Santa and his elves called shotgun on the North Pole. Sure, it was snowy (for now) but the camp was pretty fly. They had hot water, a warehouse full of powdered milk and cocoa, and the reindeers had hooves, which coped just fine with the snow. Everyone was happy to hole up there for most of the year, and just fly out come Christmas Eve. Jesus’ Birthday. Ho, ho, ho.
Not so for the Easter crew. They got the South Pole. The backseat, no, the boot of the deal. If the deal were an old delivery car.
Which it kind of was.
God’s delivery operation.
Ho, ho, ho…
Not so HO-HO-HO for the South Pole crew. The Easter Bunnies.
Their snowy warren was a bleak affair, with frequent cave-ins, and a nose nipping temperature. If they weren’t freezing their furry feet digging new tunnels, they were freezing their paws trying to tend to the chocolate eggs, so that the chocolate didn’t get frost burn or bloom.
It sucked. And so did Easter, when they got to march out in splintered brigades, and zap themselves from place to place, delivering chocolate to humankind.
Here you go. Jesus died. Jesus is risen. Have an egg.
An egg that is over-packaged in plastic. It’s a disaster. Our icy homes are melting, but never mind. Don’t worry your heads about that.
It was an awkward affair. But returning to the South Pole wasn’t exactly a party. So, one year, one of the bunnies decided to spin the bottle and let it land on staying behind, with the humans, in a cramped city, in the Midlands.
Her name was Lexie. She was one of the biggest bunnies. A six-footer. Plus ears. Blue as a summer’s sky, if you were referring to her fur. Dark and resentful as a storm cloud, if you were referring to her personality.
She spent the first week sleeping in an allotment, in various sheds, helping herself to the human’s early cropping crops. Spring onions and radishes. Crunchy. Acceptable. They worked with her lactose intolerant stomach, but still…
“I’m meant for more than this,” she muttered one dawn, stretching her furry blue rabbit arms high over her head. She looked up, and then back down quickly, not wanting to make eye contact with God if he was looking down. Would he smite her for this? Strike her down, like a deserter?
She glanced quickly back up. “I’m still going to work for your mission,” she said. “You’ll see.”
She rubbed her front paws together. There must be some other time in the Biblical calendar that could use a little input. A way to give herself a role?
Lexie had never read the Bible, but she knew that Jesus had a mother. Mary. She must have had a Birthday, and she must have died.
“I can work with that?” Lexie mumbled and tottered down the overgrown path that led out of the allotments. And down a terraced street, lined with parked cars. Her thoughts started to clump and refine into an idea…
Mary May Day. She could wish the humans a Mary May Day. Deliver some Mary May Day gifts.
Mary May Day. Mary May Day.
She rolled the words around her mouth, like a clutch of fresh, summer peas.
Mary May Day. Mary May Day.
It was a sweet, sweet tongue twister.
She looked to her right, at the line of parked cars. She looked to her left, at the line of front doors. This was a very long street. This would be a lot of people to find gifts for. She didn’t have God’s backing right now. No replenishing chocolate eggs store. And this was just one street, of all the streets, in this one city.
Lexie thought back to the allotment, and the straggly daisies that were poking and twirling themselves through the wire fence. She could make little sprigs. But for….ten families tops? Nope. It would take way too long to source and deliver little Mary May Day daisies to everyone.
“I need somewhere with less people,” she said, scratching behind her right ear. This was a brickish warren of a place. It was all too much. Too many people. Too many deliveries. It was a lot. Her head was spinning before she’d even begun. She needed to get out of here. Lexie could zap herself a certain distance, if she was with her crew. But without them…
She touched a paw to the nearest phone pole, and zapped herself to the corner of…she looked behind her. Yes, the self same street, with the parked cars and the painted doors. Sadness swirled inside her, then she thwapped herself around the side of the head, with a firm paw and said, “Now Lexie. Buck up. What would Mary do?”
This became Lexie’s mantra.
What would Mary do?
And the answer was always something brave and fun. She rode to Scotland, laid flat on top of a train. She built a raft, and rode down a river. She broke into a teahouse and stole some cake. Carrot cake, with a cream cheese frosting. She licked it from her whiskers for days. Now this was really living.
She got shot at in Newcastle. They shouldn’t have been able to see her. But they must have sensed her. After she threw potatoes at their heads? They deserved it. They were tormenting a cat.
She spray painted a self portrait on a wall in Soho, and started a copycat-bunny-painting craze.
And then on Tuesday 30th May, she realised that the next day would be… the last day… in May. It was like someone had put an ink drop into her good mood, and it was spreading fast. She perched her butt down on a concrete bollard, and rested her head on her knees, ears drooping down to her shins.
“What have you done Lexie, what have you done? God is going to be so mad. You don’t even have a plan. For Mary May Day. What are you going to do? You’re a mess.”
Lexie sighed and dragged herself back up onto her back feet and tottered to a nearby phone box. The red paint looked fresh, but at least half of the little window panes were broken. She huddled inside it and wondered if there was any way to call home? They had no phone at the other end, and she had no money, but maybe God could intercede? If he saw how bad she felt? How sorry?
A tear caught in the fur on Lexie’s nose. She sniffed. The phone box smelled so badly of human pee. They were such animals when drunk. Worse than animals. They were devils in skins. And she was standing in their phone box. What did that make her? “Too big for your boots, Lexie. A Jezebel. “
There was a sharp rap on the glass, and Lexie jumped.
A woman peered up at her through a broken pane of glass. She was draped in a blue robe, and her eyes were soft, but her tone was steadfast.
“My child, who taught you that word? Never mind. But please don’t use it.”
Lexie spooled back through her words. “Boots?”
“Jezebel,” the woman said, in a low chime of a voice. “Now come out, my child, I’d like a word, a few words. Other words.”
Lexie shuffled out slowly, ears pinned back.
The woman looped her arms through Lexie’s, and wove them with ease through the commuters, all of whom seemed oblivious…the woman must be invisible to them too. She steered them, smooth as water, across a road, and into a small park. When they reached the first bench the woman sat down and patted the space beside her.
Lexie joined her, and risked a good look at the woman’s face. The woman blinked back at her, and then adjusted her beautiful, blue robe.
“We match,” she said, indicating Lexie’s blue fur. The woman laughed softly, and Lexie managed a stiff nod.
This was terrifying. Not only could this woman clearly see her, but she was acting like she knew her. Like she’d been watching her? Stalking her? Ok, that sounded a little strong. But maybe watching her… from above?
“So you’re my party planner?” the woman said, with a smile that lit up her face, and the park, and Lexie’s heart. She reached over and laid a soft hand on the back of Lexie’s paw. “What should we go and deliver… to the people? Carrot cake? Good wishes? Shall we paint the world blue? Or shall we keep it a private party? You and me. What do you say?”
Lexie rubbed her nose. And then her eye. And then the other eye. And then her furry wrist.
“What do you like to do for your Birthday?” the woman said.
Lexie wrinkled her nose, and her whiskers twitched.
“Have you ever had a Birthday party… for yourself?”
Lexie shook her head. And risked another look at the woman. “You’re Mary?”
The woman nodded. “And you’re Lexie?”
Lexie nodded shyly, then shuffled back on the bench, until her fluffy tail was poking out through the slats. “Is it even your Birthday? I kind of…made it up.”
“And thank heavens you did,” Mary said, nudging Lexie softly in the ribs. “You gave me a most excellent excuse to break off and have a little fun. Now let’s plan tomorrow. Shall we say it’s our joint birthday?”
“We…could do that.” Lexie grinned so wide that she showed her big front teeth.
I had an image of a blue bunny in my head. Big, like the rabbit in Donnie Darko. And I guess there's a little Easter residue in my head!