This Is a Story About a Fox
Bunny is a fox. She’s just a different kind of fox. A special, one-of-a-kind, rare fox. Bunny stretches her fluffy fox tail and goes to the mirror to pin her ears.
“Good morning,” Mother Rabbit says — a wicker basket with backpack straps tucked under her arm — coming into Bunny’s room. She kisses Bunny’s cheek and hops around collecting tufts of fur Bunny has shed in the night. “You’re growing so fast.”
“Yep,” Bunny giggles, “into a big, strong fox!”
Mother Rabbit places a paw upon her chest. “A what?”
“A fox!” Bunny taps her foot. “Just look at my ears.”
Mother Rabbit clicks her tongue, places her basket full of fur next to Bunny’s bed. She hops to her daughter’s side and gently unpins her ears.
“My bitty baby Bunny.” Mother Rabbit flicks Bunny’s tail. “You are a rabbit. Not a fox. A rabbit like your father and I.”
“I’m a fox!” Bunny resists the urge to cross her arms, only bitty baby bunnies do that. “I’ll prove it.”
And she takes the pins from her mother’s paws and goes down the hall to see her father.
Father Rabbit sits at the table drinking coffee, his carrot cigar held in the curl of his left ear for later. Bunny has pinned her ears into two perfect triangles and growls at her father — not in a mean way of course — but a good morning father, kind of way.
“And hello to you, my little Bunny.” Father Rabbit laughs then growls. “I like what you’ve done to your ears.”
Bunny feels her chest swell. Of course father would understand. “I’m a fox!” Bunny shows her sharp teeth — also not in a mean way — while Mother Rabbit comes down the hall with her wicker basket.
“Of course you are.” Father Rabbit nods.
Mother Rabbit clears her throat and — Bunny notices — her parents speak the language only adults understand. Filled with looks and head tilts and throat gurgles.
“Of course…not,” Father Rabbit stammers. “Because you are a rabbit.”
“A rabbit,” Mother Rabbit slips her basket filled with tufts of fur onto Bunny’s back, “who will take this to Mother Sparrow.”
“To keep her new chicks warm when they hatch.” Mother Rabbit wiggles her nose into Bunny’s neck.
“Since I am a fox,” Bunny says between laughs, “I may eat Mother Sparrow.”
“Don’t tell her that,” Father Rabbit says, biting into his carrot cigar.
Bunny puts her best fox paw forward and walks out the door.
“Good morning, little Bunny,” Mr. Ram bleats while Bunny passes his fence.
“I am not a Bunny.” Bunny places her paws on the long wooden beam. “Look how sharp my claws are!”
“Claws?” Mr. Ram opens his one good eye real wide and leans closer for a better look. “Rabbits don’t have claws.”
“Exactly.” Bunny smiles and continues on her way.
“Bunny!” Pony gallops up to Bunny and they nuzzle their noses together. “What happened to your ears?”
Bunny will have to explain the change in her appearance carefully to Pony since her friend gets excited over the smallest things.
“I – am – a – fox.”
“I thought you were a rabbit,” Pony says, trotting two circles around Bunny.
“I used to be,” Bunny extends her long tail, still fluffy but not a puff of cotton like in the storybooks Mother Rabbit used to read to her at bedtime. “But now, I’m a fox.”
Pony sits in the middle of the road, repeating the conversation to herself. Bunny rolls her eyes, leaving her friend to her puzzling.
“Well,” a fox lounges at the base of Mother Sparrow’s tree, “what do we have here?”
“Hello,” Bunny waves.
The fox rises, tail whipping in the air. The same way Father Rabbit’s ears do when he hears trouble coming.
But Bunny isn’t scared. “I’m a fox.”
“You?” The fox covers his mouth with his paw. His body shakes and — from the back corner of his mouth — Bunny can see how sharp his teeth are.
“I am!” Bunny flashes her teeth too. “See?”
“Oh yes,” the fox steps closer, “very sharp.”
“And my claws!” Bunny flexes her paws, her little nails poke out.
“Very useful for catching prey.”
Bunny gulps and, for the first time, hops back. She worked so hard to learn how to walk and this one hop will set back months of progress.
“I can scream, too,” she whimpers and feels her embarrassment rise into her pinned ears.
The fox does not hide his laughter this time, causing the leaves in Mother Sparrow’s tree to tremble.
But not Bunny.
Because foxes don’t eat foxes.
“Let’s hear it then.” The fox growls, drool dripping from his chin.
Foxes don’t eat foxes.
Bunny tilts her head back. She screams, her pitch a little too high for her liking, but she’ll fix that with a little more practice.
“See?” She smiles.
But the fox doesn’t answer. His claws dig into the dirt, tail steady, and ears bent back. Bunny knows this stance. She’s practiced this stance in the mirror. Teeth rubbing together, eyes locked on their prey — on her. But, no, that can’t be right because she’s a fox.
The fox leaps and Bunny’s ears come loose, wrapping around her eyes.
The ground shakes and a loud yelp fills the air. Bunny unwraps her eyes and sees Mr. Ram headbutt the fox into the air. Pony runs to her side, Bunny’s parents struggling to stay on her back.
Mother Rabbit scoops Bunny up in her paws, kisses her all over, which Bunny doesn’t mind. Father Rabbit checks the area before nuzzling Bunny, his ears warm like Bunny’s favorite blanket.
“I saw the whole thing!” Mother Sparrow flies down from her nest landing in Bunny’s basket. “She was so brave!”
“Like a fox!” Pony kicks and neighs.
“Like a fox.” Mr. Ram lifts Bunny on his head.
She holds onto his horns, watches her mother nuzzle her father.
Yes, Bunny thinks, like a fox. A special, rare, one-of-a-kind fox.
K.B. Carle lives and writes outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is the Associate Editor at Fractured Lit. and Editor at FlashBack Fiction. Her stories have appeared in CRAFT Literary, CHEAP POP, Jellyfish Review, Milk Candy Review, and have been nominated for Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions, and the Pushcart Prize. She can be found online at http://kbcarle.com or on Twitter @kbcarle.
More by K.B. Carle Vagabond Mannequin
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