Horrorthon Banner © TJ Edson
St. John the Baptist
Ella picked up a dandelion and blew the last piece of fluff that remained as she pulled it from the ground. Looking up at the sky she tried to count the tiny white pieces that spread in the air and looked like cloud hair – that’s what she called them.
“Did you make a wish?” her father asked as he was putting his tools in the shed nearby.
“No!” firmly answered the girl, as if indignant at her father’s suggestion. “This wasn’t a good dandelion for wishes. Didn’t you see how the fluff fell when I picked it off the ground?”
Her father knew that his daughter had standards for how these wishes worked. No matter the force one picked up the dandelion, it had to keep all its white head, and then at the same time, when one blew it, it had to all fly off at the same time at the slightest breath. The trick here was that the flower could tell the difference between the breath with a wish and the wind that didn’t know such things.
She threw the empty stem on the grassy ground and ran to her father, for she had noticed something at the edge of the backyard. Two small ears, standing up, and just a bit below, two brown eyes looked intently at the little girl.
“Daddy, daddy! Is that the bunny we saw the other day or is it the fox that passed by this morning?” she asked, almost panting and grabbing his leg.
Her father put down the hammer, the last of his tools that was waiting to be put in place, and picked up his daughter in his arms. Giving her a kiss on the cheek, he said, “Oh, I see. I think it’s the bunny. Look at the ears; they’re small, but tall, the little nose, like yours,” and he tickled his daughter’s nose, “and I think, if we go close enough, it will hop away and you’ll be able to see its little bunny tail!”
Ella pinched her father’s nose, giggled, and said “Did you ever have a bunny nose, daddy?”
“Oh, yes, but not as pretty as yours!” he said and kissed her gently on the forehead. “Do you want to go see the bunny?” he asked her and dropped her on the ground.
“Yes, yes! But let’s not make noise. I don’t want it to go away!” she exclaimed whispering.
“I think your mother has planted enough carrots there for the bunny not to notice us.” Her father assured her.
They started to walk slowly toward the edge of the yard and the bunny didn’t move.
“Daddy!” Ella pulled her father’s hand so that he’d lower his ear to her lips, “I think he’s not moving because he wants to say thank you for the carrots.”
“I think so, too.” Said her father, and as he lowered his head, he noticed the immovable eyes of the bunny.
“You know Ella,” he said to his daughter. “Go call your brother. We can’t just say hi to the bunny without him.”
She looked at her father with both joy and disappointment. She was impatient, but at the same time, she knew how much her little brother would love to see this little bunny who was cheerfully waiting for them.
Reluctantly she agreed to her father’s request and ran to the house so swiftly and lightly, that the grass didn’t even bow under her little feet.
Her father fastened his step and got closer to the little animal. As he reached the spot where it was rooted, he noticed that it was missing its body. He turned his head to see if his daughter was coming back and realized he had a few more seconds before his children would join him. He pulled a plastic bag he kept in the back pocket of his pants to use when shopping and didn’t have his usual shopping bags, and picked up the bunny’s head. Wrapped it well and tied a knot as if afraid that it would escape. Checked for his children one more time, and saw them running from the door to the yard.
“Daddy, daddy! Is it still there?” his daughter yelled noticing that her father was where the bunny was supposed to be.
“Oh, Ella,” said he, putting his hand with the plastic bag behind his back. “The bunny saw you leave and went down the bunny hole right there, by the fence. I’m sorry.”
The little girl turned to her brother and said in a disapproving voice, “Liam – you see, if you had not done the extra round of racing with your silly car, we would have seen the bunny.”
“Oh, don’t worry.” Interrupted her father. “Now, look, let’s think of a name for the bunny and we can call him. What do you say?”
“I want to call him John.” Said Liam firmly, without even considering to consult with his sister, and she in return seemed to not notice that he had made a decision without including her.
“Daddy, I like the name John, too. Like John the Baptist. Mami talks about John the Baptist all the time.”
“Yes,” said he with a hint of a smile on his lips. “We’ll call him John the Baptist.”
Aida Bode is an Albanian poet and writer. She holds an MA in English and Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University.