The Easter Bunny wasn’t used to being upside down. In the air, yes. His “hops” usually were closer to flying, much like Superman in the original Action comics. But not hanging upside down.
And that’s what he was doing, hanging upside down. The ground was below him. The basket was there, too, toppled over and spilling with sweets, wrapped in delicate pinks and blues. A chocolate bunny had fallen out of its wrapper and was now propped up against a daffodil, its white candied eye seeming to stare at the Easter Bunny. He felt a twinge of shame.
To avert his gaze, he looked up at the sky, craning his neck. Though he kept swinging back and forth, he could just make out that his hind paw, the one with which he usually lifts off, was caught in a rope. A snare. He recognized it from a book he read years ago. His predecessor at this post, who had worked here when hunting was more popular, had warned him about snares. He still watched out for them in the woods, but not here in the suburbs. Who would set a snare in the suburbs?
He heard a young girl clearing her throat. He knew right away that she was annoyed. Having spent years sneaking into houses with children, the Easter Bunny had gotten very good at distinguishing the sounds small children make with their throats, to determine their awakeness. You weren’t supposed to be seen. It was like the first rule of Fight Club, only more important. He had a nearly overwhelming urge to put his paws before his face.
Instead he swung his neck around and located the girl. She was standing at the edge of the clearing, and he couldn’t tell if she were cocking her head at him or if it was just his angle. He put on his most Easter Bunny-ish smile, but her mouth stayed in a pursed line.
“We need to talk,” she said, as she approached him. Her yellow Easter dress had a few grass stains on it; it had been obvious that she had been crouched down. She had been waiting for him.
“Uh-huh,” he said, for lack of anything better. He wished he could call her by her name, to disarm her, but he didn’t have access to Santa’s database of naughty and nice lists. It was proprietary and Kris Kringle didn’t share.
She now stood close, but, he noticed, not so close that he could reach her. “It’s about these,” she said, motioning to the pile of candy on the ground.
“Do you…want one?” he asked hopefully.
“I have Type 1 diabetes,” she said. “Do you know what that is?”
He had a dim memory of seeing a brochure about it once, but he scrunched up his pink nose and shook his head.
“My pancreas doesn’t work. It’s somewhere in here,” she said and pointed vaguely at her belly. “It means that when I eat too many sweets, it’s not good. I can get sick.”
The Easter Bunny felt a bit of a prickly sensation, as if he were coming down with an infestation with fleas. “That sounds tough,” he said, nodding sympathetically. The effort made his neck ache.
“You leave sweets,” she said. “It’s always sweets.”
The Easter Bunny looked down at the contents of his basket, scattered on the ground. The Peeps weren’t too sweet if you had them with milk. He thought there was an egg of dark chocolate somewhere. He looked hopefully down at the little girl again, but he could tell by the way her jaw was set that this wasn’t going to cut it.
“I’ve been noticing that,” he said slowly. “That’s an issue.”
“I feel left out during sweets holidays. How are you going to fix it?”
The Easter Bunny tried to wrack his brain but the blood was rushing to his head. There had been a subcommittee meeting recently on fair-trade chocolate. And wasn’t there a group of old timers who talked about the days before mass confectionery? Yes! What had they given?
“Eggs,” he said.
“No good,” she shook her head. “Creme filling?”
“No, I mean eggs,” he said. “Real ones. With pretty designs. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”
He now remembered that the old timers sometimes slipped their decorated eggs into the baskets of the bunnies going out, like a brochure for a car wash you find stuck to a windshield. He squinted his pink eyes at the pile of eggs and motioned with a paw. The little girl looked at him skeptically, but after a moment she slowly began to rummage through the candy pile.
For a moment, all the Easter Bunny could hear was the soft rustling of wrappers and the birds chirping derisively in the early morning light. Then, to his relief, his large floppy ears detected an audible gasp. The little girl held up to the sunlight a purple and blue egg with tiny line drawings of carrots and stars. The bunny breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn’t cracked from the fall.
Still staring at the egg, the little girl unraveled a coil of rope knotted on a nearby tree. A moment later, the Easter Bunny came down with a thump. He looked up and still felt a twinge of joy when he saw his would-be captor had a wide smile across her face.
She noticed him staring and her smile dimmed. “More like this, please.”
He nodded and sat up as she wandered away, carefully cradling the egg in her hands. This was one Easter Bunny who would be attending more steering committee meetings in the year to come. Maybe the old timers had some good ideas after all.
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