Grumbling, I got out of bed and scrubbed my sleepy eyes. I looked at my alarm clock. Already 8:05?! I thought as I quickly opened my closet and put random clothes on myself. I sprinted to the kitchen, opened the fridge -but in my rush, it was more like springing it open- took the cereal box and some milk, dashed to the other side of the kitchen to get a bowl, and finally sat down at the table, panting as I put milk and cereal in the bowl. I hurriedly ate my breakfast, darted to the bathroom to brush my teeth, and once all that was done I grabbed my backpack, kissed mom and dad goodbye – who were still searching for the bag- as they wished me a good day at school. I verified that my lunch was in my backpack, and raced onto the trail that would lead me to my school.

 

        I hurried down the sidewalk, seeing my school and almost hearing the ringing bell. But as I began to run through a muddy shortcut, my foot hit a bump in the grass and I fell. I muttered some swears I’d heard my dad say when he’d had a bad day at work and stood up, trying to get rid of all the mud on my hands and clothes. All of a  sudden, my eyes were attracted to an unexpected movement in the grass. The bump that had made me fall had just moved! Getting a closer look at it, I realized that the bump was a ball of fur covered in mud. I froze when two long ears appeared on it and a yelp came out of the ball of fur. I slowly extended my hand towards it and lightly touched it. The yelps resumed with renewed vigor but a voice said along: 

        “I have to say, today’s children, they have no respect whatsoever!” This time the yelp came from me. 

“A talking ball!” I couldn’t help but cry out.

“A talking ball?!” the furry thing replied. “What a disrespecting young lady! I must say, I am very disappointed and my urge to hide easter eggs everywhere for children is gone!” My eyes went wider and wider with every word.

“You’re the Easter bunny!” I exclaimed.

“Why, of course I am, who else could I be if not the Easter bunny?”

“Oh, I’m so sorry for tripping over you, I didn’t know you were there! Are you hurt?” I asked.

“Let me check,” the bunny grumbled. What I had taken for a ball of fur sat up and tried skipping. 

“Ouch!” He yelped with a grimace of pain. I started panicking.

“Oh no! If you’re hurt, you won’t be able to distribute easter eggs, and April fools is tomorrow! What have I done?” I whined.

“Don’t start panicking and be useful, will you?” Said the Easter bunny. “Get me a big leaf in which I can wrap my injured leg while I think of a solution.”

“Yes, Easter bunny!” I said, relieved to be able to do something useful. I started searching for a huge leaf and found one a few feet away. Running back to the rabbit, I realized that I wasn’t supposed to meet the Easter bunny. No one was. Bunny and I were alone on this quest.

        “Is it ok if I call you Bunny?” I asked as the rabbit wrapped the leaf around his leg.

“Sure,” the rabbit grumbled. We fell silent for the next few minutes, my gaze fixed on the school, my throat tightening. I had missed school. 

        Another few minutes passed before Bunny said:
        “Of course, you could pass the easter eggs instead of me, but you can’t hide as well as me.”

“I can hide pretty well, though,” I replied. And it was true, given that I spent my days hiding from everybody, at school and in the streets. Why? I didn’t want everybody to stare at me like they usually did: my huge and thick red hair was the reason people gazed at me along with my freckles that contrasted with my pale skin. On the first day of school here in Saint William, 1 year ago, I entered the 5th-grade classroom. But as soon as I did, people started staring at me and whisper things, and the mean ones started laughing. That’s when I decided to start my career as a hider. The truth was, I missed my old school in New Orlands, I missed my big old house, I missed my friends, and I missed how in New Orlands my parents had time for me. Their jobs were much less time-taking, but then we had to move here because of my dad’s job. He got a new one, which gave us more money, but less time to spend together. Back in New Orlands, nobody laughed at me or stared at me. Everything was perfect. Suddenly, Bunny interrupted my thoughts:

        “So, you wanna do the job?” I didn’t hesitate. After all, it was every child in Saint William I was going to make happy. It didn’t matter how much they were mean to me, I was definitively not going to end up like them.

        “…I’ll do it.”

        By 9 pm, it was all dark, and that was the sign that I had to start giving the easter eggs. I closed my eyes to concentrate beyond my anxiety created by the thought that I hadn’t gone to school and the director would call my parents, who would panic when they learned it and would call the police when I didn’t come back home. I was going to need a firm excuse to explain my absence everywhere.

        “Okay, here goes,” Whispered Bunny. “Don’t forget to lay at least 5 eggs per house.”

“Right,” I replied, breathing hard.

“Oh, and Susan?” Bunny said. I turned around and looked at him.

“Thank you.”

I forced a smile at the rabbit that had become a friend -the first one I ever had in Saint William- and mastering my pressure, My bag full of easter eggs, I ran to the first house I saw.

        Crawling behind the plants of the house, I took a handful of easter eggs and scattered them all over the garden. Next house, I thought, pretty proud of myself. By midnight, I had done half of the houses of the village, and I met Bunny at the barn where we had said I’d take a break.

        “You’re doing a great job,” Bunny admitted once we were hidden in the barn.

“Thanks,” I replied happily. All the tension in my brain was gone, swooshed away by the happiness of giving easter eggs to everybody. One thing wasn’t perfect, though: I was starting to get very sleepy, and my eyes would close by themselves if I didn’t keep them open.

        “Your leg feeling any better?” I asked the rabbit.

“I have to admit, I think my leg is heeling. I even will be able to help you in a few hours.”

“Wow, your body heels very fast, ” I observed, relieved by the thought that I was going to get help. Despite my urge to finish this mission all by myself, I needed another person to help me with the task. Above all, I was falling asleep.

“Yes, it’s part of the magic of Easter,” Bunny replied. I smiled as I got up and got ready to continue my mission.

“I still don’t understand something, though,” I said. Bunny looked up at me with an inquisitive expression. 

“Go on.”

“If you give easter eggs to Saint William every year, who gives easter eggs everywhere else?” I asked.

“Why, other Easter bunnies, of course!” Bunny replied. My eyes widened at the thought of thousands of Easter bunnies.

        The sun was rising when Bunny and I finally finished distributing easter eggs in every single domicile of Saint William.

“Well, I guess that’s it, then,” I said, trying to sound casual. In reality, my throat was going tight again, and not because I would have to explain my absence to my parents. Well, mostly. I never thought I would, but I was going to miss the grumpy rabbit. In fact, I didn’t think I could even stand the thought of my only friend leaving to go back to his family. 

“I will never forget you, Susan,” Said Bunny. “Neither will I forget your honorable act to save April fools day.” Tears sprinkled in my eyes and I waved at the rabbit as he skipped away from me. He muttered something that sounded much like “Children these days”. My lips stretched into a long smile and I walked back to my home, not even bothering to hide.

        “Susan!” My mom exclaimed when she saw me at the doorway.

“We were so worried about you!” My dad came running to hug me. Tears were rolling down both their cheeks. Suddenly, I felt mine covered in tears too. 

“I’m sorry,” I cried. My parents still cared about me, even in this town, even if they spent less time with me.

“I won’t do it again. It’s just… I miss New Orlands.”

“Oh, sweetie.” My dad said.

“We didn’t know. You should’ve told us,” Mom said, kissing my front head.

“I know. I’m sorry.” I repeated.

“Don’t be,” Dad whispered. My parents hugged me even harder.

        

        One month later, I was playing with my parents on the weekends. My dad had managed to get his Saturdays and Sundays free. At school, I had a new friend called Penelope. Turned out, she wanted to be friends with me since the beginning of the year but was too shy for it. I didn’t hide everywhere I went anymore because I didn’t care what people thought of me. Everything was perfect again.

        

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