"How Easter was Born"
Have you ever heard the tale of the Easter Bunny?
Sure, you may think you have, that you’ve been hearing the same tale since childhood. The Easter Bunny is the one that comes and leaves little goodies in your yard, the one that brings children joy.
But that tale is a lie.
The true story is one that isn’t told often, one that might spoil Easter Day for you.
It all began on a cool spring night, back hundreds of years ago. Little Mary Ann was sitting outside on a green, grassy hill, the one that sat right up against the Dark Woods, waiting for her mother to come back from fetching the water. The other townspeople didn’t come this close to the forest, claiming dark spirits and ghosts would steal them away and wouldn’t give them back.
Mary Ann didn’t care about that, though. She just wanted to look at the pretty flowers, the ones that bloomed in every color possible. She liked the way they smelled, how they felt when she crushed their petals in her little fist. She loved the cool breeze as it ruffled her skirts and whistled in her ears.
She gasped as a spotted cottontail bunny raced in front of her, and without a moment’s hesitation, she dove after it. Her breaths came out in little huffs and puffs, and the bunny sprinted into a bush before she could get any closer. But her little chase had placed her right in the entrance of the woods, closer than she had ever gone before.
A sparrow flew above, swooping right by her head, into a woven nest made out of little leaves and twigs. If she pushed high enough on the ends of her toes, she could just barely see the edge of the nest.
“What are you doing there?” A voice spoke from behind her, deep and melodic. Glancing back, her jaw dropped.
A bunny, just like the one she had seen before, was staring right at her. Except, unlike the one she had seen before, this bunny was huge, easily standing two times her height, and he was standing on two legs. His eyes were pale blue, and they didn’t blink once as their eyes met. He was also older, the fur on him more gray than brown.
Mary Ann didn’t know what else to do, so she giggled. “Bunny! Can I touch your fur?”
It wasn’t rude to ask, Mary Ann reasoned. After all, her mother had always told her that she should ask before touching someone, after that incident with the baker’s son, and she had asked. Plus, it looked so soft and warm, like one of the blankets that her father made after he went hunting.
“Touch… my fur?” The bunny spoke again, peering down at her. He blinked once, then slowly crouched down in front of her, leaning down on his bent legs. She could see his face better now, the little whiskers that decorated the sides of his mouth and his light pink nose that sniffed ever so delicately.
He reached his paw out, and Mary Ann grasped it without another thought. It was just as soft as she had imagined, just as warm.
She gave him another look, and, with the confidence only a child could have, said, “Lift me!”
He didn’t seem to understand, blinking at her once more, so she pointed up to the sparrow’s nest.
The bunny didn’t say another word to her, just grabbed her around her middle and lifted her up with surprising grace. She could hear the joints pop as he did so, the little crackle pops that she could hear when her father stood up from his rocking chair.
Gasping in delight, she reached out and grasped a little egg, no larger than her pinkie finger. It had little spots washing over the top and fading into the bottom, unusual markings.
After that, the bunny and Mary Ann developed a game. He would hide the egg, and then she would find it. At some point, she had rubbed the vibrant flowers she loved so much all over the surface, and it had become a beautiful painting of color.
Every time she found the egg, she could feel herself getting more tired, until her eyes were drooping and her legs gave out. She collapsed into the side of a tree, the rough bark biting into her face. This wasn’t the usual kind of tired, where she would throw a fit and then her parents would make her take a nap. No, she was a different kind of tired, like Old Granny Edna was down the road, where she would say things like, ‘when you get to be my age’.
Blinking her bleary eyes and holding up a stranding of her hair, she noticed that what was once bright red was now a faded grey.
The bunny crouched down next to her one last time, tucking the egg under her arm. When he stood up again, he didn’t make the popping sound again. The spots were brighter, more warm, was the last thing she noted before it all faded to black.
The village had a new story. The story of Mary Ann, who wandered too close to the forest and lost her youth. They found her frail and wrinkled body on the green, grassy hill where she loved to play.
Centuries later, that same bunny would be seen hiding eggs for new children.