A Bunny's Kidnapping
The Easter Bunny comes for the boy's sister in the still of night. He cracks open his door and sees their silhouettes moving through the hall, his sister slow and pretty, the Easter bunny, a dark bulging shadow in the night. He has taken the sister by the hand.
"You're good with this?" The Easter Bunny says. His voice is muffled, but gruff. It reminds the boy of Daddy a little bit, after he'd been drinking. Before he left the boy and his sister.
"He'll be better off without me," the sister says, slowly.
"And I'll be better off with you," the Easter Bunny laughs. "For God's sake, I dress up as an Easter bunny for money."
"That's better than this life," the sister says.
The boy wonders what she means by all this. Why is the Easter Bunny taking her? Doesn't he know the boy needs his sister?
"Your brother will be all right," the Easter Bunny says. "One way or another. I can't stick around this place any longer, you know? It's a dead-end town. I don't want small improvements, I want something big, something grand. I don't know what I want, but it's not this life."
"I'm sure he'll be all right," the sister says. "What can I teach him? I'm only seventeen. All I've done is look after this godawful house. This place is cursed."
"We covered that," the Easter Bunny says.
"What about my baby brother?" her voice is sad, lilting. Like Mama's once was.
"They'll take him to an orphanage," the Easter Bunny says. The boy doesn't want to go there. He's heard stories, about the kind of mean people who come in and order the boys and girls to turn around, while they look them up and down. They even beat them there.
He slides back into his room, under the covers. The boy thinks of his sister, the kindly, funny girl who read him bedtime stories and took him to school, especially after Daddy disappeared (his sister said he went on a "bender"). He thinks of the soothing scent of her funny cigarettes (she calls it "dope"), the way she told him everything would be fine after Daddy took off. He believed in her wholeheartedly, believed she held all the secrets to a frightening world, a world of menacing Russians and unhappy parents.
The boy doesn't know fully what's happening, only that the Easter Bunny has taken his sister. He wants to call the police, to even shoot the Easter Bunny. When Daddy disappeared he left his gun, and the boy thinks he can use it. He imagines being able to save his sister, the look of gratitude she'll wear, the thought of giving something back, after all she's given him. But he's frozen, trying to add it all up. Years from now, he will wish he had acted, wish he had saved his sister, but now he's seven and utterly alone.
"I just don't know," she says. "I should make sure he's all right. Would a few days make a difference?"
"We're going tonight," the Easter Bunny barks.
The boy's sister sighs, and he knows within his heart that she's gone. He hears their footsteps, the shuffling around, the arrangement of heavy things.
"Let's go," the Easter Bunny says, and they slide out the door. There's a silence that fills the house, a kind of nothingness. The boy looks out the window. The sister and the Easter Bunny are carrying two suitcases, moving toward a Chevy Bel-Air in the driveway. And in that moment, the sister looks up toward the boy's room. He doesn't know if she sees him or not, but he sees a kind of distant, sad look in her eyes. He wonders what she's thinking, if she still loves him, if she's imagining what to say to him.
A thought hits the boy. Does she love the Easter Bunny? Is she going because she wants to? Does his sister want to marry him? That thought fills him with a kind of inner sadness. Does she hate him? That thought washes over him, and he feels helpless, like the word doesn't want him. Mama didn't. Daddy didn't. And now his sister doesn't seem to either. He wonders why she hates him, why the world hates him, wonders what he can do.
They slide into the Easter Bunny's Chevy Bel-Air and pull away into the night. The car sputters, jazz spilling from the radio, and it fades, becoming smaller and smaller until it's disappeared entirely. Maybe the Easter Bunny has made them disappear, the boy thinks.
The boy stares out into the night. The moon, the smiling pretty moon has set, and stars flicker, almost sharply, like knives. Houses are all extinguished, bathed in a kind of foreboding darkness. The boy feels a sense of something being taken, a sense of emptiness, a sense of something frightening before him, and he wants to cry, but he knows it's no good. Crying is for no-good little boys, he thinks, inhaling deeply.
Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri currently attends Colorado State's MFA program, in fiction. His short-stories have been published or are forthcoming in various literary journals including Monkeybicycle and Crack The Spine.