You're No Bunny Until Some Bunny Loves You

Ann Stolfa

 

 

Children are the sum of what mothers contribute to their lives.
--Unknown

 

 

Maureen Heyes bit back a giggle as she left another piece of candy on Hannibal’s pillow.  She knew it had been driving him crazy all week trying to figure out where the candy had come from.  Her sister-in-law, Bridget Curry, had been doing the same thing to young Jed.  It had been a hard winter and both women were determined to bring some fun back into their sons’ lives now that spring was finally here. 

 

She snuck down out of the loft where Han slept and went back to fixing breakfast like nothing was out of the ordinary.  She whistled softly, pleased with herself.  She loved practical jokes, and Han had inherited her playful spirit, so they were always pulling tricks back and forth on each other, all in good fun of course.  She knew her clever son would come up with something to get her back soon, so she enjoyed her victory while she could. 

 

Her husband walked in, saw the mischievous look on her face and sighed good-naturedly.

 

“Are you still stringing that poor boy along?  Maureen, you should be ashamed!”  The grin on his face told her he was enjoying the joke as much as she was.

 

“Ah David, it gets harder and harder to fool him the older he gets.  He’s a clever one, our Hannibal.”  She quickly turned back to the griddle cakes on the stove as she heard Han stirring upstairs.

 

“Ma!  Ma it happened again!”  Hannibal raced down the stairs.  “How does that rabbit get up there without me hearing it??” 

 

Maureen bit back a smile as she turned from the stove.  “Easter bunnies are just clever that way.  I don’t think you’ll ever catch him in the act son.  Sit down to breakfast now.”  She shot a glare at her husband who was snickering behind the newspaper he was reading.

 

“Oh yeah, I gotta hurry.  I’m meetin’ Jed to do some fishin’ this morning.”   Han wolfed down his breakfast and raced out the door, the Easter bunny problem forgotten for the moment.

 

Han and Jed sat along the riverbank a few hours later.  Jed munched on the cookie he had found on his pillow that morning and watched Han think.  Even as young as he was, Jed could always tell when Han was hatching up a plan.

 

“I just gotta’ find a way to catch that Easter bunny, Jed.  How smart can he be, he’s just a dumb olrabbit.  Han had a look of intense concentration on his face.

 

“But Han, if you catch the Easter bunny, he ain’t gonna’ leave us no more candy and stuff.”  Jed answered him around a mouthful of cookie.

 

Hannibal rolled his eyes at his cousin.  “But if we catch him, we’ll get all the candy and cookies.”  He suddenly sat up straight.  “I’ve got it!”

 

“Got what?”  Jed backed away.  He remembered the last time Han had said he got something; that turned out to be the chicken pox and Jed had ended up itchy and uncomfortable right along with him.

 

“How to catch the rabbit.”  Jed sighed in relief.  “Remember that story Grandpa told us about Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox the Tar Baby?”

 

“Yeah, so?” 

 

“Well, Brer Fox caught that rabbit with a tar baby, so why couldn’t we catch this rabbit that way?”  Hannibal looked very pleased with himself.

 

“But Han, we ain’t got a tar baby.” 

 

“No, but my Pa has some tar left over from when he did the barn roof, I’ll bet we could make one.  C’mon!”  Han grabbed his hand and started pulling Jed towards the barn.

 

Maureen went to call Han to the dinner table.  He’d been awfully quiet all afternoon, mostly playing in the barn with Jed.  She realized he’d spent an extra long time washing up on the porch since she’d called him in from playing.

 

“Han, what in the world is taking you so long boy?”  She was even more suspicious when he and Jed both put their hands behind their backs as she stepped out.

 

“Just washin’ up Ma.  We wanted to be extra clean for dinner.  Oh, can Jed spend the night?  We already asked Aunt Bridget.”

 

“Well, I suppose that would be alright.  You boys finish washing up now, dinner is getting cold.”  She stepped back into the house and sat down at the table.  “Mark my words, David, those boys are up to something.”  He just shook his head and grinned.

 

“No doubt about that love, we’ll find out what it is sooner or later, we always do.”  He gave her a wink as Han and Jed slipped in and joined them at the table.  The boys ate quickly and ran upstairs to where Han slept.

 

A lot of moving around and thumping was heard from the loft, followed by total silence at bedtime.  Well, mostly silent anyway; an occasional giggle and “Shh Jed!” could be heard.  Maureen waited until she was sure the boys were asleep just like she had every night for the past week, then she snuck quietly up the stairs.  She set the small candle she was carrying down on the nightstand and turned to Hannibal’s bed to lay some cookies down on his pillow.

 

“Now that doesn’t seem right.”  She thought to herself.  “And is that my good brown yarn?”  She reached out to touch the lump on the bed and found her hand in a mess of sticky goo.

 

“What in the world?” She tried to pull her hand out and soon found her other hand stuck.  As she struggled with the mess, two forms popped out from the other side of the bed holding a blanket between them.

 

“Now Jed!  We got him!  We got him!”  Han and Jed danced around the bundle yelling.

 

Hannibal Heyes!! What do you think you are doing?!  Let me up this minute!”


The boys stopped, frozen.  Jed tugged on Han’s shirt.  “Uh Han?  I don’t think that’s the Easter bunny.” 

 

Hannibal had gone white as a sheet.  “Ma, is that you?”

 

“Of course it’s me!  What is this all over my good sheets?”

 

“Uh, well, it’s tar.  You see, we were trying to catch the Easter bunny like Brer Fox caught Brer Rabbit with the tar baby and…”  The words tumbled out all at once as he tried to explain.  He was cut short as his mother finally made her way out from under the blanket, covered in tar.

 

“I don’t want to know about Brer Rabbit!   Look at this mess, do you know how much trouble you’re in?” 

 

“Now Maureen, don’t you think you’re a little responsible for some of this too?”  David stood at the top of the loft stairs, trying to contain his laughter.

 

“Me??  And what are you thinking is so funny?!”

 

“Well, you did sort of start this, and you do look kind of funny with that tar stuck on your face.”  He flashed her his dimpled grin that always managed to disarm her famous Irish temper.

 

She thought for a moment and sighed.  “I guess you’re right; I can’t be too mad at them, now can I?”  She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror over Hannibal’s dresser.  “Oh my, I do look like a harpy, now don’t I?”  She started giggling until she caught sight of Han’s and Jed’s faces.  Han was still pale and Jed had a big tear running down his cheek.  She immediately felt bad for scaring them.

 

“Oh boys, it’s ok.  I just kind of got caught up in my own practical joke.  I’m not mad at you.”  She held out her arms to give them both a big hug, but neither one moved to accept it.

 

“Uh Ma? You still have tar all over your hands.”   Han said, backing away.

 

“Why, you’re right, I do.  All the better to give you a big hug!”  They both screamed with laughter as she started chasing them, pretending like she was going to smear tar all over them.   David followed them down the stairs, shaking his head at the silliness, and wondering if the Easter bunny might just have left a few of those cookies in the kitchen for him.