Chapter 2 “Snakes” 8

“Come on, come on, eat up!” Cherry tries to make her younger sibling eat faster. “We’ve got a lot to do after this.”

“Oh, don’t rush them, Cherry,” Rosemary admonishes her, while offering her youngest sister a little pastry filled with apple sauce. “They’re babies, they need their time.”

Rosemary, Cherry, Sage and the three younger Bunnies all sit on cardboard boxes, each balancing a small plate of food on his or her lap. The little ones now seem to be much more active, their ears twitching at every sound and their eyes open wide in attentive vigilance. Still, they cannot speak or process too much information at a time, and their older siblings find themselves forced to help and wait patiently, some more than others, as they slowly consume their very first breakfast.

“But Merri, we need to start cleaning!” Cherry cries. “There’s so much to do here that I don’t even know what to tackle first!”

Rosemary sighs as she offers her sister a glass of water and gets up. “Sage, will y’take care of the little ones, please? We’re pretty eager to start, here… ” she asks in a sweet voice that prompts Sage to nod in agreement. “Cherry, do y’really think it’s a good idea to start right away? I mean, none of this is ours.”

“Oh, please!” Cherry waves her off. “They wouldn’t bring us here if they didn’t want us to stay!”

“Well, we don’t know that and maybe we’d better not assume anything.”

“Sure, sure, it’s not like we’re planning on changin’ anything. Just throwin’ some soap and water here and there,” Cherry looks around and breathes deep. “And everywhere else from the looks of things…”

Rosemary brightens up a bit at a passing thought. “Hey, maybe they’ll let us keep the place once they see just how great a job we’ve done with it!”

“Done with what, dear?” Alma asks, entering the bar from the storage room.

She walks up to Sage and the three little ones, greeting each of them with a gentle pat on the head and a soft smile. The Bunnies respond with tenderness, returning her greeting with smiles of devotion. Rosemary and Cherry immediately run to her, throwing their arms around her waist and hugging tight.

“We want to clean this place up and turn it into a bar,” Rosemary blurts out, looking up at the goddess with shiny eyes.

“Yeah, and we’ve checked upstairs,” Cherry chips in. “There’s all these different rooms. We could each have our own room.”

“Oh, not me, Cherry. I don’t need my own room,” Rosemary whispers to her sister, giggling.

“Children, please wait,” Alma asks them, rubbing her eyes as her still-aching head struggles to process all the words coming out of the Bunnies’ mouths. “Where is all this coming from?”

“Well, we can’t stay with you forever,” Cherry insists. “We need our own space. And I’m guessin’ you could use some privacy too, with your boyfriend an’ stuff, eventually. There’s enough rooms for us upstairs; all they need is some cleanin’ and decoratin’.”

“And then there’s this place,” Rosemary says. “Oh, all our lives we dreamt of running a bar and look,” she opens her arms to encompass the room. “Here’s a bar! Can we keep it?”

Alma breathes deep and places a hand on each of her Bunnies’ heads. “First, you will stay in my room, with me,” she says, looking down at Cherry, whose ears droop in disappointment. “And as for this place,” she turns to Rosemary. “I am not quite sure what Inspector Tuma-Sukai is planning on doing with it. It could just as well become a cell block for prisoners or a dorm for officers. You can’t just go around claiming it as your own.”

“But…this place is meant to be ours,” Rosemary insists. “I know it is. We’ve seen it in our dreams. And ‘twas great and always full of customers. Please, help us convince Mr Tuma-thingy that we can do a good job with it.”

“I am afraid he may not listen to me, Rosemary. He doesn’t look like he will listen to anyone, really.”

“Oh, please!” Rosemary’s eyes sparkle bright enough to make a small bird go blind.

“Rosemary…” Alma whispers, slowly shaking her head.

“Pretty please?” Cherry begs.

“Dear…”

“Pretty please with sugar on top?” both Bunnies cry in unison.

“Oh, all right! I will see what I can do,” Alma gives in, prompting a bone-crushing hug from both her oldest creations.

“You look very pale,” Sage says, getting up and offering Alma his box to sit. “Maybe you sit down and eat?” His voice is soft, full of compassion, and more confident than the day before.

The goddess gently releases herself from the double-bunny hug and walks over to him. “Yes, maybe I should.”

“And maybe then you rest?” Sage asks as she sits down.

“Unfortunately, dear, I need to report for duty. But I will have breakfast with you before I leave,” Alma replies, taking a good look around for the first time and noticing that something or, to be exact, someone is missing. “Where is Mayumi, by the way?”

“Oh, I think she’s gone into the building on the other side of the breezeway, or somethin’,” Cherry says in a distracted tone.

“Alone? Why would she leave?” Alma asks in deep concern.

“She went to find that nice woman, Cala, and thank her for breakfast, I think,” Rosemary explains as she serves breakfast to the goddess. “She probably got caught up, chattin’ an’all.”

The thought of one of the Bunnies walking into the station and walking around the other officers, triggering unpredictable reactions and possibly rude comments, makes Alma shoot up from her seat and run to the door. “I’d better go look for her. These mortals still don’t know how to handle Bunnies,” she says as she rushes out the door.

“Oh, we’re easy enough to handle…” Cherry mutters, turning her attention to a bucket of soapy water.

Rosemary runs to the open door, yelling to the figure of Alma quickly moving away in the direction of the Guardia station. “Wait, you haven’t had breakfast yet!” Talking to herself, she adds, “Poor thing will get herself sick if she keeps running around like that…”

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